Book review, Readathon, Wrap-up

Pride Readathon wrap-up

Statistics

Total number of books: 5.5 PhotoGrid_1531034901929-min.jpg

Start date: 1st June, 2018

End date: 31st June, 2018

Highest Rating: 5/5 stars

Lowest Rating: DNF

Best Book: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller


If you have been following my blog last month, you would have noticed that I took part in two readathons- The Pride Readathon hosted by Sai Ram and Dhruv Singhal and the Love is Love Readathon hosted by Books N Beyond. I wanted to do something special for the Pride Month in support of the LGBT community and being a bibliophile, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to popularize equal rights for them.

I had a wonderful time curating books for the readathon. I initially had 12 books on the list but I could only manage to complete five and a half because of other review deadlines. However, all the 5 reads were brilliant five star reads. I did not finish a book because it just did not do anything for me and I did not want to waste time with it.

Here is a wrap of the reads and the proposed reads for the Pride Readathon-

  1. Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (5/5 stars) This book has been receiving a lot of eyeballs due to the recent movie adaptation and is considered to be one of the key books in recent LGBT literature so  I decided to start with this and boy, was I glad I did! The book deals with the coming of age of high school students, the discovery of their sexual identity, bullying, acceptance and the need to fit in. It was a very sweet story that was funny and had a lot of lovable characters. It had great family values as  well. I cannot wait to watch the movie.
  2. Less by Andrew Sean Greer– (5/5 stars) This was a story of a gay author, Arthur who discovers that he is nearing his fiftieth birthday with nothing to show for it. He sets out on a tour around the world in order to find new material for his book. It was a very ‘grown-up’ book with complex characters and discussion of serious issues regarding the way that the LGBT community has been perceived from the 70s to the present day. I was saddened to learn that on top of everything else that an author has to deal with, a gay author also has to deal with how his book will make the world percieve the gay community.
  3. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller– (5/5 stars) This was my favourite book of the readathon and one of my favourite books overall. I love historic fiction and a descriptive story and this book gave me both of those things. It is a story of Patroclus and Achilles where we seen them grow up from innocent children to capable young adults. The protagonist is the underdog Patroclus and not the GodChild Achilles. I loved how even though the boy is not considered worthy of being friends with the Prince, Achilles should him nothing but equality.
  4. Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli– (5/5 stars) This was the second book in the Creekwood series after Simon. It concentrates on Leah, a lonely bisexual drummer who hasn’t come out to anyone other than her mother. She is tormented by longing and is confused by the attention that she receives from her supposed straight friend. The book deals with how straight people take it for granted to be handsy with gay people and don’t consider how it might come off as. It also deals with the feeling of being alone in a crowd and the loneliness that comes even when surrounded by a group of loving friends. This book spoke to me on levels that Simon did not reach.
  5. The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang–  (5/5 stars)This was my first graphic novel. I have never read much of comic books even as a kid and was apprehensive about how much I would really like this book. But I discovered that I loved the colorful images and the beautiful illustrations. The book tells a story of a Prince who likes to cross-dress. While cross-dressing is not purely inclusive in the LGBTQ+ genre, I considered the book since cross-dressing is identified as a type of transgender behaviour but does not necessarily indicate transgender identity.
  6. The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth- I had very high expectations for this book. It is the story of Cameron, a young teen who is just realising her sexuality and is (mis)educated about it by her Aunt in the hopes of bringing her close to God. I however found the writing too monotonous. I did read 50% of the book but could not bring myself to finish it. It is one of the few books that have gone into the DNF category for me.

Here is also a list of the books that were on my TBR list for the Pride Readathon but did not get read due to time constraints-

  1. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
  2. Maurice by E. M. Foster
  3. If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
  4. They Both Die in the End by Adam Silvera
  5. History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
  6. The Upside of Unrequitted by Becky Albertalli

Although I only read a handful of books for the readathon, I now have a mighty TBR to tackle. I was glad that all of the books that I read were wonderful and I look forward to reading the others on the list.


What did you do for the Pride Month?

Did you read anything that was LGBT related?

Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram @the_food_and_book_life

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Book review, Received for Review

Pralay: The Great Deluge by Vineet Bajpai

Statistics IMG_20180707_200458-01-min.jpeg

Format: eBook

Length: 330 pages

Genre: Historic fiction, Mystery, Paranormal

Publisher: VB Performance LLP

Date of publication: 10th January, 2018

Rating: 3/5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book from Readers Cosmos in exchange for an honest review


When I saw that Readers cosmos had one of my favorite genres (historic fiction) up for review, I couldn’t not read it.


The Blurb

“Even death is afraid of the White Mask…”

1700 BCE, Harappa – The devta of Harappa has fallen…tortured and condemned to the dungeons of the dead. His murdered wife’s pious blood falls on the sands of the metropolis, sealing the black fate of Harappa…forever.

2017, Banaras – A master assassin bites into cyanide, but not before pronouncing the arrival of an unstoppable, dark force. A maha-taantric offers a chilling sacrifice.

325 AD, Bithynian City (modern-day Turkey) – Unable to foresee the monster he was untethering, an extraordinary monarch commissions a terrifying world-vision spanning millennia.

1700 BCE, East of Harappa – A mystical fish-man proclaims the onset of Pralay – the extinction of mankind. The Blood River rises to avenge her divine sons.

What happens to the devta of Harappa? Is Vidyut truly the prophesied saviour? Who are the veiled overlords behind the sinister World Order? What was the macabre blueprint of the mysterious emperor at Bithynian City? Turn the pages to unravel one of the world’s greatest conspiracies and the haunting story of a lost, ancient civilization.

The Book

Pralay is the sequel to Harappa and continues where the first book ended. The book switches between the present day India set in 2017 and the old Hindustan set in 1700 BCE. The switches are clearly marked and do not confuse the reader. The author draws parallels between the two worlds throughout the book. The conspiracy theories, the revealing of the truth that has been buried under years of hearsay and the talk about Knights Templar and other mystical orders were reminiscent of the Dan Brown books without seeming to draw anything from them. The book felt fresh, if a tad bit slow.

The book begins with a summary of what transpired in the first book of the series. The Devta of Harappa is tortured by the very people who he worked tirelessly for. He swears vengeance on every citizen- man, woman, and child. The story in this book revolves around Manu, the savior of Harappa and Vidyut the last Devta, both of whom try to save the world. Manu is helped in his endeavor by Matsya, the mysterious God-like being and Vidyut by his grandfather, the Trikal Darshi. They also have a group of dedicated loyal friends with them.

Even though the book is 330 pages long, it felt like it was just setting the stage for the last book in the series. The story did not progress much from the first book and I was perplexed as to why the author needed to be so descriptive in this one. The modern day mafioso and the World Order seemed to not play any role in this book and it looked like it was written because the author knew that he would need them for the next book. What I liked about the book was the fact that the author was very clear in his definitions of Indian traditions, the Vedas and the words in regional languages. The descriptions of the paranormal occurrences were chilling. I just wish that the book could have had a definite conclusion so that it can also be read as a stand-alone.

The Author

Vineet is a first-generation entrepreneur. At age 22 he started his company Magnon which is now among the largest digital agencies in the subcontinent, and part of the Fortune 500 Omnicom Group.
He has won several entrepreneurship and corporate excellence awards, including the Entrepreneur of the Year 2016. He was recently listed among the 100 Most Influential People in India’s Digital Ecosystem.
Vineet’s second company Talentrack is disrupting the media, entertainment & creative industry in India. It is the fastest-growing online hiring and networking platform for the sector. He is an avid swimmer, a gaming enthusiast, a bonfire guitarist and a road-trip junkie.
His work include:

  1. Build from Scratch: Strategies, Practical Insights and a Stepwise Guide Into Building a Successful Start-Up Enterprise (2004)
  2. Street To The Highway: The Unspoken Secrets Behind Converting Small Businesses Into Large Companies (2011)
  3. Build from Scratch (2013)
  4. The 30-something CEO (2016)
  5. Harappa: The Curse of the Blood River (2017)
  6. Pralay: The Great Deluge (2018)

TL;DR: A historic fiction set in two contrasting worlds, the book paves the way for the next book in the series


Do you like historic fiction as much as I do?

What is your favourite book in the genre?

Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram @the_food_and_book_life

Book review, Readathon, Wrap-up

Mid-Year Wrap-up

Statistics

Total Number of Books: 62

Start date: 1st January, 2018

End Date: 30th June, 2018

5 star reads– 18 books

4 star reads– 16 books

3 star reads– 23 books

2 star reads– 5 books

1 star reads– 0 books


Best book so far– The Song of Achilles by Madelline Miller
Best sequel– A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Mass
Recent release I want to read– Homefire by Kamila Shamsie
Most anticipated release– The Good Fight by Danielle Steel
Biggest disappointment– The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth
Biggest surprise– Mango People in Banana Republic by Robert Vadra
Favorite new author– A. J. Finn
Book that made me cry– When I Hit You by Meena Kandasamy
Most beautiful book that I acquired- Circe by Madelline Miller
A book that made me smile- Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli
Favorite review that I have written- When I Hit You, Between the Grooves
Books to read before the year ends– Beartown by Fredrik Backman, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

I began blogging about books in the end of 2017. As 2018 began, I started to get a feel of what it was to be a book blogger, a book reviewer and a bookstagrammer. I started to make friends all over the community, I started to receive free review copies and I started to make connections with publication houses and distributors.

I had a great half year. I had some pretty awesome reads, I also had some abysmal reads. I lived, I learnt and now I am a bit wiser (maybe?) before I accept review copies. I became a part of the Brindi Quinn street team and got to read all of her amazing books, I also became a part of M.C. Frank’s team and got to read some of her books. I became a part of Kate Tilton’s team of book reviewers and also a part of M.C. Frank’s team of Book Robin Hoods.

I found my book divas, I had great buddy reads with b0rn_2_read, missreadsalottt, chitrahaanthem, inkless.sne, the_folded_page, fromthejournalofareader and celebrity.reads. I also discovered book clubs hosted by dr.snob and one by Rashi where I got to read a variety of books and discuss them with other book lovers. I also participated in four readathons- two hosted by Books N Beyond, One Pride Readathon hosted by Sai Ram and Dhruv Singhal and one Women centric March readathon, all of which were great experiences! To top everything off, I received books as giveaway wins and as birthday bookmails. This makes one happy bibliophile!

So here is a wrap-up of all of my reads for the first half of 2018-

5 star reads. Criteria- I loved the story and/or the style of writing, the story/concept was unique, the sentence structure, spelling, and grammar were perfect.

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang, When I Hit you by Meena Kandasamy, Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli, The Song of Achilles by Madelline Miller, Less by Andrew Sean Greer, Bill the Jungle Octopus by Angela Pink, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, Mango People in Banana Republic by Vishak Shakti, Submit by Brady Bradford, The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon, A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Mass, Atto’s Tale by Brindi Quinn, Malhaar by Ambica Uppal, Lose Me by M.C. Frank, A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bathena, Cuckold by Kiran Nagarkar, Sil in a Dark World by Brindi Quinn, Police Officer Penny by Claire Harrison

4 star reads. Criteria- I liked the story and/or the style of writing, the story/concept was reasonably unique, the sentence structure, spelling, and grammar were perfect.

Nightborne by Brindi Quinn, Flying Without Wings by Rishabh Puri, Magic ten and Beyond by Shanon Ganon, Operation Pied Piper by Jean Daish, Between the Grooves by Steve Dickinson, Nagin by Mayur Didolkar, No Ordinary Star by M.C. Frank, The Adventures of Tootsie Lama by Stuti Agarwal, The Fate of Farellah by Brindi Quinn, Animal Farm by George Orwell, The Brahmin by Ravi Shankar Etteth, Hush a Bye Baby by Deepanjana Pal, The Moon of Farellah by Brindi Quinn, Heart of Farellah by Brindi Quinn, The Tree House by Glenn Haybittle, Great Grandma Joins the Circus by Lois Davis,

3 star reads. Criteria- The story/concept was not unique but was written well, the sentence structure, spelling, and grammar were good.

Love of My Life by Rohit Sharma, Trust Me Not by Ankita Verma Dutta, The Water Rabbits by Paul Tarrago, The White Room by C.M. Albert, Prodigy Prince by Natasha Sapienza, The Boy by Nrupal Das, Letters to my Ex by Nikita Singh, Operation Hailstorm by Brett Arquette, This Love of Mine by Soumi Dutta, The Crowns of Croswald by D.E. Night, Earth to Centauri by Kumar L, Start-up Fiance by Shilpa Mudiganti, Kansa by Prassanth Kevin, Twenty-nine Going on Thirty by Andaleeb Wajid, Surrealist Awakenings by Amanda Fleet, The Fragile Thread of Hope by Pankaj Giri, Seconds by Brindi Quinn, The Relic by Ashwin Sharma and Karthik, The Eternity Duet by Brindi Quinn, A Hundred Little Flames by Preeti Shenoy, The World Remains by Brindi Quinn, Ruined by M.C. Frank, Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

2 star reads. Criteria- I did not like the story/concept, the sentence structure, spelling, and grammar were not good.

Till the End of Forever by Vivaksh Singh, Living on the Edge by Chanchal Jain, Chakravyuh- The Land of Paharias by Jitendra Attra, Something I Never Told You by Shravya Bhinder, Undelivered Letters by J. Alchem

Review Copies. Criteria- Physical copies or ebooks received from the author, publisher or distributor for the purpose of review.

Nightborne by Brindi Quinn, Till the End of Forever by Vivaksh Singh, Flying Without Wings by Rishab Puri, Magic ten and Beyond by Shanon Ganon, Operation Pied Piper by Jean Daish, Bill the Jungle Octopus by Angela Pink, Love of My Life by Rohit Sharma, Between the Grooves by Steve Dickinson, Trust Me Not by Ankita Verma Dutta, Nagin by Mayur Didolkar, Mango People in Banana Republic by Vishak Shakti, Submit by Brady Bradford, The Water Rabbits by Paul Tarrago, Living on the Edge by Chanchal Jain, No Ordinary Star by M.C. Frank, Atto’s Tale by Brindi Quinn, The White Room by C.M. Albert, The Fate of Farellah by Brindi Quinn, The Brahmin by Ravi Shankar Etteth, Chakravyuh- The Land of Paharias by Jitendra Attra, Malhaar by Ambica Uppal, Prodigy Prince by Natasha Sapienza, The Boy by Nrupal Das, The Moon of Farellah by Brindi Quinn, Letters to my Ex by Nikita Singh, Operation Hailstorm by Brett Arquette, This Love of Mine by Soumi Dutta, Lose Me by M.C. Frank, The Crowns of Croswald by D.E. Night, A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bathena, Something I Never Told You by Shravya Bhinder, Earth to Centauri by Kumar, Start-up Fiance by Shilpa Mudiganti, Heart of Farellah by Brindi Quinn, Kansa by Prassanth Kevin, Twenty-nine Going on Thirty by Andaleeb Wajid, Surrealist Awakenings by Amanda Fleet, The Fragile Thread of Hope by Pankaj Giri, Sil in a Dark World by Brindi Quinn, Seconds by Brindi Quinn, The Tree House by Glenn Haybittle, The Eternity Duet by Brindi Quinn, Great Grandma Joins the Circus by Lois Davis, Police Officer Penny by Claire Harrison, The Relic by Ashwin Sharma and Karthik, A Hundred Little Flames by Preeti Shenoy, The World Remains by Brindi Quinn, Ruined by M.C. Frank, Undelivered Letters by J. Alchem

Readathons

I participated in 4 readathons. The first was a Women Centric March Readathon in the month of March where I read books with a female author and/or a strong female character. The next was the Slay the TBR readathon hosted in May by Books N Beyond with three prompts- A book with less than 200 pages, A book that I had abandoned, A book included in a Books N Beyond box. The next was the Love is Love readathon hosted in June by Books N Beyond with three prompts- A book from the LGBT genre/ a genre that I had never tried before, A 2018 release, A book included in a Books N Beyond box. Along with this, I also participated in the Pride Readathon hosted by Sai Ram and Dhruv Singhal in June where I read books from the LGBTQ+ genre.

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang (Pride Readathon & 2nd Books N Beyond readathon), Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli (Pride Readathon & 2nd Books N Beyond readathon), The Song of Achilles by Madelline Miller (Pride Readathon & 2nd Books N Beyond readathon), Less by Andrew Sean Greer (Pride Readathon), Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (Pride Readathon), The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon (1st Books N Beyond Readathon), Living on the Edge by Chanchal Jain (1st Books N Beyond Readathon), No Ordinary Star by M.C. Frank (1st Books N Beyond Readathon), Kansa by Prassanth Kevin (Women centric March Readathon), Twenty-nine Going on Thirty by Andaleeb Wajid (Women centric March Readathon), Surrealist Awakenings by Amanda Fleet (Women centric March Readathon), Lose Me by M.C. Frank (Women centric March Readathon), The Crowns of Croswald by D.E. Night (Women centric March Readathon), A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bathena (Women centric March Readathon), Something I Never Told You by Shravya Bhinder (Women centric March Readathon), Earth to Centauri by Kumar (Women centric March Readathon), Start-up Fiance by Shilpa Mudiganti (Women centric March Readathon), Heart of Farellah by Brindi Quinn (Women centric March Readathon)

Book Clubs

I am a part of the book club hosted by Rashi where we read and discussed When I Hit You by Meena Kandasamy. We are now reading The Hate You Give for the next discussion. I am also a part of the book club hosted by dr.snob where we read The Woman in The Window by A.J. Finn and will be discussing it in the middle of July.


How has your book blogging journey been?

Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram @the_food_and_book_life

Book review, Received for Review

Love a Little Stronger by Preeti Shenoy

Statistics

Format: Paperback IMG_20180703_073141-01-min

Length: 178 pages

Genre: Non-Fiction

Publisher: Srishti Publishers & Distributors

Date of Publication: 26th April, 2018

Rating: 4/5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review


I am not usually a fan of the non-fiction genre. However, I had read Preeti Shenoy’s A Hundred Little Flames and I had liked her style of writing. Love a Little Stronger had received rave reviews and I was curious to see how I would like it. When wordbite offered a review copy, I was really happy.


The Blurb

Life is a collection of moments, some memorable and some mundane. Often it is the tiniest things that bring the greatest joy, even though at that time, we have no idea that what we are witnessing may be magical, something that we will talk about and laugh over after many years.
Packed with her hilarious narratives, poignant observations and a writing style loved by millions across the world, this book is certain to strike a chord with anybody who has children or who has been a child, themselves!
For those who have read 34 Bubblegums and Candies, this is a new version, with many additional stories. For others, it is a heart-warming, hilarious, and inspiring collection of true anecdotes from the author’s life, telling us to Love A Little Stronger, no matter what happens.

The Book

When I read the introduction to the book, I was afraid that it will be another Chicken Soup for the Soul. But I was pleasantly surprised. The author has taken various incidents that have happened in her life over the years and compiled them into little stories that are humorous and motivating at the same time.

The book is divided into five parts, each dealing with different issues. Here are some worthy mentions-

  1. A-ha Moment– The author says “Who says you have to be a socialite or a Miss Delhi to experience the a-ha moment? We can create our very own a-ha moments”. This holds true for all of us. We wait for the perfect opportunity and the perfect time to start what we want to start, always procrastinating because it feels like the time is just not right. But there is no right time. We have to go ahead and make the time right for us.
  2. The Good Days and the Bad Days– Here the author describes perfectly how all things seem to go well on a good day and how on a bad day we find that even everyday things turn into nightmares. However, the difference between a bad day and a worse day is that we can make things go well with a little effort on the bad day but not on the worse day. When we know that everyone has their share of such days, we don’t feel victimized by the Universe and find the will-power to continue on to the next day, be it good, bad or worse.
  3. The Magic of Faith– This was my favourite story in the entire book. The innocence of children and their absolute trust in their parents was heart warming. A six year old believing that her mother has the power to tell the sun to not shine too bright is the sweetest thing. What is more important is the fact that she felt that the sun did not shine too bright because her mother bid it not to. This shows how faith can move mountains. This power of faith is used by faith healers and manipulators to get their way but it can also be used by each one of us to make our loved ones have a better day.
  4. Siblings Without Rivalry– This story reminded me of how my cousins and I would frolic all summer at the village that our parents grew up in. It was an exotic place, an adventure to us city dwellers. It is only now that I realise just how much of it we took for granted. The tree climbing, mud hut making, animal chasing adventures are impossible to duplicate now.
  5. The Little Black Dot– Here, the common example of a black dot on a white background is used to convey the message that we ought not concentrate on what is wrong but only try to look at what is right. We should concentrate on the larger scheme of things and not obsess over the minuscule details. This positive attitude will ensure that we keep our chin up and go through life with a zeal that will be hard for the Universe to squash.
  6. White Lies– Here I felt like the author turned very preachy. The book certainly got the Chicken Soup-y vibes that I was desperately trying to avoid. I felt that it was a bit presumptuous of the author to suggest that things like not answering the phone or the door while she was working or just explaining things so that her partner saw things her way would work for other people too. There are plenty of people who live with an abusive or a dominant partner where just explaining things would be counter productive. I felt that the book would have benefited without these last couple of chapters
  7. Family or Career– “Only if we are happy can we make our loved ones happy”. This is something that I am sure all of us have experienced. One cannot give others happiness while being miserable on the inside. Like Master Shifu says “Inner Peace” is what is important for everyone.

TL;DR: A quick read that is full of funny anecdotes and positivity coming out of the wazoo


Have you read books that are comprised of incidents that have happened in a person’s life?

What did you think of it?

Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram @the_food_and_book_life

Book review, Received for Review

Nightborne by Brindi Quinn

Statistics

Format: Paperback  IMG_20180630_185252-01-min.jpeg

Length: 248 pages

Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Publisher: Never and Ever Publishers

Date of Publication: 30th May, 2018

Rating: 4/5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review


As a part of the Brindi Quinn Review Warriors street team, I have received all books written by Brindi and have loved them all. Brindi manages to inject each book with something very unique.

When I discovered that I will be receiving her new release, I was very very excited and I now that I have read the book, I feel justified in my excitement.


The Blurb

Ain’t no shame in that Lightborne game.

I fumble with the latch and slip the pendant into place around my neck.

I should know better than to don antiques of questionable origin. Apparently, this is a lesson none of the Bexleys have grasped.

As the chain makes contact with my skin, something unseen moves through the space, through the clearing, through my body.
First, it’s the hairs on my arms – standing as if someone’s just run a flush balloon over them. Next, comes the fuzz of my neck, plucking outward in a similar way, inviting a shiver to run down my back. My fingertips swell turquoise. My earlobe sizzles. Lastly, the gears contained at the bottom of the chain rotate against one another, lighting bright blue with magickal power I haven’t offered.
And then it’s over, and the gears are dull with my glow.
So I’ve just enchanted a mystical pendant for some unknown purpose.

The purpose isn’t unknown for long.

Light and shadow collide in this heart-pounding conclusion to the Lightborne saga!”

 

I’m not a princess.

I am a world-hopping, evil-fighting badass

The Book

Nightborne starts where Lightborne ended. Bexley is burdened with the job of saving the world- Mortal realm, Nocturne (the Darkling realm) and Yggdrasil (the Lightborne realm) by moving the tree from Yggdrasil to the Mortal world. She finally has her memory restored but has conflicting feelings about Kinley. Add to this, her dynamics with Pidd and Alaska and we have a really interesting story on our hands.

As with all other books by Brindi, I am left flabbergasted at how she manages to create characters and scenes that are unique to each of her books. No two characters share similar mannerisms. Even the style dialogues for characters in each book is different, almost like they were written by different authors. This goes to show just how talented Brindi actually is.

I hadn’t much liked the character Bexley in Lightborne. I had felt that she was too flaky (I’m sure that all the memory modifications had something to do with it) to be considered a worthy heroine. But that opinion changed as soon as I started reading this book. Here she is strong and assertive, knows what she wants and goes for it even if it not the most popular choice. I didn’t much like the part where Aiden comes back to guide Bexley. It felt like she would have been able to complete her mission even without that part of the story but I didn’t like Aiden when he was alive either so I might be biased.

The book is fast paced and humorous. Bexley and Pidd made me laugh out loud plenty of times. Alaska was a sweetheart and I loved her. Kinley didn’t do much for me in this book but since I loved him in the previous book, he gets a free pass. I loved the book even more than I loved Lightborne. The cover designed by Victoria Cooper is beautiful and I was glad that Brindi sent a paperback of this book.


TL;DR: A fast-paced, action packed fantasy with a strong female main character that is sure to keep you glued to the pages


Do you like the Fantasy genre?

What is your favourite book in the genre?

Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram @the_food_and_book_life

Book review, Received for Review

Till The End of Forever by Vivaksh Singh

Statistics

Format: Paperback img_20180629_110521_7061514703362271387444.jpg

Length: 232 pages

Genre: Romance, Mystery

Publisher: Srishti Publishers & Distributors

Date of Publishing: 10th June 2018

Rating: 2/5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review


I don’t usually read much of romance but I was approached by one of my Bookstagram friends for the review for this book. What this experience taught me was that I should trust my instincts better about a book. Even though the blurb looked interesting, the execution of the story disappointed me. I often find that newly emerging Indian authors who dabble in the romance genre have watched a bit too much of Hindi soaps. The twists in the tales and the characterization are reminiscent of the overly dramatic people that we see on-screen.


The Blurb

The past is always mysterious. It neither leaves completely, nor stays fully. Who would know it better than Ayaan. He was its victim. And so was Avani. When these two crumbled souls met, they realized in their togetherness that only a broken piece can complete another. Together, they start fighting the pain of their past, feeling the bliss of the present and appreciating their lives.
But just when they thought things were perfect, life played its cards.
Ayaan, who was trying to put life’s pieces together, broke down when he was held responsible for a close one’s murder.
And Avani… well, her life was going to take such sharp turns that she would crave for death.
Alas, this was just the beginning of what destiny had planned for them!
Will Avani wait for the scars to heal or will she fight with her bruised soul? Why does the truth keep going deeper as she chases it?
Deeply sensitive and brutally thrilling, Till The End Of Forever is a romantic thriller that takes a dig in the dark sides of god, nature of human pain, power of selfless care, and proves how true love can make you live till the end of forever.

The Book

Till the End of Forever begins with two girls on their vacation, planning to spend three days with one of their family. Here Avani meets Ayaan, a kindred soul like her and they develop a special bond. Their dark pasts threaten to overwhelm them but they find solace in each other’s company. The author tried to add an element of mystery by not being very specific about the dialogues. This continued for the rest of the book with a lot of scenes ending without a definite conclusion. The happenings are left to the reader’s interpretation when the same scene continues a few pages later. While this could be a result of trying to condense a long story into a commercially favorable length, the onus of making the story understandable lies both on the author as well as the editorial team.

The story revolves around Avani and Ayaan and their whirlwind romance. Avani, a student of medicine spouts diagnoses like its nobody’s business. Diseases like ‘Swasiomia’ are made up according to the author’s fancy. Although he adds a disclaimer saying that this is fictional, I do not understand why he decided to make up a disease with an entire array of choking hazards or alcohol-related disorders at his disposal. Creative liberty of an author certainly goes a long way. But generic names like ‘Jagah’ for the village, ‘Sheher’ for the town and ‘Ilaakha’ for a location really got my goat.

The girl who misses her classes to come back to meet a boy that she has only spent a total of three days with, agrees to go to Venice with him at the drop of a hat. In an unknown country, the boy hatches a plan to help a man whom they literally just met, to get a girl to elope with the said man. Later when life gets hard, Ayaan again chooses to move to Venice albeit without documentation. How they plan to survive as illegal immigrants is beyond my understanding. I was also flummoxed by Avani who continues to share her space with Ayaan even though she believes him to be a rapist. Avani’s backstory is hinted at but we never discover why her Uncle hated her.

What I liked about the book was Ayaan’s speech where he compared religion and evolution. There were a lot of valid points and the argument was well structured. However, grammatical errors like “his face was untrimmed” or “buzz boy” for ‘busboy’ were difficult to accept. Inaccuracies such as “[…]his cell phone was on the table and he was staring at it restlessly, as if waiting for someone to pop out of it” followed by the sentence “his cell phone was in his hands and head on the table” were jarring. A better job at proofreading and editing could have avoided these blunders along with mistakes like not matching the right pronoun for the gender. All in all, a confusing story and a poorly edited book that certainly requires more pages to gently ease the reader into its many folds. If the author had concentrated on just a couple of the twists that he has come up with, the book would have been easier to read.

TL;DR: A short read that would have benefited with more pages dedicated to explaining the scenes in detail and cutting down on the numerous twists


Do you have a favourite book in the romance genre?

Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram @the_food_and_book_life

Book review, Received for Review

Flying Without Wings by Rishabh Puri

Statistics

Format: Paperback

IMG_20180625_173943-01-01-min.jpeg

Length: 200 pages

Genre: Fiction, Romance

Publisher: Black Ink

Date of Publishing: 6th October, 2017

Rating: 4.5/5 stars


I sometimes find that love stories, especially the ones by Indian authors are a bit too sappy for my taste. They try too hard or not hard enough and end up feeling like a poorly made Bollywood movie. However, the premise of the book seemed great so I decided to try it. I am glad to say that I was pleasantly surprised.


The Blurb

For Milli Bajwa, life is at a stand-still. Grounded in the Chandigarh airport where she works day after day, she watches flights leaving for destinations she knows she’ll never visit. Loveless and luckless, she would rather bury her nose in a book than face her grim reality. And then, on a whim, she swipes right on a new dating app, and finds the man of her dreams – someone who can sweep her off her feet and teach her how to fly. But the mysterious and charming Karan Singhania has secrets of his own, and a heart damaged in more ways than one. This is the story of two people about to find out how far they’re willing to go for the promise of true love.

The Book

Flying Without Wings is the story of Milli and Karan, two unlikely protagonists who are brought together by fate. Milli is a down on her luck young woman who works very hard to make ends meet. She has to deal with her opiate addicted mother and must also come to terms with her martyred brother. She isn’t helped in her goal by her admirer- Rahull. Rahull pesters her for dates even after being clearly told that she isn’t interested in him. On the other hand, our hero is a successful business tycoon who seems to have life figure out. He is surrounded by opulence and beautiful women. He hops onto a plane to vacation in Paris when he needs a break, he buys expensive perfumes and jewelry for his dates without breaking a sweat. But none of these luxuries cure him of his loneliness. As luck would have it, both these lonely souls are matched on a dating app and discover that the person that they were waiting for was right at their fingertips all along.

The author has managed to portray the trappings of the middle class Indian household to perfection. The fear that a repair in one room could mean the difference between eating or starving the next week can make a person bitter. However, Milli manages to keep her sunny disposition. I was a bit thrown by inaccuracies like Milli driving a sedan while she claims that she can’t afford to repair sink that her mother broke. Certain things like ‘screen door’, digging holes for fence posts while most perimeters in Indian houses are built of brick, ‘broiler’ in the oven in a house that is falling apart especially since Indian cooking does not require ovens and they are considered a luxury, ‘lunch meat’, getting high on opiate pills, dialing 102 bringing trained EMTs while most of the ambulances in the country would be lucky to have anyone other than a driver were too much to digest in a story that was set firmly in Chandigarh. It felt like the book was pandering to an audience outside the country much like some of the well known Bollywood movies. Medical jargon too was inaccurate like “an aortic valve stenosis was needed to save his life” while in actuality, an aortic stenosis is a cardiac condition that results in narrowing of the exit of the ventricle. Given that the author has personal experiences with cardiac problems, a simple read by a qualified medical doctor or even a google search would have cleared these things up. It felt a bit sloppy in a work that was otherwise flawless.

The angst that the characters feel, the helplessness in the face of adversities, the innocence of their friendship, the inevitability of their love and the acceptance of Milli by Karan’s family were beautifully written. I teared up a couple of times which I had not expected at all. I was very glad that the author did not resort to inserting steamy scenes to showcase Karan and Milli’s love. Their relationship was allowed to progress naturally and it touched my heart. I loved how the book dealt with the feeling of being alone in a crowd. The Karan-Amit relationship was sweet. The book had impeccable grammar as opposed to some recent Indian romances that I have had the (dis)pleasure of reading. On the whole, a must read for people who swear by the Romance genre.

The Author

Rishabh Puri was born in 1987 in Chandigarh and raised in Nigeria. At age 1, he was diagnosed with hyperlipidemia and at age 9 with aortic stenosis. Rishabh Puri has been noted to use meditation as a form of stress release. He attended an Indian school, before moving to a British school, eventually getting a degree in Business Administration from the United Kingdom through distance learning. He later completed his master’s degree in Business Administration (International Trade) from UK via distance learning.

His work include:

  1. Inside The Heart of Hope (2016)
  2. Flying without wings (2017)
  3. Seductive Affair (2018)

TL;DR: A sweet yet powerful story that talks about love, loss, loneliness and damaged hearts.


Do you like love stories? or do you think they are too sappy?

Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram @the_food_and_book_life

Book review, Readathon

The Prince and The Dressmaker by Jen Wang

Statistics

Format: eBook (Kindle) IMG_20180624_172704-01-min

Length: 288 pages

Genre: Graphic novel, LGBTQ+, Young adult, Sequential art, Romance

Publisher: First Second

Date of Publication: 13th February 2018

Rating: 5/5 stars


This was my third prompt (A book from LGBTQ genre or from a genre that you have never tried) for the #loveislove readathon hosted by BooksNBeyond and the fifth book for the #pridereadathon hosted by Sai Ram and Dhruv Singhal. I have never read graphic novels. Even as a kid I didn’t much like comics. I decided that this was the perfect time to step out of my comfort zone and discover new things.


The Blurb

Paris, at the dawn of the modern age:

Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride―or rather, his parents are looking for one for him. Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. At night he puts on daring dresses and takes Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia―the hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion!

Sebastian’s secret weapon (and best friend) is the brilliant dressmaker Frances―one of only two people who know the truth: sometimes this boy wears dresses. But Frances dreams of greatness, and being someone’s secret weapon means being a secret. Forever. How long can Frances defer her dreams to protect a friend? Jen Wang weaves an exuberantly romantic tale of identity, young love, art, and family. A fairy tale for any age, The Prince and the Dressmaker will steal your heart.

The Book

The story begins with Frances, a down-on-her-luck seamstress designing a gown for a ball. Her employer fires her for her bold design choice but she is lucky to have caught the eye of a wealthy noble man/woman. When she discovers that the elegant Lady Crystallia is in fact, Prince Sebastian cross-dressing as a woman and has hired her to be his personal designer, she is happy to design edgy dresses for him.

With the Prince’s association, she meets powerful people who love her designs and offer her prestigious positions but the one person whom she really wants to show her work to is off limits in order to protect the Prince’s secret. This does not sit well with her and she leaves to make her own way through the world. Meanwhile, the King and the Queen are desperate to have the Prince married and he accepts the responsibility only to have his worse fears realised. How the kingdom and more importantly, his parents accept his lifestyle choices is what makes the crux of the story.

The ease with which Frances and Emile accept the cross-dressing Prince was heart warming. They see it as a perfectly normal lifestyle choice and go about their day as usual. The turn of the century society on the other hand is quick to judge and ridicule. The author captured emotions of each character perfectly. The pictures were beautiful and funny. At the end of the book she takes us along for a tour through her process to create this work of art. It takes so much work to create a graphic novel that we are quick to dismiss. I loved how the LGBTQ+ issue was normalised even in the era that the story was set in. The characters are young and innocent and are just beginning to discover their identity. This makes the story so much more sweet and you can’t help but fall in love with all of them.

The Author

Jen Wang is a cartoonist, writer, and illustrator based in Los Angeles. She is also a co-founder and organizer for Los Angeles based comics festival Comic Arts LA.

Her work include:

  1. Koyo Be Good (2010)
  2. In Real Life (2014)
  3. The Prince and the Dressmaker (2018)

TL;DR: A sweet coming of age story where the characters are discovering their identity. The beautiful illustrations make the book a joy to read.


Do you read graphic novels?

Which is your favourite?

Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram @the_food_and_book_life

Book review

When I Hit you, Or A Portrait of The Writer as a Young Wife by Meena Kandasamy

Statistics

Format: eBook (Kindle) IMG_20180625_110802_483-min.jpg

Length: 256 pages

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Feminism

Publisher: Atlantic Books

Date of Publication: May 4th, 2017

Rating: 5/5 stars


A book club that I am a part of had When I Hit You as the Book of the Month. I had been wanting to read the book since a long time but was apprehensive because of all the trigger warnings. So this presented the perfect opportunity because I knew that I would have other people reading along with me in case I wanted to talk about something. The book was also shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2018. I buddy read this book with my fellow Book Diva- Unnati.


The Blurb

Seduced by politics and poetry, the unnamed narrator falls in love with a university professor and agrees to be his wife, but what for her is a contract of love is for him a contract of ownership. As he sets about reducing her to his idealised version of a kept woman, bullying her out of her life as an academic and writer in the process, she attempts to push back – a resistance he resolves to break with violence and rape. 

Smart, fierce and courageous When I Hit You is a dissection of what love meant, means and will come to mean when trust is undermined by violence; a brilliant, throat-tightening feminist discourse on battered faces and bruised male egos; and a scathing portrait of traditional wedlock in modern India.

The Book

When I Hit You is a raw rendition of what happens inside a woman’s mind when she sees no means of escape from her abuser. Told in the first person narrative, the story involves a newly married couple who move to a city where the wife knows no one, cannot speak the language and cannot step out of the house without dealing with her husband’s ridicule. What really got to me was the relatability of the narrator. She is an 80s child who grew up on communism in an overbearing yet loving family. She is an educated young woman who reads books of social importance, who has achieved financial independence, who has had her share of relationships and who knows what she wants from life. She could easily be any of us. She chooses her life partner. She is not a naive doe eyed girl who is forced into marriage. The fact that she knows her fiance and loves him only to discover immediately after the wedding that he is a wife beating sadist is really scary. Who do you trust if it is so easy for people to fool you?

The story shows us the everyday perils of a strong willed woman living with a man who believes that it is his duty to ‘correct’ and ‘educate’ his wife on what a perfect couple is. His sociopathic tendencies is visible in him resorting to calmly burn himself in order to pray on her sensitivities and to get her to do things his way. He has no scruples about bad mouthing his wife to his co-workers and neighbours. Her writing is ridiculed and critiqued till she agrees to delete them, her phone calls, emails and texts are monitored, she is only allowed half an hour everyday with the internet. She is made to decommission her Facebook account even though she needs to stay in touch with her contacts to receive further work. The part that really tore me up was how he deleted all her emails in one fell swoop in order to ‘free’ her. It is very difficult to imagine what she must have gone through in that moment. The tone of the sentences surrounding that incident speaks volumes.

Like the narrator says at the end of the book, people are amazed that something like this could happen to someone like her. They do not comprehend that the mindset of someone stuck in an abusive relationship is of trying to survive each day, to avoid pain in any way possible and to not anger the abuser. Add to this the fact that her parents urged her to stay with her husband at all costs, her isolation from the rest of the world, the strict meagerness of her surroundings to cure her of her petit bourgeois lifestyle, the daily rape and beating and the threat to her life, it is not surprising that she endured her punishments for four months. It is only natural to feel disbelief that a person could change so quickly and become so monstrous after appearing to be the perfect son, boyfriend, husband and son-in-law.

The book, although only 256 pages in length, cannot be read at one go. It needs time to be assimilated. I was horrified and wanted to stop reading at several places but the need to find out how she survives kept me going late into the night. I also noticed that the book greatly affected my mood and made me very agitated. The book drew upon the author’s experiences in an abusive marriage and strives to lift the veil of silence that surrounds domestic violence and marital rape in modern India. Often times I find that a book with first person narrative gets a bit too self-centered but this book was brilliantly written. I went into a book-hangover of two days following the completion of this book. The short listing for Women’s Prize for Fiction was truly deserved.

The Author

Meena Kandasamy has actively sought to combine her love for the written word with the struggle for social justice through poetry, translation, fiction and essays for the last fifteen years.  drew upon her own experience within an abusive marriage, to lift the veil on the silence that surrounds domestic violence and marital rape in modern India.

She grew up in Chennai, India where she lived most of her life before moving to London in 2016. She was a fellow of the International Writing Program (IWP) at the University of Iowa in 2009, and a British Council Charles Wallace India Trust Fellow at the University of Kent in 2011. This year, she was the Hope Street Writer-in-Residence at the University of Liverpool in May. She is also one of four London ‘City of Stories’ Writer-in-Residence, as part of a project run by Spread the Word and the Association of London Chief Librarians to host creative writing workshops around the capital.  She holds a PhD in sociolinguistics. Her work has appeared in eighteen languages.


TL;DR: A brilliant rendering of the fate of a person’s spirit when faced with daily abuse; an eye opener regarding social stigmas of a failed marriage; a gut wrenching story of a young woman trapped with no signs of exit visible.


Have you read anything so powerful that you were unable to start reading anything else for the next couple of days?

Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram @the_food_and_book_life

Book review, Readathon

Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

Statistics

Format: eBook (Kindle) IMG_20180624_183112_728-min.jpg

Length: 343 pages

Genre: LGBTQ+, Romance, Contemporary, Young Adult

Publisher: HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray

Date of Publication: 24th April, 2018

Rating: 5/5 stars


Leah on the Offbeat in the second book in the Creekwood series, after Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. I had quite liked Simon and was curious about this. This was my second prompt (a 2018 release) for the #loveislove readathon hosted by BooksNBeyond and the fourth book for the #pridereadathon hosted by Sai Ram and Dhruv Singhal.


The Blurb

Leah Burke—girl-band drummer, master of deadpan, and Simon Spier’s best friend from the award-winning Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda—takes center stage in this novel of first love and senior-year angst.

When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.

So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.

The Book

In Simon, I felt like Leah was a character who did not get enough space to develop. So I wondered if I would be able to connect with her in this book but I must say that I love Leah more than I loved Simon. I could really relate with a lot of things that she was going through and was gratified to see these emotions in words.

The story begins with Simon and the gang in their Senior Year. They are all nostalgic about High School ending and are frantically hoping that they are accepted into their  favourite Universities. Add to this the pressure of wanting to be close to their partner, and we have a recipe for drama. They are all excited for their Senior Prom but as always, prom ends in a disaster… or does it?

Leah is well loved by her mother and her gang of friends. She grew up with Simon and Nick and is the drummer in their all-girl band. She has boys who want to impress her and take her to the prom with a promposal. She is a talented artist. It looks like she lives a great life but she is lonely. She is secretly in love with Abby but cannot do anything about it because nobody knows that she is bisexual. She also cannot imagine doing anything that might upset Abby and Nick who are dealing with drama of their own. What confuses her is the attention that Abby seems to throw her way. She keeps souvenirs that remind her of Leah, she holds Leah’s hand, she gives Leah secret smiles that seem to convey more than they should. Is that just a ‘straight’ girl thing? Or does Abby like her back? Leah has lived with these questions for a year and a half.

I loved how the author made it perfectly OK to be lonely even when surrounded by people that love you. She gave the awkward nerds a voice. I was so pleased to see that not being straight was accepted so easily by everyone in this book as opposed to the previous one where it led to Simon’s blackmail. The issue of racism was also talked about and I was glad to see that Leah stood up to it even if it meant losing a friend. As someone who is shy and awkward and is not sure of how to go about getting what I most desire, I could relate to Leah on multiple levels. The scene where she considers spending the entire spring break at home, away from everyone else was something that I have considered numerous times.

The author had the high school jargon spot on without seeming to try too hard. The interaction between Leah and her mother warmed me up. It is so rare to see a healthy family in books these days. The way that every single person in Leah’s gang selflessly tried to make others feel better renewed my faith in the youth of today. The book is  sweet and funny. The uncertainty that comes with being bisexual was very well represented. The inherent teenage angst of crushes combined with emerging sexual identity is an undercurrent that is constantly present in the book. It is this subtle second layer that made me fall in  love with it.


TL;DR: A sweet story that deals with separation anxiety, young love and sexual identity that will have you chuckling with delight at plenty of places.


What have you been reading this Pride Month?

Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram @the_food_and_book_life