The rumours about Alice started much before super-popular Brandon died in a car wreck; allegedly while sexting Alice:
Alice Franklin is a slut. Alice slept with two guys at the same party. Brandon's death is Alice's fault.
There is a "slut stall" full of graffiti'd hate over Alice.
Is it true? Nobody seems to care. And after delving into the perspectives of Alice's supposed BFF Kelsie, the ever popular Elaine, Brandon's best friend and football star Josh, genius boy Kurt and last but not the least, the infamous Alice herself-- you wonder if it even matters in the first place.
The judgments, pent-up angst and guilt felt by nearly all of the main players runs deeper. Is Alice nothing but a scapegoat for it all?
I really can't handle talking about this for too long because it hurts too much, but I do want to say that there is one thing I've learned about people: they don't get that mean and nasty overnight. It's not human nature. If you give people enough time, eventually they'll do the most heartbreaking stuff in the world.
The Truth About Alice is a sensitively written, clean and short read that gives you enough insight into how the scandal-mill works. It's gratifying to see how even in the darkest of times, Alice does have someone to lean on. It gave me the chills to think about how it might've turned out if class-genius Kurt hadn't stepped in and decided to be her friend when she needed one the most. It's this big what-if that bothered me more than the actual turn of events.
Like most Young Adult novels, there's a romantic twist that it would've done better without. All it does is overshadow the point of the novel. The book, perhaps a bit too deftly, sweeps the remnants of the scandal under the rug. It gives us an ending that is as positive, realistic and sensible as resolution of real-life, petty, small town scandals can get.(less)
I'm going to copy-paste what's in the blurb, in case you're not the kind of person who reads the blurb first. Because, o...moreOriginally posted on On Books!
I'm going to copy-paste what's in the blurb, in case you're not the kind of person who reads the blurb first. Because, of the plot, this is all you need to know:
"A beautiful and distinguished family. A private island. A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy. A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive. A revolution. An accident. A secret. Lies upon lies. True love. The truth."
No, its not just the blurb that's deliberately elusive. We Are Liars is as fragmented, as vividly illusionary, suspenseful and pseudo poetic as what you just read. The characters pop out of the page, demanding every bit of your attention span. They say pretentious things, everything they want or need is just there- on a literal platter, share a superficial, seasonal friendship amidst raging hormones and the salt of the sea water. And you'll listen to them.
Because in their perfection and pretention and destruction, they remain glamorous. It's the sheen this kind of inherited privilege has given them.
The Liars were perfect. Until something happened and now, Cady, "the beautiful and damaged girl" has constant and prolonged migraines. A huge chunk of her memory, of "the accident" and what happened before, is missing. Gat, the Indian American boy she loved, who made her "weak", becomes inconsistent. Her friends, the Liars, seem to be crumbling with her. Her parents and aunties are drinking and shopping more than usual and their fake smiles are waning.
What happened to these beautiful, beautiful people?
We Were Liars recounts the scenic, the surreal and the lies the Liars and their parents lived through in startling purple prose. Eventually, and without warning, it plunges into the truth which NOTHING can prepare you for and can never quite set you free. I was crying into the early morning hours. I remain stunned. I would never read this book again, because of how it messed with my head; branded it with images that will never leave me. But you should read it that once. BECAUSE it will mess with your head and grip you until you get to the bottom of it. Because it made me mull over the nature of "ownership" and things that are fickle and pretentious.
It goes without saying that if you dislike fragmented, purple prose and tales about "them poor-little-rich-kids", you will probably not like this book.(less)
I give this book five, very subjective stars. I'm not quite sure if I would've given it five stars if I'd read it way ba...moreOriginally posted at On Books!
I give this book five, very subjective stars. I'm not quite sure if I would've given it five stars if I'd read it way back in January, when I received it for review... or even a bit later, when in the midst of finals. But then again, is there any such thing as an objective rating? That being said, I read One Hundred Names when I needed to read it the most.
One Hundred Names opens in a hospital, where Kitty Logan asks her dying mentor, Constance Dubois, about the one story she's always wished to write. It's a difficult time for Kitty as well. She made an error in one of her stories, the scandalous kind, that caused her a suspension from her job as a TV-journalist and set her network back big time. It's a mistake that may forever ruin her career. She's hanging on to her other job at Etcetera magazine, however unrelated to the TV scandal, by a thread.
Constance asks her to retrieve a list of one hundred names-- a list that had something to do with the story she had in mind. Before Kitty can get back with the list, Constance passes away. As a part of her tribute issue, Kitty needs to find out what connects these people; the very nature of the story Constance wanted to write. There isn't much time to piece it all together... it's ONE HUNDRED different people, and lives, she'll have to delve into... and her job might just depend on it.
I can definitely picture this book being made into a movie. It would be one of those romcoms with a slightly quirkier twist, and dialogues that are meaningful and sometimes even funny. The plot might seem a bit contrived: the way most plots involving a large cast are. It features six very different, very dreamy, "ordinary" but interesting people... people who, like in most books that have several subplots, gradually find their stories intermingling when they are thrown in a common setting.
Reading One Hundred Names, however, felt far from contrived. I've always admired the earnestness in Cecelia Ahern's writing. I'm glad she doesn't stick to the same formula. Instead, she always tells us different kinds of stories that take on different perspectives; retaining the freshness in her narration. In this book, it's the earnestness of the main players that gets to you. It's easy to picture them living their lives, one day at a time.
Kitty attempts to uncover what Constance could've possibly wanted to write about them- practically drilling various angles into their lives... and as the arc finally dawns on her- it humbles her, and the reader. It's not something you couldn't have guessed several chapters before. In fact, I think it was pretty clear from the beginning. Still, it's beautiful because it's something all of us take for granted but is very very true.
One Hundred Names, through wonderful characterization, several humorous and WTF moments, is one heck of a journey! Before you know it, you are a part of their lives: laughing, groaning, whooping and cheering them on! Their energy is your energy. It reminds you of the value of a genuine and positive story; how wasteful it is that we are constantly on the lookout for superficiality, drama, a "dark" past and conflict instead. It encourages you to look beyond the surface, at what is already around and within you. (less)
This book was as sad as hell yet SO poignant. Judy Blume ruled my childhood and this book, one of her few books for adults, was a wonderfully raw guil...moreThis book was as sad as hell yet SO poignant. Judy Blume ruled my childhood and this book, one of her few books for adults, was a wonderfully raw guilty-pleasure read! (less)
Right Click takes us back to the CC'd and BCC'd adventures of Renee, Ethan, Shelley, Mark and the rest! With moving away, relationship-hiccups, break-ups, baby-troubles, Vegas trips, celebrity-run-ins, funerals and a wedding-in-planning, we're in for quite a ride; peppered with Billy-Joel-offs, pun-offs and plenty of surprises along the way.
In the final part of one of my favourite email-trilogies ever, Becker maintains the zippy-and-cheery pace set in Click and Double Click. Email plays an even bigger role in the characters staying connected to each other; especially in context of specific situations where no other medium works as well.
The likability of the main players, however stuck-up and relatively annoying some of them may appear to be, instantly won me over. They have grown over the span of three books-- but at the same time, their voices are easily recognisable. Some of them make less-than-ideal comebacks and others, you continue to love to hate. While the story is centered around Renee, who has her share of ups and downs, Shelley continued to make me involuntarily "LOL" and Ashley's struggles were realistic and made my respect for her grow. Mark, who I've always found adorable, also gets his happily ever after!
I'm not going to deny that, like all chic lit novels, Right Click, too, did have that point when it got a bit too fluffy and even the ha-larity felt like an overkill. Thankfully, that's exactly when Becker chose to infuse grit and a surprising dose of tough love! Reading the last few email (!) exchanges between what has, over time, evolved into Renee's pretty tight-knit group, even left me a little teary-eyed!
Click started out as a breezy and hilarious novel chronicling the online-dating (mis)adventures of Renee and Mark. Over time, over new and renewed friendships, heartbreak, funerals, PR-events, therapeutic pun-tertainment and hilariously tacky cat videos, it's clear that through chemistry, witty and light-hearted banter, forwards and mis-forwards, this series has morphed into so much more. And Right Click, over several plot arcs and important character milestones, provided a heartwarming and balanced finale to what has been a fabulous e-journey!(less)
I have seen this book around but never thought to pick it up. I figured it would be too intense a difficult read so involving, I'd get lost in it and g...more4.5
I have seen this book around but never thought to pick it up. I figured it would be too intense a difficult read so involving, I'd get lost in it and given the current Semester's workload, I've been seeking refuge in "easy" and predictable books with the kind of wit, banter and plot arcs that I've grown so comfortable with, the repetitiveness ceases to bother me.
But when two really good bookie friends of mine gifted Between Shades to me for my birthday, it felt like the choice had been made for me! And I'm glad.
Between Shades of Gray was too intense. There were parts where I had to blink away tears or worse, felt too numb to react. It was not an easy read but it was an important one; capturing a part of history, of Lithuanians forcibly deported to Siberian work camps by the NKVD during World War II, that I wasn't aware of. It was a story that needed to be told and couldn't have been put across in a better way.
The book also got so involving, it broke through my reluctance- completely quite possibly stemming out of nothing short of indolence- to read something that grabbed every bit of my attention and made me feel for real. It dares to infuse beauty and meaning into the period when the darkest and most cruel side of human nature was exposed. It crushes you with the enormity of the hardships these people had to shoulder and how even then, many refuse to crumble.
The protagonist, Lina, is just fifteen years old at the time when she, along with her mother and brother are deported in a train labeled "Thieves and Prostitutes". Her perspective holds both innocence and incredible strength. It's heartbreaking how she is forced to grow up in a work camp; in such brutal, unforgivable conditions. And yet, she does. Despite being reduced to a state of near-starvation and constant worry for the people around her, she still has spirit.
Lina's a gifted artist, and despite Soviet rules barring them to do so, she never stops drawing about the injustices they are forced to undergo. She never stops trying to get messages to her father, who is separated from them. She never stops hoping and fighting and loving. Her journey, with flashbacks to life before the deportation that are seamlessly integrated, is heartbreaking. The kind of bonds formed and the togetherness that exists among the deportees; the fabric of strength maintained by the adults for their children and their individuality despite the NKVD grouping them as "cattle" was astounding.
Wonderfully written in a sharp, almost cinematic manner, with well-fleshed out, memorable characters, this book will, indeed, as the blurb says, "steal your breath and capture your heart." (less)
The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy has got to be the most enjoyable Young Adult book I've read in a while! I read...moreOriginally posted here: On Books!
The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy has got to be the most enjoyable Young Adult book I've read in a while! I read this book way back in January, and if I hadn't been on an unofficial-hiatus I would've reviewed it right away. A lot of "reality show" based books end up wearing thin, but not this one.
The Vigilante Poets...(don't you love the title?) is about Ethan Andrezejczak who is witty, sarcastic, perfectly likable and hung up on ballerina Maura, the poster girl for Unattainable. Throw in a reality show their artsy unconventional school is the center of, an inspiring English teacher who introduces them to Ezra Pound's Cantos, the realisation that the show is ruining everything their school stands for and a creative rebellion is underway. There's plenty of genuine wit, solid characters, betrayals, a gerbil you will dote on and anti-climatic romantic twists to make this story epic and memorable.
The best part? The ride is smooth. The writing is both charming and intelligent; and at no point does the plot pause. At no point are there Reflections or a pointless elaboration of angst. To make a reality-show-plot smooth, the show must keep on keeping on or the drama just coagulates in your head. The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy seemed to get that. What we get of the show and the anti-show-movement are mere commercial-break-infused snippets. What we get of the characters, whether it's Ethan and his friends, his adorable twin sisters or even the elusive Maura, is brilliant. They grow on you, they fill you in on insights about themselves that surprise you just as much; but they never pause on it.
In short, this book is a smart, snappy, insightful and colourful laugh-riot that reminds you of, but surpasses by a landslide, TV shows like Glee. A work of art by itself that gets the fun-insightful ratio just right, I highly recommend giving this book a shot. It's easily the best thing I've read all year!(less)
Initially gave it three stars. Reflecting on it a couple of months later, I feel it deserves only two. Or 2.5 at most, for the premise. That's the sad...moreInitially gave it three stars. Reflecting on it a couple of months later, I feel it deserves only two. Or 2.5 at most, for the premise. That's the sad part about Pawn: it had so much potential. The premise is as original as dystopian gets these days and the first few chapters had me hooked.
What went wrong?
Just one thing, which ruined everything the book had worked so hard to build: drama. There was so much of it. Initially, this piqued my interest even more, especially with an identity of a potential imposter left to be revealed... but then, when it reached a point when everyone turned against everyone and the word "family" almost felt like a joke in the Hart household, it got exhausting. Suddenly, Kitty Doe impersonating pretty, headstrong and privileged Lila Hart did not hold my interest anymore, because the ruthlessness and swiftness with which the Hart family turned against each other got -I can't believe I'm saying this- repetitive and dull. The characters were reduced to cardboard-cut-out versions of themselves.
Keywords from the blurb that made me decide to read Stir Me Up despite my ambivalence towards New Adult fiction: apprentice chef ex-Marine all attitude, challenges, intense-green eyes stirred up
Quite simply, the concoction to die for! Sabrina Elkins' writing only strengthens the surface-level awesomeness of the premise. She thickens it with characters you can think around rather than cardboard cut-outs with default-pasts and actual, in-depth conversations between the characters at crossroads anyone can relate to.
Cami's senior year was supposed to be clear-cut: with classes ending by afternoon, her part-time job as an apprentice chef and time with her boyfriend. Her future is just within reach; she's going to work full-time at her father's restaurant. Then the worst of circumstances brings Julian, her stepmother's nephew and ex-Marine to Cami's home and from that point on, the year is nothing like what she thought it would be. Everything Cami thought she had figured out is put to test and there's verbal spars, reluctant truces, attraction, confusion, self-doubt and worries about her future.
There's also plenty of unbelievable hotness, mouthwatering food and an idealistic (highlight to read possibly spoiler-y adjective) resolution of things... as suggested by the blurb and cover! And honestly, anything less and I would've been disappointed.
Whether it's Cami's stubborn but doting father, her theater-loving best friend who's there at a moment's notice or even Luke, the boy she thought she would be with forever... Stir Me Up is filled with characters you will come to care about, if not instantly like. It may not be a game changer in its genre, but it never promises to be anything but an engagingly romantic read in the first place. It's well written, thought provoking, extremely fun to read and in Julian, you might just find a potential book boyfriend!(less)
What do you do when you're losing the person who matters the most and suddenly, everything else loses meaning? When all that's left is anger, grief and guilt? Elizabeth Scott explores this in Heartbeat where Emma's senior year is far from what she imagined it would be like. Her mother is brain-dead, still pregnant, kept alive by machines until her baby brother can be born. She's angry that her step-father chose this for her mother... chose to have her kept alive as a vegetable as she believes her mother never wanted the baby in the first place. Her grades have gone out of the window but still, she finds love and support in unexpected places.
Heartbeat was a very difficult book to read and I cannot imagine what it would've been like to write. It reverberates sadness and leaves you at a loss for words. Emma keeps going back and forth, from anger to grief to anger to guilt, and it's frustrating, sometimes monotonous, but also realistic... when she takes her time to waver towards acceptance. I think this was the strongest point of the point... how ongoing the cycle of grief and hopelessness was until the breakthrough.
While the relationship between Emma and Caleb was this ray of light in the otherwise dark place she was in... it didn't convince me. It felt like Caleb just happened to be there and that he had experienced loss at a similar scale helped. I was more gripped by Emma's relationship with her stepfather, the baby, the lingering presence of her mother and her perspective on school and life. How these things were challenged in the face of regrets and blame, and how she came to terms with them.
It took time to get into Heartbeat but at its core, it is a well-written, perspective-changing and poignant read about love, loss and how you never really move on from the latter.(less)
I started reading The Secret Proposal a little before my December break and it felt amazing to sink into this... fluffy, dreamy hav...moreOriginal post: HERE
I started reading The Secret Proposal a little before my December break and it felt amazing to sink into this... fluffy, dreamy haven.
As you may have guessed from the title and the cover, The Secret Proposal feels like something out of a fairytale. Sure, there's no prince and princess and magical kingdom but there's Veer who could double for Prince Charming in Jasmine's eyes, even if he gets on her last nerve... and Jasmine herself, who is waiting to be swept off her feet, even if it is through a fake engagement to the boy she's secretly been in love with since forever.
The Secret Proposal is at the same time a bit more grounded than most fairytales. For instance, the media threatens to ruin everything. We are given more than a taste of Kolkata: with a full, blown-up picture of the city during Durga Puja; the mouth-watering sweets, colours, diyas and dancing. The Happily Ever After isn't instantaneous. The pangs of misery, loneliness and confusion before the Ever After feel real. More than anything, the Prince Charming here messes up a lot and needs timely help from a good friend to make his Grand Sweeping Gesture that was staring at him in the face all along!
There are times when the ups and downs of Veer and Jasmine's relationship get a little too much and the description of Veer's "chocolate brown eyes" during their every encounter feels like too much of an overkill... but overall, The Secret Proposal is a light and breezy read. It's just the book you'd pick up if you were in the mood for something girly and romantic... if you don't mind a few cliches (and a lot of swooning) here and there. Especially when they are well-written cliches and there's enough banter to keep you entertained!(less)
I don't even know where to start with it. I don't know whether to gush about it incessantly... that would come naturally because I am definitely containing myself from gushing along various incoherent tangents right now... or I could collect my thoughts and write something that resembles coherence.
But. Really. Fangirl demands squealing. *points to the title* It embodies awesomeness in a way that's inarticulate, gushworthy and epic.
It's about Cather, this girl, who's a devout Harry Po Simon Snow fan. Like in a my-life-depends-on-it-and-it-sucks-that-I-can't-attend-Hogwarts-Watford-School-for-Magicks way. She writes Simon Snow fanfiction... really good slash fan fiction that's read by millions of fans over the world. And yeah, she's going to a college a few hours away with her twin Wren, who does not want to be roommates because they "need to meet other people".
Real life was something happening in her peripheral vision.
“I don’t trust anybody. Not anybody. And the more that I care about someone, the more sure I am they’re going to get tired of me and take off.”
What follows is girl-meets-roommate's-"boyfriend", girl-writes-a-story-that's-not-fan-fiction and girl-sorts-out-family-stuff plot in a way that's most layered, complex and non-cliched. It reads like your favourite fantasy novel minus the fantasy with the warmth and once-upon-a-time-storybook-like comfort it brings. It begs you to highlight almost every line and scream "ME TOO!" because if you picked up this book, you are a fangirl in some way, aren't you? Rowell does a brilliant job integrating Simon Snow snippets as well, which makes you truly feel the way you felt when you were hooked on to something... when it began, when it was happening and when it ended and then never truly ended!
Rowell also gives us a way more holistic picture of college than most books of this genre do. She does not forget the roommate, the initial cluelessness/social awkwardness and the people you leave behind. What more, she gives us LEVI, who shaped up to be perfect... not Gary Sue perfect, but quirky perfect! There were passages about him that made me smile so much and others that had me swoony and teary eyed. He's so good natured and charming, there's this part where Cath describes his face as the "smilingest" and it does not sound wrong at all!
While it's not without occasional lapses in momentum, Fangirl is what Rainbow Rowell's Attachments was to romcom novels and the Y2K era and what Eleanor & Park was to coming-of-age: a pretty darn amazing addition to its genre! It's wholesome in its depiction of college life (whether it's Cath's or Wren's side of the coin) with sensitively etched out characters and if you've ever geeked out about something or read/written fan fiction, pays homage to that phase!
“Happily ever after, or even just together ever after, is not cheesy,” Wren said. “It’s the noblest, like, the most courageous thing two people can shoot for.”
"Okay." She turned around and unlocked the door. "You can come in. I'm not sure yet about all the other stuff."
"Okay," Levi said. She heard the very beginning of a smile in his voice -a fetal smile- and it very nearly killed her.
Imaginable is the sequel to Intangible, where we first met Luke and Sera: twins with supernatural abilities. In Imaginable, Sera's healing powers make her the target of various dark creatures. Much of the book takes place in the Realm, where Sera is alternatively held captive by vampires and the Shadows, while her friends seek to locate and rescue her.
Most sophomore efforts tend to be a bit of a muddle... probably because they usually function as bridge books between the first and later parts. In many ways, Imaginable was no exception. While there's a lot of action, even hints of something brewing and you do get into the skin of these characters, you also cannot quite grasp where this is all ultimately headed. Is there a big picture to all of the little plots and developments?
Also, many of the back story details were fuzzy in my head. I couldn't recall what had happened to Luke and Sera's parents because it had been a while since I'd read the first book. But you know what? Most of the time, all of these things didn't matter. Mainly because I love the world and the characters of J.Meyers' Intangible series. The main players are all so colourful and unique, so balanced somehow, that most of them are in no way defined by their Giftedness/origin. They are who they are despite their origins, and that's something I found refreshing.
Luke, Sera, Quinn, Rachel and the lot once again seem a lot younger and innocent, somehow, than the average Young Adult character. Their friendships are genuine -they actually make you feel something- and the romance, subtle but no-less-powerful, takes its time to develop (and when it does, you cannot.stop.squealing.)! The action was solidly described, making the climax extremely engrossing.
All in all, I enjoyed reexperiencing the richness of the world J. Meyers has crafted and the warm, steady and admirable cast of characters! Not sure what's in store for them in the future parts but I'll definitely be reading them!(less)
Addicted to You had me hooked from start to finish. I liked how it didn't overly sensationalise the main character's addiction and make it out to be a...moreAddicted to You had me hooked from start to finish. I liked how it didn't overly sensationalise the main character's addiction and make it out to be all sexy; superficially aiding the main characters' chemistry or whatever. Instead, it is sensitively dealt with.
The helplessness and disastrousness of Lily and Loren's situation was described in a realistic manner. You could completely sympathise with them, even if they were fundamentally messed up in the most self-destructive ways (and I usually have no patience with such characters). The secondary characters were also very well etched-out. I would want to know more about their lives; especially Rose's. Which is great, because I heard she gets her own book. (less)
After Pushing The Limits (Pushing The Limits #1), in which Echo and Noah's chemistry blew me away, I've always looked forward to more of Katie McGarry's Pushing the Limits series. Crash Into You is about Isaiah, a foster kid, who was never my favourite character but not my least favourite either; someone we always caught glimpses of in the previous books and seemed so let down in Dare You To. He's practically Noah's brother, was mooning after Beth and finally, in Crash Into You, we get a close-up of him.
I finally understood him and respected him so much for everything he had made of himself despite the odds that are stacked up against him.
Despite having the punk-boy-meets-rich-girl-and-there-are-obstacles storyline that has the potential to be so cliched, Crash Into You was funny, sweet and surprising. The credit, I think, goes to the characters who popped out of the page and refused to be pigeonholed into a "type".
Isaiah meets pretty, wide-eyed and car-crazy Rachel Young at a drag race and their story accelerates from there. It's partly told in Rachel's point of view which I really enjoyed as Rachel had this innocence about her that was so refreshing! Seeing Isaiah through Rachel's eyes was incredible- even for Isaiah. She saw the best in him, made him feel worthy and in the process, we get to see how strong and loyal she is, despite the people around her overprotecting her. She's definitely not the textbook-private-school-girl teen reads love to portray. The girly, giddy rush that accompanies first love was written so well that I was grinning like an idiot whenever we got to read about the events from Rachel's perspective!
Isaiah's social worker, Courtney, was pretty awesome too. I loved how while she was still learning the ropes, she cared enough to make sure Isaiah knew she was there for him in the long-term. Abby, Isaiah's friend, came off shady in the beginning but ended up being endearing and yes, a little strange but in a good way. Echo, Noah, Beth and Logan make cameo appearances while we also get acquainted with the Rachel's brothers: Ethan, West and the lot. There is also a "villain", street thug Eric, who is not-so-three-dimensional and a little over-the-top but it kind of went with the adrenaline-junkie-cars-backdrop, so I don't think it made the story flawed in any way.
Isaiah and Rachel make perfect sense in a way that made me cheer for them throughout! I loved how they never for a second doubted their feelings for each other and accepted that Rachel's parents weren't going to greet him with open arms immediately; two things that might've been a source of relationship theatrics in most books. By throwing light on the weight that comes with the prospect of aging out of the foster system and painting the beginnings of a relationship that is joyous, transforming and far from superficial, I enjoyed reading Crash Into You even more that Dare You To. I was reading this on my phone non-stop, through bus rides, in the supermarket, you name it, and it was definitely worth the ride!(less)