This has got to be the most bizarre book I've ever read. It starts, well, truly starts, the day Keyanna Sanders turns eighteen aOriginally posted here
This has got to be the most bizarre book I've ever read. It starts, well, truly starts, the day Keyanna Sanders turns eighteen and everything she wishes comes true. In the beginning, it's mildly amusing and seems coincidental, but soon, it's clear that something has changed. What follows is this completely crazy sequence of events that feels as rapid as the blink of an eye. Seriously, every time I'd get used to something, there would be a twist and bam- completely different turn of events!
I loved how unpredictable and fun the characters were: whether it was Lock-the token hot British guy who kept me guessing-, Dallas, Keyanna's mother, her father, her best friend Nora or Dominic, I either loved to hate them or flat out liked them. There's no one I could take completely seriously, as everything we know about them is consistently put to test, but they were so exciting and fun. I was constantly guessing their motives and true intentions!
This is the kind of book that can be taken only at face value, but is nevertheless so entertaining, I didn't need to dig deeper. ...more
This book was so good. I'm used to being disappointed with sequels but Don Tillman's adventures are definitely not average and most definitely didn'tThis book was so good. I'm used to being disappointed with sequels but Don Tillman's adventures are definitely not average and most definitely didn't end with the first book. It's packed with epiphanies and laughs, courtesy the most adorable and label-defying man you'll ever meet. Makes me want to read The Rosie Project all over again....more
This is a really difficult review to write because I love Colleen Hoover. I love how butterflying transformativOriginally posted on my blog, On Books!
This is a really difficult review to write because I love Colleen Hoover. I love how butterflying transformative her writing is; how it turns even the most tired cliches into something wholesome. And yet nothing could pretty up Ugly Love.
Ugly Love is your classic New Adult redemption story: girl, Tate Collins, who's new to San Francisco meets boy, airplane pilot Miles Archer when he's drunk, huddled outside her brother's apartment door. Right from their first meeting, it's clear that something about his past haunts him; making him renounce love. When the chapters alternate with Miles' point of view, to "six years earlier" when he meets a girl called Rachel in high school, there are no doubts about the "who", just the "how" and "what".
Tate and Miles, who's incidentally Tate's brother's best friend, soon embark on a relationship that's plain sex. But between Miles' smoldering gazes, Tate's fervent hope that it turns into something more and all the boundaries that they set only to break, they're not fooling anyone. The alternating perspectives, which shift from present to past, were a welcome relief as I didn't want to spend all of the time on either time period. There's just a lot of build up, characters that are "technically" well developed but don't mesh and poetic prose that falls flat.
This was also my first audio book ever, and "listening" to it might've only accentuated everything I disliked about the narrative structure. Miles' perspective, especially, was filled trite repetitions in his unconditional devotion towards Rachel. It felt empty, as there's nothing we actually know about Rachel other than Miles' idealized and rosy-eyed-to-the-point-of-corny account; half of which I felt like skipping. Tates' perspective felt more Miles' perspective of Tate because I cannot for the life of me get a picture of who she is, despite living inside her head for a good part of the book.
The heart of the story is every bit of the redemption story you're promised: there's confrontation, tragedy and confrontation of tragedy. And yet, as a whole, it felt dissatisfying.
This isn't going to stop me from reading Maybe Someday, the only Colleen Hoover book I haven't read, but Ugly Love flat out didn't work for me....more
Enter the Bluebird tells the story of Julie Rouge, the daughter of meta human Sonia Rouge who is also known as the Red Talon. ThOriginally posted here
Enter the Bluebird tells the story of Julie Rouge, the daughter of meta human Sonia Rouge who is also known as the Red Talon. The Red Talon loses her life fighting street crime in the city of New Edinburgh. Julie is left with a costume for her new avatar: The Bluebird, which kicks off her thirst for justice and revenge. In the process, she confronts the reality of the city she grew up in and the ghosts of her mother's past.
The only other Brandon Halpin book I've read before this is A Really Awesome Mess but the two books don't have much in common. Enter the Bluebird has no room for cutesy; it's darker and grittier than your average YA book. The world building is crazy amazing: with the Syndicate: the nucleus of corruption, Snake Oil: an addictive drug and agent of evil, the Legion of Freedom, the layout and atmosphere of New Edinburgh and the world outside it. All of my senses were enraptured by this world that could easily double as a comic-bookverse.
It's a coming of age/origin story that is far more real than any superhero story I've ever seen. Julie has the ability to fly, and in her determination to rid New Edinburgh of corruption there's a fair amount of window-breaking, fires and angsty moments by the cemetery. More than this, though, the book confronts other harsher realities: namely, the people Julie/The Bluebird rescues, who don't necessarily find her superhero stunts amazing; not from where they're standing.
"Are you kidding me?" Kendra said. "Now I get to spend the rest of the night picking glass slivers off the beds. And then I have to go out to fill a form in triplicate and hope the housing authority fixes the window before winter comes. What happens the next time it rains? What happens if the piece of glass gets in my little brother's eye? Did you think about that?" "No," The Bluebird said. "I only thought about the person who was screaming and trying to help her. I didn't know she was too stupid to know that she needed help." "You're the stupid one. You're dumber than your costume. You think you know things, but you don't know anything. You think the solution to every problem is to kick somebody-" (...) "Fine," Julie said. She tried to find The Bluebird inside her somewhere, but she could only find little hurt Julie...
I found Kendra and her little brother refreshing. They made the story all the more gripping, and showed that yes, fighting evil isn't as easy as a well placed punch. In fact, Halpin does not simplify any of the broader issues the world of Enter the Bluebird is filled with. He is unafraid to expose Julie to hurt, heart wrenching grief, people who have more than two dimensions and danger that strikes from more than one direction and never conveniently works in her favour.
As Julie struggles to pick up the pieces, make sense of her mother's death and gets infatuated with the Mayor's son, The Bluebird carries the weight of the city and falls more than once. Enter The Bluebird is, from start till end, a vividly written YA noir that I couldn't get enough of....more
A pretty decent one-time read. Anna and TJ are stranded on the island and their time there is far from romanticised. Yes, they get attracted to each oA pretty decent one-time read. Anna and TJ are stranded on the island and their time there is far from romanticised. Yes, they get attracted to each other and their age difference isn't ignored. It's a wholesome story; harrowingly emotional at parts, with no loose ends. I'm happy with the way it ended. I wouldn't want to read the sequel....more
I read Just Girls by Rachel Gold a month ago, and the earnestness with which it dealt with issues of identity, gender and sexualOriginally posted HERE
I read Just Girls by Rachel Gold a month ago, and the earnestness with which it dealt with issues of identity, gender and sexual orientation instantly sucked me in.
Just Girls tells us the story of Jess Tucker, who sticks up for a transwoman on campus; she doesn’t know who this woman is, just that it’s someone in the dorm. On encountering a bunch of girls who have already started making ignorant remarks about, speculating about the identity of and judging this girl, Tucker says it’s her (“You have anything to say to my face?”). Being an out-of-the-closet lesbian since high school, she figures she can handle it.
“I know I don’t understand viscerally what it means to have gender dysphoria or to have people always questioning who you are, but I do know what it’s like to have people be assholes to you just because of who you are. And I just got really pissed and really afraid for this girl and so I said it was me. That way they’ll direct their bullshit at me and I know I can take it.” (p. 39)
Meanwhile, Ella Ramsey, realizing what had happened and what Tucker did for her, much before they are even acquainted… is shocked and moved.
What I liked most about Just Girls is that this is by no means where the story begins and ends. Instead, we are introduced to a diverse and wonderfully fleshed out cast of characters. While it would be easy to tag them as “transwoman Ella”, “genderqueer Nico”, “the transphobic Women & Gender Studies Teaching Assistant”, “codependent Lindy”, and so on, there’s much more to them than that. No one is a token member of any community, and their story transcends labels and stereotypes.
Getting to know Ella, who was born a boy but was on hormone blockers to prevent male characteristics from kicking in during puberty, widened my understanding of what it feels like to be born a gender you do not identify yourself as. It was refreshing how her parents were supportive of the transitioning process and embraced her for who she was. As we get to know Ella as Ella – girly, funny, intelligent and loyal-, the premise of the novel felt stronger and its message truly hit home.
The issues tackled, whether thinly veiled sexism, transphobia outside and within the LGBTQIA community, where transgenders factor in same sex restrooms, and more, never feel like too much. We are trained to even pay attention to the voices and views of characters whom the others are eager to dismiss as intolerant and prejudicial; as they, too, come from somewhere and it is essentially to get to the root of that somewhere.
Rachel Gold has this amazing ability to integrate feminist theory and debates into the story in a way that feels natural; never feels obscure or out of one’s depth even to beginners. She also does a great job demonstrating that no subculture is free from prejudice, abuse and hatred. At the same time, love, friendship, trust and protection can be garnered from just about anywhere. The foundations of Ella and Tucker’s friendship, and their unconditional acceptance of each other left the deepest impact.
Just Girls was a funny, thoughtful and honest exploration into what it means to be a girl; exclusive of one’s assigned-at-birth gender and heteronormativity....more
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....more
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, oOriginally 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....more
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 baOriginally 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. ...more
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 guilThis 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! ...more
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!...more
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 g4.5
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." ...more