Monday, 29 July 2013

ARC Review: This Girl by Colleen Hoover (Slammed #3)

Publication date: August 13th, 2013
Publisher: Atria Books
Stars: 3.5/5
Source: NetGalley
There are two sides to every love story. Now hear Will’s.

Colleen Hoover’s New York Times bestselling Slammed series has brought countless readers to their knees with a whirlwind of love, passion, and heartache.

Layken and Will’s love has managed to withstand the toughest of circumstances and the young lovers, now married, are beginning to feel safe and secure in their union. As much as Layken relishes their new life together, she finds herself wanting to know everything there is to know about her husband, even though Will makes it clear he prefers to keep the painful memories of the past where they belong. Still, he can’t resist his wife’s pleas and so he begins to untangle his side of the story, revealing for the first time his most intimate feelings and thoughts, retelling both the good and bad moments, and sharing a few shocking confessions of his own from the time when they first met.

In This Girl, Will tells the story of their complicated relationship from his point of view. Their future rests on how well they deal with the past in this final installment of the beloved Slammed series.

The third part to the Slammed series is Slammed all over again, only in Will's perspective! It's told in flashbacks and is narrated by Will to Layken during their honeymoon. I do not enjoy same-story-from-another-character's-perspective kind of novels... Usually, I find it to be a waste as I rarely feel like I come away with much.

While I did want to read This Girl, I believed it wasn't a MUST HAVE... I'd much rather read about a ten-years-later plotline featuring Kel, Kierstan and Caulder! As far as I could see it, Will and Lake's story was done. While I stand by my initial opinion, I did enjoy reading This Girl.

The main reason? The nostalgia factor! Slammed, for me, was a terrific novel. It remains my favourite of the series. Apart from introducing me to slam poetry, it was heartache and heartbreak rolled into one. This Girl was a great way to revisit the beginnings of Lake and Will's relationship. They had some really cute moments and a ton of "Oh crap this is not happening!" moments. Will's perspective did shed light on some of his decisions early on. There was also a lot that happened during Slammed from Will's side that Lake (and we) didn't have a clue about! Will and Lake's mother were better acquainted than we thought, for one. I also loved the Will-Caulder-Kel moments we weren't privy to in Slammed!

Revisiting my favourite slams by Lake and Will, especially Schooled and the Lake poem were an added bonus! Learning a little more about what happened in the months between Slammed and Point of Retreat that was merely mentioned in the second part was also great. However, I did not enjoy the parts of the story set in the present, during the honeymoon, as most of their conversations didn't flow naturally. They felt very orchestrated... just to trigger relevant flashbacks in chronological order.

If you love what you've read of the Slammed series, I'm guessing no one can stop you from picking This Girl up! While the parts set in the present, which, except for the very end, made me roll my eyes... most of the flashbacks were fun. Some of the parts that I found cutest in Slammed reduced me to mush all over again (The first date! Carving pumpkins!). Some details made my mouth go slack and by the time we cut to Lake surprising Will with 'Schooled'- I was swooning all over again! This time, WITH Will. There is a lot that happened in Slammed that Lake knew nothing about. I think that ultimately made This Girl more than just a different way of reading Slammed all over again.

Rating: ★★★1/2

Friday, 26 July 2013

Novel Publicity Whirlwind Tour stop; Review: Along the Watchtower by David Litwack

Publication date: June 3rd, 2013
Publisher: Double Dragon Publishing
Stars: 3.5/5
Source: Review copy (as a part of the blog tour)
A Tragic Warrior Lost in Two Worlds…

The war in Iraq ended for Lieutenant Freddie Williams when an IED explosion left his mind and body shattered. Once he was a skilled gamer and expert in virtual warfare. Now he’s a broken warrior, emerging from a medically induced coma to discover he’s inhabiting two separate realities. The first is his waking world of pain, family trials, and remorse—and slow rehabilitation through the tender care of Becky, his physical therapist. The second is a dark fantasy realm of quests, demons, and magic that Freddie enters when he sleeps.

In his dreams he is Frederick, Prince of Stormwind, who must make sense of his horrific visions in order to save his embattled kingdom from the monstrous Horde. His only solace awaits him in the royal gardens, where the gentle words of the beautiful gardener, Rebecca, calm the storms in his soul. While in the conscious world, the severely wounded vet faces a strangely similar and equally perilous mission—a journey along a dark road haunted by demons of guilt and memory—and letting patient, loving Becky into his damaged and shuttered heart may be his only way back from Hell.


An IED explosion leaves a shattered Lieutenant and skilled gamer with two alternate realities: one filled with pain, attempts at half-hearted recuperation, reality hitting him in flashbacks and present tense… and the other -manifested in his dreams- a surge of quests, trials and tangible obstacles leading to the him being crowned King.

What unites these two realities?

o The fact that they are happening to the same person: the Lieutenant, who took his job seriously, took the losses suffered from war hard and used to play World of Warcraft with his army buddies.

o The compassionate woman reaching out to them: Becky/Rebecca who gives the protagonist/hero hope/latent hope.

o Fragments of memories/clues; an aftermath of the war that help them make sense of all he has lost and question all that is left.

Along the Watchtower was unlike anything I have ever read… it was surreal, sometimes baffling and most times brilliant. The realistic/fantastical narratives ran parallel to each other with brilliant points of overlap and chronicled the effects of war, the parables of loss and the comforting and magical nature of social support. It illustrated the horrors of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and curious ways employed by the mind and heart to heal.

I’m not going to lie… it took me a while to gain sure footing as I journeyed through the book… I felt like we were thrust into two completely different floors of the Lieutenant’s mind at the same time and it took me a while to comprehend it all. But once I did, I was fascinated by the parallels in characterization, the contrasting feel of the well-written narratives and the Lieutenant/Dauphin’s slow progress through the trials before him.

When the Lieutenant’s reality tore me apart, there was always the magic and cheeriness of his dream-(albeit dark) quest that rearranged his abstract worries and painful memories. Over the course of the book, you will learn to fear and embrace the assassin, make sense of the layers of memory and despair that plague the Lieutenant as he reconstructs the events before his injury and feel the warmth that comes from reading a good book that arrives that a satisfactory ending… in this case, endings as both the recuperation from the war effort and bridging of familial loss, unconscious advancing of trials and braving through the medieval quest are done justice to.

Rating: ★★★1/2

Watchtower Tour BadgeAs part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, both Along the Watchtower and There Comes a Prophet by David Litwack are on sale this week. What’s more, by purchasing either or both of these fantastic books at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include a Kindle Fire, $650 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of each book. All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment--easy to enter; easy to win! To win the prizes:
  1. Pick up Along the Watchtower at its discounted price of $2.99 on Amazon
  2. Get There Comes a Prophet at its discounted price of 99 cents
  3. Enter the Rafflecopter contest below
  4. Visit the featured social media events
  5. Leave a comment on my blog for a chance at a $100 prize.
Along the Watchtower tells of a tragic warrior lost in two worlds; a woman who may be his only way back from Hell. Get it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or iTunes. There Comes a Prophet A thousand years ago the Darkness came—a time of violence and social collapse. Nathaniel has grown up in their world of limits, longing for something more. For what are we without dreams? Get it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or iTunes.

David Litwack, the once and future writer, explores the blurry line between reality and the fantastic.  Visit David on his website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Novel Publicity Whirlwind Tour: Interview with David Litwack (courtesy Novel Publicity)

Please enjoy this interview with David Litwack, author of the gripping contemporary novel, Along the Watchtower, and the deep, dark dystopia, There Comes a Prophet. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including a Kindle Fire, $650 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of each book.

  1. Novel Publicity: Along the Watchtower is a powerful blend of contemporary fiction and fantasy that demands the reader's attention from start to finish. What was your inspiration for writing this work, and for combining World of Warcraft with a casualty of war and a dream world?

I’ve always been fascinated by how we perceive reality. Think of the film Rashomon, the classic exploration of multiple realities, where several witnesses to a crime describe events completely differently, each bringing their own life experience and biases into play. But it’s when we’re ripped from our normal life and placed in extreme circumstances that our reality becomes totally fragmented. Such is the case with hospitals and war. At the same time, I’d become engrossed in playing the online fantasy game, World of Warcraft, with my son, an avid player. With me on the east coast and him on the west, he suggested we meet weekly in the fantasy world of Azeroth—an invitation I could hardly resist. For several months, we had a Wednesday evening appointment, where our avatars would meet in this virtual world and go on quests together. I was struck by how totally immersed I could get in the game, how quickly time passed, and the surreal mood of wandering around in castles and crypts, solving riddles and following quests. The fantasy gaming experience has a dream-like quality to it. And I began to wonder: how would this experience affect the dreams of someone whose reality has been fragmented by war, PTSD, and traumatic brain injury. These concepts—war, hospitals, and the fantasy world of online gaming—came together in Along the Watchtower.

  2. Without giving away too much, can you introduce us to the main character Lieutenant Freddie, and tell us how he's similar and different in both worlds he inhabits?

 When Freddie comes out of his medically-induced coma in the VA hospital, he’s nearly given up hope. Everything he had to live for was gone, and he was racked with bad memories and guilt, in addition to his physical injuries. Prince Frederick doesn’t have the luxury of giving up. If he yields to despair, the kingdom that depends on him will fall into darkness. Because of this, he’s more willing to struggle through his trials. It’s through the prince in the fantasy world that Freddie is finally able to confront and overcome his personal demons in the real world.

  3. Your first novel, There Comes a Prophet, explores the roots of the dystopian fiction category while also reinventing it for a younger generation of readers. This genre boasts many great classics including Slaughterhouse V, 1984, and Brave New World to name a few. What are your favorite classic books?

Dystopia literally means dysfunctional utopia, not necessarily an evil, power-hungry regime oppressing its people, but a well-intentioned system that has lost its way, resulting in a world gone awry. My favorite such dystopian is Arthur C. Clarke’s The City and the Stars. In this near perfect world, there’s no disease, hunger or poverty, and people are effectively immortal. But all are afraid to venture outside the walls of their city or even look beyond them. The thought of the open expanse of stars in the night sky terrifies them. All of this had been put in place to protect them from some past too horrible to mention. Yet the unfulfilled aspirations of a single individual drive him to discover the lost truth and let humanity move forward again. Lois Lowry’s The Giver is another great example. In a simple but beautiful writing style, she tells the story of a seemingly perfect world where bad memories have been abolished, except for one person, the keeper of memories. But the people are left unable to feel anything much—good or bad.

  4. People read books for many different reasons. Of all the different reasons you've seen in reviews, can you relate one story that really stood out for you about a reader's experience?

 One reviewer read Along the Watchtower and it brought back memories of being a young college student, witnessing the twin towers fall on 9/11. The book touched him deeply, because it reminded him that, as a result of that tragic event, we’ve been at war his entire adult life. The shock he felt on 9/11 all came back to him in reading the struggles of the recovering Lt. Freddie Williams. Interestingly enough, that same reviewer had a powerful reaction to the dystopian world of There Comes a Prophet. In that book, a ruling power limits learning and growth. This reviewer associated my story with the courageous young Malala Yousafzai, the Pakastani girl who the Taliban tried to kill for advocating education for women.

  5. Along the Watchtower features a veteran's healing process on the physical, emotional, and intellectual levels. What role do you think fantasy role-playing games and dreaming can play in a healing process?

 When we’re confronted with trauma too terrible to comprehend, our mind sometimes shuts the experience out to let us heal. But the memory still lingers in our subconscious. Sometimes it’s easier to confront those feelings through fantasy, like dreams or video games, rather than facing them head on in the cruel light of reality. Then once confronted, we’re better able to move on.

  6. Symbolism and description play a huge role in the opening chapters of Along the Watchtower. As the lines between reality and fantasy become more and more blurry, did you find it difficult to remember which 'character' you were talking as?

 Freddie and Prince Frederick were undergoing the same trials at an emotional level, even though their circumstances differed. The hardest part in writing the two was to maintain a distinct voice for each—for Freddie the gritty language of the VA hospital and for Prince Frederick, more of a high fantasy tone. This difference was important to make each world believable. But since the book was written in a first person point of view, it was also critical to quickly alert the reader whenever there was a switch in worlds.

  7. Ocean imagery features prominently in your book Along the Watchtower. What's your favorite place to visit, and what scenery do you find most inspiring as an author?

I almost hate to mention this because it’s such a well-kept secret. But my favorite spot is a place called The Knob in my home town of Falmouth. It’s a raised spit of land rising up dramatically into the harbor onto a domed rock, reachable only after a half-mile walk through the woods. I’ve actually used it as a setting in my upcoming novel, The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky.

  8. You run a very active blog and website, though the demands of marketing yourself can be overwhelming for many authors. How do you find balance in your life, and time to enjoy your surroundings in a highly technical world? Coming from a software background, I'm sure you might have unique insights on balancing the 'real' world with the technical one.

 I’ve spent most of my adult life in front of a computer, first as a software engineer and now as an author. The key is to take advantage of non-computer time to get out and enjoy yourself. But all writers want to be read, so you have to spend time reaching out to readers. The software equivalent was that I used to enjoy taking a break from developing software to visit customers and see how they were using what I’d developed.

  9. You've published two books, Along the Watchtower and There Comes a Prophet. Is there anything you'd like to share with readers and your future writing plans?

 I’m in late stage edits with an alternate world story called The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky. It’s about a world divided between the Blessed Lands, a place of the spirit, and the Republic, whose people worship at the altar of reason. A mysterious nine-year-old girl from the Blessed Lands sails into the lives of a troubled couple in the Republic and seems to heal everyone she meets. She reveals nothing about herself, other than to say she’s the daughter of the sea and the sky. But she harbors a secret wound she herself cannot heal. I’m also currently planning what will be a sequel to There Comes a Prophet. I’ve always wondered what happened to Orah and Nathaniel after their world changing heroics and what became of the contemporaries of the keepmasters who had crossed the ocean. Stay tuned.

  10. What do you like to do to unwind? You know, in those rare moments when you're not writing!

Since writing and social networking are indoor activities, I try to get outside as often as possible. I go for long walks on the seashore, play some golf, bicycle, and generally try to stay active. I’m fortunate to be able to split my time between Cape Cod and Florida, both beautiful places in their respective nice seasons.

Watchtower Tour Badge  As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, both Along the Watchtower and There Comes a Prophet by David Litwack are on sale this week. What’s more, by purchasing either or both of these fantastic books at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include a Kindle Fire, $650 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of each book. All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment--easy to enter; easy to win! To win the prizes:
  1. Pick up Along the Watchtower at its discounted price of $2.99 on Amazon
  2. Get There Comes a Prophet at its discounted price of 99 cents
  3. Enter the Rafflecopter contest below
  4. Visit the featured social media events
  5. Leave a comment on my blog for a chance at a $100 prize.
Along the Watchtower tells of a tragic warrior lost in two worlds; a woman who may be his only way back from Hell. Get it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or iTunes. There Comes a Prophet A thousand years ago the Darkness came—a time of violence and social collapse. Nathaniel has grown up in their world of limits, longing for something more. For what are we without dreams? Get it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or iTunes.

David Litwack, the once and future writer, explores the blurry line between reality and the fantastic. Visit David on his website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Review: A Really Awesome Mess by Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin

Publication date: July 23rd, 2013
Publisher: Egmont USA
Stars: 3/5
Source: NetGalley
A hint of Recovery Road, a sample of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, and a cut of Juno. A Really Awesome Mess is a laugh-out-loud, gut-wrenching/heart-warming story of two teenagers struggling to find love and themselves.

Two teenagers. Two very bumpy roads taken that lead to Heartland Academy.

Justin was just having fun, but when his dad walked in on him with a girl in a very compromising position, Justin's summer took a quick turn for the worse. His parents' divorce put Justin on rocky mental ground, and after a handful of Tylenol lands him in the hospital, he has really hit rock bottom.

Emmy never felt like part of her family. She was adopted from China. Her parents and sister tower over her and look like they came out of a Ralph Lauren catalog-- and Emmy definitely doesn't. After a scandalous photo of Emmy leads to vicious rumors around school, she threatens the boy who started it all on Facebook.

Justin and Emmy arrive at Heartland Academy, a reform school that will force them to deal with their issues, damaged souls with little patience for authority. But along the way they will find a ragtag group of teens who are just as broken, stubborn, and full of sarcasm as themselves. In the end, they might even call each other friends.

A funny, sad, and remarkable story, A Really Awesome Mess is a journey of friendship and self-discovery that teen readers will surely sign up for.


It was the sunny yellow cover that made me request A Really Awesome Mess on NetGalley. It was the wacky characters thrown into a reform school of sorts, Heartland Academy (later jokingly rechristened Assland) that ultimately made me warm up to the book.

I started reading the book nearly a month ago during a 9AM-5PM power cut and finished it on the same day. Yet, somehow, I kept putting off reviewing it... very unlike times when I'm absolutely brimming with things to say about a book that I have to review it immediately. I guess this was partly because while A Really Awesome Mess wasn't unremarkable or terrible, it wasn't very memorable either. It was one of those books that was just okay. 

I liked the protagonist, Emmy, well enough. She was struggling with a lot of issues that might have stayed buried if it weren't for her backlash to an incident in her school that got her suspended. It lands her in Heartland Academy, where she meets the kids in her Anger Management therapy group; most of whom are as much in denial about why they were sent to Heartland. There's Justin, still coming to terms with his parent's divorce and caught in a compromising position by his father, "psycho" Diana, pig-loving Jenny who refuses to speak, a compulsive liar and others who band together with a goal to make their stay in Heartland as far from resembling hell as possible.

In the course of the book, there's moments of hilarity, surprising intensity complete with occasional pangs and flutters. The characters were diverse as far as personalities and backgrounds go and the bonds forged felt unpretentious; which I think is what I appreciated most about the book. The therapeutic process was realistic and even gut wrenching with insights that did not feel cliched or formulaic. There is a rather unrealistic pig subplot thrown in which a lot of readers felt was too much... but since I was in the mood to suspend disbelief, I enjoyed it! It was cute, a little over the top and yet was pretty essential to tie some of the loose plot-ends together.

All in all, A Really Awesome Mess was pretty darn awesome. I would compare it to a part-entertaining and part-insightful TV Movie that would go great with a bowl of butter popcorn and unfinished homework! I'd watch parts of it if it came on TV again but wouldn't really go out of my way to purchase it. Definitely a borrow-not-buy, this one.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Monday, 8 July 2013

Review: The Homing Pigeons by Sid Bahri

Publication date: April 10th, 2013
Publisher: Srishti Publishers and Distributors
Stars: 4/5
Source: Review copy (courtesy the Readers Cosmos Book Review Program!)
In the middle of the catastrophic 2008 recession, Aditya, a jobless, penniless man meets an attractive stranger in a bar, little does he know that his life will change forever…

When Radhika, a young, rich widow, marries off her stepdaughter, little does she know that the freedom that she has yearned for is not exactly how she had envisioned it…

They say Homing Pigeons always come back to their mate, no matter where you leave them on the face of this earth. Homing Pigeons is the story of love between these two unsuspecting characters as it is of lust, greed, separations, prejudices and crumbling spines.


The Homing Pigeons had a lot working for it; right from the beginning. The title, for one, felt 'comfortable' and left behind a beautiful image of what the book could be about. The blurb was enticing, further evoking the idea of two unsuspecting lovers who were meant to be, come what may.

And when I started reading the book, I was hooked, as the writing was so so beautiful. I was reading it at the same time as Fahima from I Read, Ergo I Write (which was a lot of fun! We've never done this before!) and we couldn't stop texting each other about it!!

At its core, The Homing Pigeons is a love story that grows along with the central characters; disentangling itself from obstacles and severing cuts and bruises formed out of momentary foolishness, crumbling backbones and harsh circumstances. But reducing The Homing Pigeons to simply "a love story" does not do it justice. In fact, I felt the love story was the weakest part of the plot- though it was definitely essential to carry the book forward. 

What truly sets this book apart is that it is set in 2008, during the recession and it is relentless in showing the depths to which one can sink to during this time and how significant both money and love are, despite wishful thoughts that only the latter matters. The protagonists, Radhika and Aditya, are figuratively and even literally at times reduced to commodities, cheapened when the supply is high or when demand and supply don't quite meet. Their paths skirt around each other, crisscross briefly before they skittle away until they finally intersect and reach the point of no return.

More than anything, it was the writing that drew me in. The writing morphed the characters into so much more, with both Aditya and Radhika's alternating points of view and the back story revealed in bits and pieces. Despite their imperfections and the endless melodramatic circles they ran in, it was impossible to dislike the main characters as they were so resilient. They braved through obstacles that felt real rather than manufactured or blown out of proportion. 

I loved how artfully the back story was unraveled, surprising you most of the time as connections you never saw coming are slowly revealed to you and it all clicks in the end. There are so many lines you want to hold on to, that make you want to pause and reflect and quote over and over again! ❤

"The pain lingered on, of not being able to garner the courage to express what I felt for her. I felt the agony of never being able to dance with her to the tunes of old English songs. I felt anguished that even if I met her later in life, I wouldn't be seventeen."

The last line, I felt, captured so much!

Another line that left me feeling as hollow and torn as Radhika:

"I stayed there, locked inside, sweating, unsure of who I was hiding from."

The Homing Pigeons is a book that definitely does not hold back with parts that may shock you, make you feel as broken as the characters and have you enraptured till you hit the final page. It is the most engaging Indian contemporary novel I've read so far and I was happy to hear that there will be a sequel. I haven't revealed much of the plot in my review but I can assure you that it is a wonderfully written edgy, sort-of controversial and thoughtful book that stands out (in the best way) from the handful of contemporary Indian books I've read!

This book review is a part of The Readers Cosmos Book Review Program. To get free books log on to

Rating: ★★★★☆

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Sunday Post #7

The Sunday Post is a meme hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer!
~ Inspired by the meme In My Mailbox.~
It's a chance to share news.
A post to recap the past week,
showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up for the week on our blog.

I haven't posted much in the past week. I just started my Masters course in Psychology, so this week went by before I knew it. I have been wanting to do a Sunday Post for a while though!

the haul


I won a signed hardback of Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead this week, thanks to the amazingtastic giveaway at The Readers Den! I LOVE Jasprit and Rachel's blog and it was so great to win GotG which I've been wanting to read since I don't know when xD Rachel also sent me a really cute postcard along with it (yay!):

I've started reading Gameboard and while it's taking me a while to figure out the intricacies of the world of GotG, I get the feeling that I'll  be racing through the pages soon! Thanks guys! ❤

Also, courtesy St. Martin's Press and the Readers Cosmos Review Program, I received:

The Prey was one heck of an adrenaline rush... even better than The Hunt, in many ways! I also finished reading The Homing Pigeons this week and my review will be up soon!


I bought this one on an impulse... on discovering it through a Facebook ad! It was around 0.95$ and sounded like the perfect guilty pleasure at that moment!

recent posts you may have missed!

And I'm finally on Bloglovin', now that Google Reader is no longer in the picture!

Follow on Bloglovin

That's all for this week. Hope you had a great weekend!