Saturday, 26 November 2011

2012 Harry Potter Reading Challenge

The Reading Fever's 2012 Harry Potter Reading Challenge is going to be EPIC because Harry Potter has always been my life! Harry Potter introduced me to reading writing, random spell-casting and I got to know my now bestest friends through much Harry Potter and Tom Felton versus Daniel Radcliffe-related bonding (we were eleven years old). Post Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows equaled post-Potter depression. Post-Deathly Hallows the movie part 2 was even worse. My friends and I stayed till the end-credits, refusing to believe that it was all over.

It has been a while since I've reread the series, drooled at the Great Hall feast food, laughed every time Ron says "bloody hell" and realised that oh my god, Harry is all grown up which is so WRONG. We grew up together before [SPOILER ALERT (highlight to read)] circumstances shaped him into the level-headed hero that he became with adorable kids given names like Albus Severus and Lily Luna. 

I'm itching to reread the series, especially since it has been a while since I've reread the series in the correct order. So I'm really excited about the 2012 Harry Potter Challenge. Check it out if you (gasp) haven't read the Harry Potter series yet and want to or if you want to reread the series again for zillionth time, because Harry Potter is awesome like that. It never ceases to be any less magical.

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly


BROOKLYN: Andi Alpers is on the edge. She’s angry at her father for leaving, angry at her mother for not being able to cope, and heartbroken by the loss of her younger brother, Truman. Rage and grief are destroying her. And she’s about to be expelled from Brooklyn Heights’ most prestigious private school when her father intervenes. Now Andi must accompany him to Paris for winter break.

PARIS: Alexandrine Paradis lived over two centuries ago. She dreamed of making her mark on the Paris stage, but a fateful encounter with a doomed prince of France cast her in a tragic role she didn’t want—and couldn’t escape.

Two girls, two centuries apart. One never knowing the other. But when Andi finds Alexandrine’s diary, she recognizes something in her words and is moved to the point of obsession. There’s comfort and distraction for Andi in the journal’s antique pages—until, on a midnight journey through the catacombs of Paris, Alexandrine’s words transcend paper and time, and the past becomes suddenly, terrifyingly present.


The first few pages of Revolution depressed me for no reason. It depressed me as I thought, Oh no. Not another book about an over privileged kid ruining her own life. The angst was at its peak. The characters were all over the place. It was way too depressing. Especially since I'd loved, loved, LOVED Jennifer Donnelly's A Northern Light.

But then it got better.

THANK GOD it got better.

Andi's angst and depression was warranted.

Alexandrine's part of the story wasn't just a filler. Alexandrine was as much of a main character as Andi and I was as interested in her story as Andi's. I also LOVED how both their stories were skillfully weaved together and were interconnected- how parallels were drawn between present day Brooklyn and Paris during the revolution.

Andi's world and the world of the French Revolution were both richly painted. The amount of detail and the way all the plot lines were delicately balanced was something I was left marveling- with Andi's thesis, her moments with Virgil (the guy she meets in Paris who drives a cab called "EPIC RIDE"), the diary of Alexandrine and the story of Louis Charles.

But at the same time, some of the coincidences in the book were a little too coincidental and turns in the plot entirely dependent on fate and destiny. Andi's father's character felt a bit too flat, too extreme, though his decisions and his own struggle felt heart breakingly real. But the minor flaws didn't matter. REVOLUTION was a book that was intense and emotional, combining the fates of two similar yet totally different girls separated by centuries and the heart and soul of which was the French Revolution as well as music, Andi's second nature.

The best part of REVOLUTION? I felt like I was a part of it. I got lost in the well-researched world of Donnelly's and her words that stirred something within me. I struggled as hard as Andi to find the point of the book, the inner struggles, the revolution, the point of it all and as I hit the end, I got answers, just when she did.

"Oh, dead man, you're dead wrong," I tell him. "The world goes on stupid and brutal, but I do not. Can't you see? I do not."

Because I'm a history nut and because the title of the book alone was meaningful on so many different levels (capturing a tangle of emotions, especially pain, sadness, the "WHY?!"s and guilt, so convincingly), this book made me go WOW.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

The Disreputable History of Frankie-Landau Banks by E. Lockhart

The Disreputable History of Frankie-Landau Banks by E. Lockhart is not your average YA read. Sure, there’s romance, quirky characters and you can relate to parts of it. But the book begins, rather than ends with Frankie catching the eye of Mathew Livingston, the “big man” of Alabaster Preparatory School. Frankie, who has acquired curves and tamed her frizzy hair over the summer is finally noticed by Mathew Livingston, who she has been crushing on for a long time. When she’s with Mathew, she also gets acquainted with his group of friends who are privileged, fun loving and members of a secret society called The Loyal Order of The Basset Hounds which has existed in Alabaster Prep since the 1950s.

Whether it’s that she’s the “bunny rabbit” of her family or that Mathew treats her like she’s someone to be taken care of OR that she has just taken a class called Cities, Art and Protest, she is spurred to infiltrate the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds, which has always been an all-men society. Shaking their organization by impersonating the Bassett King and collecting information about them, she ends up controlling them and the direction of the pranks of the Bassets.


I had been putting off reading The Disreputable History of Frankie-Landau Banks for a whole summer. Why? I don’t know. Despite the amazing reviews it had gotten, the plot seemed too vague to really make an impression on me. That was a mistake I shouldn’t have made. Because I found The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks to be BRILLIANT. Let’s look at why,

1. FRANKIE LANDAU-BANKS. What a masterpiece of a heroine! I loved her quirkiness, her need to prove herself and love for “imaginary neglected positives” (like petuous, from impetuous and dulgent, from indulgent). Oh, and that she reads P. G. Wodehouse, which spurred her love for imaginary neglected positives. I LOVE P. G. Wodehouse. His novels are like desert!

There is also a vulnerability to her, that’s odd when paired with her brains, ambition and determination but is nevertheless there. On the whole, these things made her likeable and towards the end, you, along with the detached narrator, are sure to believe that Frankie is destined to change the world.

I love boarding school stories! They remind me of Harry Potter and the Enid Blyton’s which makes me happy! Alabaster Prep, a swanky prep school in the same league as Andover and Exeter is described by Frankie’s father, an alumnus of the school and the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds, as a school that will help you get connected and set you for life. Through the bonds fostered by the pranks, midnight wanderings and parties, of course.

3. THE PRESENT DAY BASSETS. Frankie says that along with Mathew Livingston, she kind of fell in love with the group of boys he hangs out with as well. They are a bit silly, elitist and have a knack for not remembering anyone who’s not in their group but also have clever conversations and their antics make her (and us) laugh. We end up falling in love with these boys as well, despite their exclusivity and self centeredness and in a way, BECAUSE of their exclusivity and self centeredness.

4. GIRL POWER! The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks is all about feminism and girl power! Frankie is prone to being underestimated and coddled in the “patriarchal institution” that is Alabaster Prep (which was previously all-boys) as well as in her own family. When everybody finally sees what she can do, most of them shun her, while the same stunts provoked admiration and hero-worship when believed to be carried out by a boy.

“Why did you do that, Frankie?” asked Porter. “I mean, it was brilliant, what you did, what you made us do- but why would you bother? That’s what I can’t figure out.”

Frankie sighed. “Have you ever heard of the panopticon?” she asked him.

Porter shook his head.

“Have you ever been in love?”

He shook his head again.

“Then I can’t explain it,” Frankie said.

(p. 326/327)
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks is a book, the crux of which is centered on the result of crushing on one of those hotshot boys everyone wants to be as well as the desire to prove oneself, to be more than just arm candy. It is more than just another Young Adult romance. It is about a fifteen year old girl who dares to step out of the box, cross the line and in the process, opens our minds and makes us introspect, laugh and want to be her friend. Best. Book. Ever.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars xD

Monday, 21 November 2011

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

To say I had high expectations for Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephenie Perkins is an understatement. Stephenie Perkins' (author of Lola and the Boy Next Door) debut novel, Anna and the French Kiss had reawakened my urge for fun, quirky and clever young adult fiction (a void that only Sarah Dessen had been able to fill). Anna and the French Kiss took place in PARIS and Anna's love interest was called Etienne (!!), who had an English accent (!!!)! Her father bore an eerie resemblance to Nicholas Sparks and the novel had its share of cute, hilarious and swoon-worthy moments!

Is Lola and the Boy Next Door as good as its companion novel Anna and the French Kiss? Does it live up to the deservedly high expectations?


Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit -- more sparkly, more fun, more wild -- the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood. When Cricket steps out of his sister's shadow and back into Lola's life, Lola must finally reconcile a lift her feelings for the boy next door?

heartfelt dialogue . lovable characters . CRICKET IS ALL KINDS OF AWESOME . wasn't as good ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS for me but was still really, really good

The good news is that Lola and the Boy Next Door has its share of cute and heartwarming moments. The characters are as lovable (Lola gives 'unique' a whole new spin to it) as the characters in Anna and the French Kiss. Anna and Etienne also make appearances in the novel- which felt a little forced but is still great. Etienne still makes you swoon!

And Cricket, the guy who comes back into Lola's life- oh boy! Cricket is the regular boy next door- inhibited, dorky and completely lovable. He makes your heart melt! As does Lola's extended family- including her two overprotective dads and her homeless biological mother, all of whom really, really make this book work as you warm up to most of them. Even characters you don't care for in the beginning eventually win you over- they are just so genuine, each of them justified in their own way.

On the whole, Lola and the Boy Next Door was an easy novel to read. The characters were very real and the dialogue was heartfelt. Still, it did not rival Anna and the French Kiss. Lola and the Boy Next Door wasn't necessarily unputdownable and Anna and the French Kiss was just more entertaining and engrossing. Nevertheless, I will definitely pick up the third and final companion novel (Isla and the Happily Ever After) when it's out!

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Sunday, 20 November 2011

A Girl Like Me by Swati Kaushal

It has been a week since I picked up A Girl Like Me by Swati Kaushal and some parts of the book are still so fresh and vivid in my mind! Featuring the typical spoilt, rich girl, the goofy boy who does his own thing and the guy who will always be a little out of your league, A Girl Like Me took me back to school. High school can have its share of sweet and heart wrenching moments as well as moments of angst and confusion. This was captured amazingly!


Where does the protagonist, Anisha Rai fit in all of this? Anisha, or Ani, who spent a chunk of her childhood in Minnesota, comes back to Delhi where her mother takes up a job as a creative director of a hotshot company. India brings back memories of her father, who is no more and she is determined to be detached and withdrawn. But in spite of herself, she is reunited with her childhood friend Keds, finds her own group of friends at school and falls for an older guy, college theatre enthusiast Kunal, who may or may not be good for her. In the home front, Anisha befriends the girl next door, triggering unforeseen obstacles that creates a strain in her relationship with her mother.

well-written . light hearted fun, drama . gut wrenching climax . could’ve done with a little less?!

The deceptively light start follows a gut wrenching climax and at the end of the story, Ani’s understanding of herself, the world and the way things were and will be deepens.  Overall, A Girl Like Me is a well-written coming of age story. What really stood out were the parts of the book set in school- with the light hearted fun, drama and secondary characters who frankly, I loved more than the main character. But at the same time, it’s the problems at home and Anisha’s relationships outside school that majorly contribute to the intensity of the crux of the plot.

While usually in a book you might feel like it lacks that “something more”, with A Girl Like Me, I felt like it could’ve done with a little less. Little less of a certain neighbour subplot. It’s like that 90210 episode that would've worked better without the zillion sociopath characters… though the particular subplot of A Girl Like Me had nothing to do with sociopaths. What I’m trying to say is that while there were some characters who had depth and were lovable, some characters who though three-dimensional were downright unlikable, there was one character whose presence just… irked me. But maybe it’s me being nitpicky. Maybe the book may not have worked without that element of it.

Either way, the book did strike an accurate balance between the light hearted and the dark, school and home and made for a mostly relatable and moderately realistic read!

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

Aaaand It's a book blog!

After spending my end-semester holidays reading more than seven to eight books (mostly YA, with a little bit of chic lit and mainstream fiction) I thought, why not start a book blog? I've been reviewing everything I've read just to keep track of the books I read for quite sometime. 

And so this blog was born. 

I haven't book blogged ever. I've just been following book blogs all my life. But. This might work! I hope you stick around. :)