Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Tell Me Something Tuesday: REVIEWS

a weekly meme hosted by Rainy Day Ramblings!

This week's question, a part of the So You Want to be a Blogger edition:
What are your tips for writing reviews?

Since I'm still perfecting the content/style/everything of my reviews (I guess it's an ongoing process), I'm going to take the perspective of a reader rather than that of a book blogger. There are some reviews that I find more helpful than others and those are usually the ones that cause a tiny prod; either towards or away from the book! A good review, for me, is, to some extent:

Reader-friendly. Rational. I'm all for subjectivity but only when the whys are laid to rest. Why were they not comfortable with the writing style? Why did they not like the ending? Why did that secondary character not resonate with them? 

Also, when it comes to negative reviews, I prefer the ones that clearly state why the book was not for them. All of us have different preferences, so when the reviewer takes time out to say why he/she in particular could've been put off by the book, biases and preferences withstanding, I find it easier to match my preferences with theirs and take a call on whether the negatives are something I would care about! These reviews go out of the way to be helpful and I appreciate that!

Energetic! I love it when I sense an energy and urgency in the review to tell you everything (that's spoiler-free) about the book. It need not be endless gushing or a GIF-plastered rant. Just... not monotonous, you know? Reviews feel like art when they contain the angst/enthusiasm/nervousness/cringiness/deadpanness- everything they felt or made sense of while reading the book- in a way that is contagious! 

Venom-free. Personally attacking an author or being scathing without any real basis is my one and only turn off.

Insightful; as additional insights always help. It's one of the reasons why I'm eager to look out for reviews of books I've already read as well- to see if they've come away with the same things that I have after reading the book! 

Easy to read. It could be with regard to the format of the review or the ease with which the reviewer moves from one aspect of the book to the next. I'm not going to wade through one giant clump of a paragraph... I prefer ones that are better laid out and easy on the eyes.

Wordily genuine. Nothing beats a genuine-sounding non-glossed-over review. I'm always on the look out for those!

Succinct, because as I said before, I am not going to wade through 10+ chunky paragraphs. As much as I don't want too much of the review to be a synopsis of the book, I do like a one or two line summary that gives context to the review (in case I don't read the Goodreads blurb). While I personally find it very hard to be concise and keep cutting out the "excess chunks" of rambling, I do love clear and crisp reviews that practically hit the bulls eye in what I'm looking for as a reader!

Of course, these are all of the things I tend to prefer in a review. Sometimes ranking high on one or two of these aspects alone is enough to make the review helpful and relevant and crazyhilariousandawesome!

Preferences definitely vary since we're all on the lookout for different things! What do you look for in reviews? Or what do you give importance to when you write them?

Sunday, 23 June 2013

YA Bound Book Blitz: Triangles by Kimberly Ann Miller

by Kimberly Ann Miller
Release Date: 06/18/13
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press

A cruise ship. A beautiful island. Two sexy guys. What could possibly go wrong?

In the Bermuda Triangle—a lot.

Hoping to leave behind the reminders of her crappy life--her father's death years ago, her mother's medical problems, and the loser who’s practically stalking her--seventeen-year-old Autumn Taylor hops on a ship with her sister for a little distraction. When she wakes up in the Bermuda Triangle, she fears she's gone nuts for more than one reason: that loser’s suddenly claiming they're a happy couple... a hot guy is wrapping his arms around her and saying "Happy Anniversary"... and suddenly, she’s full of bruises, losing her hair, and getting IV medication. Autumn visits the ship's doctor, hoping for a pill or a shot to make the craziness go away. Instead, she's warned that these "alternate realities" could become permanent.

She just has to ask herself one question—how the hell is she going to get out of this mess? [goodreads]
 photo addtogoodreadssmall_zpsa2a6cf28.png  photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg  photo 111AD205-AA04-4F9E-A0F4-C1264C4E9F30-1855-000001A1E8CEB6D7_zps9b730b94.jpg  photo B1426D4C-9EEC-4C0B-A1FB-90524B03C0CA-1855-000001A1E82B3B3E_zps17d98f4d.jpg


“Are you all right, honey?”

I opened my eyes. An attractive young woman with red hair and brilliant
green eyes was looking at me. What I thought was salt water from the
ocean must have been tears because my face was the only one nearby that
was wet. I glanced at her concerned expression and smiled. “Yes, thank
you. I’m fine.” I swiped away a tear with my finger. “Just…everything’s

She stepped closer and lowered her voice. “This cruise will change
your life. Nothing will be the same when it’s over, but it will be worth it.
You’ll see.” Her emerald eyes twinkled, and she nodded her head once.

I forced a laugh to be polite. “Thanks. Enjoy your cruise.”

What a weirdo. What did that even mean? How could a cruise change
my life? I moved from my spot to avoid more weirdness from her and
found a less populated area at the back of the ship. New York and New
Jersey disappeared behind us as we charged toward Bermuda and away
from the mess my life had become.

A cloud covered the retreating sun, sending shivers through me. A
white-haired lady dropped her purse and lots of change tumbled out. A
penny hit my foot and landed on tails.

My cell phone buzzed. I pulled it from my pocket. I had thirteen
messages and thirteen texts. How would Nisha survive the next five days
without hearing from me? I took care of the messages and told her I’d call
her when we got back to Jersey.

Even though I was not very superstitious, a bad feeling crawled into
the pit of my stomach and took up residence.

I knew what I was leaving behind, but what was I floating toward?

Kimberly Miller received Bachelors degrees from Georgian Court University and Rutgers University and a Master's degree from The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. She is an avid reader and particularly enjoys true crime and young adult novels. She grew up in New Jersey and currently resides in Monmouth County with her husband and three cats. When she’s not writing, she loves to travel to sunny islands where she snorkels by day and stargazes by night. She always takes her Nook with her. 



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Saturday, 22 June 2013

Summer Readin' Pick #2: How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True by Sarah Strohmeyer

where I feature my favourite summer reads!
© On Books!
Publication date: 23rd April 2013
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Links: Amazon, Goodreads
Source: Bought
Stars: 4/5
My first pick for the summer was Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. It's time to feature my second pick: How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True by Sarah Strohmeyer!

I wouldn't have pounced on this book and finished it in a day if it weren't for Elena @ Novel Sounds whose review made me psyched to read the book! Reasons why it's the perfect summer read:
  •  It's set in Fairyland Kingdom, a Disney Land of sorts, where Zoe and her cousin Jess are interning for the summer! Since it's a theme park, the interns get assigned to don the roles of various fairy tale characters.
  •  involves the "Queen", the boss from HELL whom the protagonist, Zoe is assigned to serve. Oh yes, it's part Devil Wears Prada.
  •  also has the employees competing against each other for the Dream & Do Grant... a grant that Zoe's cousin, Jess, desperately needs if she has any hopes of going to a good college; given her family's financial situation. The cutthroat competition adds an ultra fun element to the plot and there's also a twist in the end that I felt was very Willy Wonka!
Why wouldn't you want to spend your summer reliving the juicy behind-the-scene exploits of the interns in Fairyland Kingdom? Especially since it involves a rogue Prince whom Zoe runs into in a Forbidden Territory (who leaves a swathe of cloth behind), the Queen aka The Boss From Hell demanding answers, a runaway Cinderella and a really hot Puss 'n Boots! There's also touching, almost fairytale-esque backstory and an ending that left me teary eyed and satisfied!

I could see how Zoe got attached to Fairyland despite its annoying rules like a ban on TV watching. I got attached to Fairyland Kingdom just by reading about it. It seemed like a great place to spend the summer... even with the quirky rules and the Queen's tyranny. Zoe was someone I instantly warmed up to and I loved watching her have her cousin Jess's back, put the pieces of the mini-Fairytale mystery together and uncover the identity of her rogue Prince Charming. 

Strohmeyer's writing is incredibly wholesome and fully brings the characters of this story alive! I loved that most of the times, the interns had the additional pseudo identity of the characters they played in Fairyland... it made the story even more intensely amusing and appealed to my love for fairy tales! This is an incredibly cutesy, light and charming book with lovable characters and a lot of heart. Despite the manipulativeness and bitchiness amongst interns that would be a part of any competitive setting I also loved that there was a good deal of selflessness, loyalty, love, truly genuine friendships and a deserved Happily Ever After!

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Review: Once Upon the Tracks of Mumbai by Rishi Vohra

Publication year: 2012
Publisher: Jaico Books
Stars: 3/5
Source: Review copy
"Autistic. Schizophrenic. Psychotic…"

"They" use these words to describe Babloo - the doctors, his family, his teachers everyone... except Vandana. She treats him the way he wants the world to see him.

Mumbai... the city that defines his ultimate desires. Will it allow him the love and normalcy he so craves?

Vandana... yearns for a soul mate to rescue her from the confines of the Railway Colony they all live in. Is she looking in the right place?

Rail Man... a fearless, real-life hero who succeeds in doing all that Babloo secretly wishes to do... is Babloo his inspiration or... is it the other way around?

A random twist of fate on Mumbai’s endless, serpent-like, jangling local train tracks ties all these characters together in a complex weave of love, heartbreak, and courage.

Babloo draws the reader into his fascinating, heart-rending journey through the twisted, choked lanes of Mumbai, into an open space where he can finally exhale, be born again.

Once upon the tracks of Mumbai lived Babloo, who was highly neglected by his family. He was quick to be branded "mentally unstable" at various points of the story with no proper diagnosis or attention to treatment. Seen as "jobless" "disruptive", ignored, belittled, he was confined to his life by noisy Bandra station; a life by the railway tracks that came to signify so much more. Babloo is often in another world, craves routine, is devoted to his neighbour Vandana who is always nice to him and deeply disturbed by the injustice and ruthlessness that prevails in his surroundings, giving rise to a superhero flick, love story and a social message all rolled into one!

On the surface, especially from a glimpse at the cover, the plot of Once Upon the Tracks of Mumbai by Rishi Vohra seems very filmy and in a way, it kind of is. There's a clear good versus evil divide, particularly in the beginning and as referenced in the book itself, much like a masala film, our hero Babloo manages to wade past the countless obstacles and "good" is rewarded! There is the clear cut villain in the book in the form of Sikander who is a schemer, manipulator and never up to any good. But there's also the evil that arises from the roots of corruption and negligence of duty. And the person to go head to head with this is none other than Rail Man- a superhero that gets the entire city of Mumbai talking! No points for guessing who the face behind the mask black paint is!

What I liked most about this book was that even with the filmy elements, it ultimately held its own. I loved the way both of storylines, the struggles of Babloo and Rail Man, ran parallel to each other and ultimately became one. While it took me a while to get into the book... especially in the beginning which felt mournful and painted a pathetic, sad picture of things as they were, I grew to love the flow of the narrative as it picked up pace. While told in the first person perspective of Babloo, there are also third person perspectives of the other characters to shed full light on the events that unfold over the course of the book.

The love story, thankfully, is no cliched affair either! Vandana, though affected by expectations from all over to be the coy heroine, is far from demure. She has aspirations of her own and while initially trapped by circumstances and societal expectations for her to settle down, she learns to stand up for herself and get what she wants. She's independent and even shapes up to be a little bossy with her take-charge attitude which I loved! While I flinched a lot in the beginning at the limiting picture of the city that was painted, it was great that as the story unfolded, we did get the fuller picture. We see the shades of gray as the characters live beyond the "climax" and their fates aren't entirely in black and white.

Overall, I definitely think Once Upon the Tracks of Mumbai is one of the contemporary Indian reads I liked despite the slow beginning. With well fleshed out characters, a thought provoking narrative and a unique mix of "reel" and real, it's definitely a story that's worth your while.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Friday, 14 June 2013

Spine Poetry! (Feature and Follow Friday #12)

Feature and Follow is a weekly blog hop hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read!

Q: Activity: Spine Poetry. Create a line of poetry with your book spines (take a picture). Not feeling creative? Tell us about your favorite poem.

I love this week's question. Not sure if my spine poem qualifies but I had a great time piling up books to come up with one that left me thinking a bit :)

She's Come Undone
Love story forgotten
The lover's dictionary
catching fire-
the splendour falls.
She's come undone.


While I'm on GFC, Linky and can be followed by email, I'd prefer it if you could follow me on Facebook (Facebook Page) since my Page is brand new ;)

Monday, 10 June 2013

ARC Review: Twerp by Mark Goldblatt

Publication date: 28th May, 2013
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Stars: 3.5/5
Source: NetGalley
It's not like I meant for Danley to get hurt. . . 

Julian Twerski isn't a bully. He's just made a big mistake. So when he returns to school after a weeklong suspension, his English teacher offers him a deal: if he keeps a journal and writes about the terrible incident that got him and his friends suspended, he can get out of writing a report on Shakespeare. Julian jumps at the chance. And so begins his account of life in sixth grade--blowing up homemade fireworks, writing a love letter for his best friend (with disastrous results), and worrying whether he's still the fastest kid in school. Lurking in the background, though, is the one story he can't bring himself to tell, the one story his teacher most wants to hear.

Inspired by Mark Goldblatt's own childhood growing up in 1960s Queens, Twerp shines with humor and heart. This remarkably powerful story will have readers laughing and crying right along with these flawed but unforgettable characters.


I was excited to read Twerp because of a review that compared it to Wonder by RJ Palacio which was one of my favourite books of 2012! Julian "Twerp" Tverski is a sixth grader who, along with his friends, was caught throwing eggs on a kid called Danley Dimmel. When Julian is assigned to write a journal which includes a report of the incident by his English teacher, he starts writing because it also gets him out of a Shakespeare report. Soon enough, it almost becomes a regular journal as Julian finds it to be helpful in making sense of his friends, misunderstandings involving love letters, a running competition that might squander his self esteem and more.

I hate to compare one book with another but while reading Twerp, I kept thinking that it lacked the certain something that made my favourite Middle Grade reads extremely endearing and poignant. It wasn't that Twerp didn't strike a chord, it's just that overall, it didn't impact me as much.

It wasn't that the book was completely lacking. The main character, Julian, was wonderfully fleshed out. I felt like we got to know Julian as how he saw himself and of course through his conversations with other people, particularly his sister, we got to see things he didn't see as well. Julian is a smart and well-meaning kid who gets carried away sometimes when he's with his friends- particularly his best friend Lonnie, who can be pretty manipulative.

I found the first chapter pretty hard to get into. It definitely helped set the stage but somehow, it just wasn't shaping up to be my kind of read. I'm not sure why this was; maybe because I was unable to relate to the exploits of an eleven year old boy? It might have just been a subjective thing. However, as I read on, I found myself sucked into Julian's life as he opens up about his fears, his hopes and moments of self doubt. I loved that it was set in the sixties...the subplots were age-relevant and the way they were dealt with was enjoyable.
Julian's a pretty standard kid who makes mistakes, does things he isn't proud of, gets taken advantage of at times but faces up to it when the consequences tear him apart.

This book asked the right questions, never took the easy way out when it came to depiction of issues like bullying and innocence and I applaud the author for that! Overall, Twerp was a rewarding and accurately portrayed coming of age story that is sure to have more of an impact on younger readers.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5/5) 

Sunday, 9 June 2013

AToMR blog tour stop: Nearly Broken by Devon Ashley

I'm featuring Nearly Broken by Devon Ashley on my blog today as a part of the Nearly Broken blog tour organised by AToMR tours! Scroll down to read an excerpt from what looks like a pretty heartwrenching and intense addition to the New Adult genre. :)

Pub date: 4th June, 2013
We’d both gone missing at one point, but Claire had one thing I didn’t. Someone to notice. So why was I the one still here and she the one still gone?

Nineteen year old Megan Smith has spent the past year working in a small town diner in the middle of nowhere. Life is quiet, simple, safe. Then comes the news that her look-a-like has gone missing.


Still damaged both physically and mentally, Megan's not looking to be noticed. Wherever she goes from here, it's a road she needs to take alone. But when Nickolas Ellis takes the job as the new nightshift cook, it scares her how easily her defenses crumble down, down, down for him. But there are secrets she can't bear to share with just anyone, unspeakable acts that continue to haunt, and when the similarities of Claire’s abduction couples with the fear of an unwanted visitor in town, the urge to run before it all happens again intensifies, threatening the only happiness Megan's ever found.

New Adult; Romantic Suspense/ Realistic Fiction
Recommended for 17+ for mature and disturbing situations, language and sexual content.


      I thought I’d have enough time to shower and make it back to the safety of my room before he got back. No such luck. I gathered my dirty clothes and froze two steps into the living room, nothing but a towel wrapped around my body. I frantically debated whether to make a run for the bedroom or retreat to the bathroom.

      Sitting on the sofa reading a paper he must’ve picked up, his torso turned my way. I gasped, my heart suddenly putting in double the effort. His lips parted, and all expression fell from his face as he honed in on the last place I wanted him to look. My damaged skin was a stark contrast to the creamy beige complexion of my healthy skin. I hated the look of disgust most people gave when they caught sight of it, or the pity the others gave.

      I didn’t wait to see which was going to appear on him.

      Making a mad-dash for the bedroom, I roughly slid the doors closed behind me. Backing up, I sat on the edge of the bed, releasing a few silent tears, hating the splotchy spots randomly splashed across my arms, chest and abdomen, even getting part of my left breast. My right forearm got burned the worst. It was the spot I always covered first, to protect its deformity at all costs. That spot reminded me of a topographic world ball, similar to the raised peaks that marked the mountains and ridges, though mine were more subtle. At least I hoped they were, because my mind could sometimes be cruel with its interpretation.

      One year, five months, sixteen days since I singed my lungs, my skin melting before my eyes.

      But what I hated most about my burns was the constant reminder of why I had them. Of what I’d done.

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I’m a mom, wife, a lover and a fighter, coffee addict, wicked knitster, Microbiologist, baker of fine yummy treats, and someone who will fight you to death for that last twinkie bag of M&Ms during the zombie-apocalypse. Seriously, my addiction is that important to me. Oh yeah, and writing is cool too! Blog, Goodreads, Facebook

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Summer Readin' Pick #1: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

© On Books!
The best way to beat the heat: curling up with a laid back summer read! My picks for the summer are usually cutesy and a little predictable but this year I also got to catch up with some really wholesome and entertaining books that have been in my to-read list since forever! I figured I'd do a separate post for each of the books I loved reading this summer and that's where my new feature, Summer Readin'! comes in.

Publication date: 14th April 2011
Publisher: Dutton Adult
Stars: 5/5
Source: Bought
My first pick: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell which I read after Eleanor & Park by the same author. Given that Attachments is centered around a whole different demographic and had the whole rom-com movie vibe, it couldn't be more different from Eleanor & Park. I didn't think it would be possible but here's the thing- I loved it even more than E&P

The protagonist, Lincoln, has way too many college degrees but hasn't really gotten anywhere with it. He's still living with his mom, nursing a heartbreak and hasn't a real clue about how to move forward. And what more, he gets a job in a newspaper office where he gets paid to monitor people's work email and in the process, falls for Beth whom he hasn't even seen before. All he knows about her are from the emails he reads that land in his security filter; banter between Beth and her best friend Jennifer that's far from work-related. 

Set when the whole Y2K speculation was happening with the cutest movie and pop culture references, I adored this book. I loved that Beth was a movie reviewer by profession and was someone you'd want to be friends with. I could see why Lincoln was instantly attracted to her- just by reading her email. She's the kind of witty entertaining character with real quirks that's usually the fun sidekick, so I really really liked that she was the girl Lincoln fell for! There's even this part when she says she sounds soo much better on paper than in person and I could totally relate to that!

As for Lincoln, he was a steadfast, solid person I would've rooted for right in the beginning. We were privy of almost every aspect of his world- from his mom who means well but is probably too overprotective, his sister and his Dungeons and Dragons friends. When he wrangled with the ethics and dilemma he faced over reading someone else's email (even if that was his job), it was completely realistic. What I loved most was that we also got to see him through Beth's eyes in her emails! And it's funny how a fresh perspective can really bring out characteristics that you take for granted in someone.

Another thing about the book that had me positively squealing was that it handled the concept of love BEFORE first sight in the most believable and breathtaking way! Even the most unromantic person is bound to be taken in by the heart stopping sweetness of the way they fall for each other. 

Attachments was fresh, funny, smart and incredibly gripping! I adored this book from start to finish. I loved how it was wholesome yet light at the same time and grounded yet swoony! It had the elements that are present in practically every rom-com movie I'm crazy about. And at the end of it, I think that's what Attachments felt like to me: a rom-com with the depth and breadth of a book!