Monday, 3 November 2014

Novel Publicity Blog Tour Stop; Review: Just Girls by Rachel Gold

Publication date: September 23rd, 2014
Publisher: Bella Books
Links: Goodreads | Amazon US | Amazon India
Stars: 4/5
Source: Novel Publicity Blog Tour
Jess Tucker sticks her neck out for a stranger the buzz is someone in the dorm is a trans girl. So Tucker says it s her, even though it s not, to stop the finger pointing. She was an out lesbian in high school, and she figures she can stare down whatever gets thrown her way in college. It can t be that bad. Ella Ramsey is making new friends at Freytag College, playing with on-campus gamers and enjoying her first year, but she s rocked by the sight of a slur painted on someone else s door. A slur clearly meant for her, if they'd only known. New rules, old prejudices, personal courage, private fear. In this stunning follow-up to the groundbreaking Being Emily, Rachel Gold explores the brave, changing landscape where young women try to be Just Girls.


REVIEW


I read Just Girls by Rachel Gold a month ago, and the earnestness with which it dealt with issues of identity, gender and sexual orientation instantly sucked me in.

Just Girls tells us the story of Jess Tucker, who sticks up for a transwoman on campus; she doesn’t know who this woman is, just that it’s someone in the dorm. On encountering a bunch of girls who have already started making ignorant remarks about, speculating about the identity of and judging this girl, Tucker says it’s her (“You have anything to say to my face?”). Being an out-of-the-closet lesbian since high school, she figures she can handle it.

“I know I don’t understand viscerally what it means to have gender dysphoria or to have people always questioning who you are, but I do know what it’s like to have people be assholes to you just because of who you are. And I just got really pissed and really afraid for this girl and so I said it was me. That way they’ll direct their bullshit at me and I know I can take it.” (p. 39)

Meanwhile, Ella Ramsey, realizing what had happened and what Tucker did for her, much before they are even acquainted… is shocked and moved.

What I liked most about Just Girls is that this is by no means where the story begins and ends. Instead, we are introduced to a diverse and wonderfully fleshed out cast of characters. While it would be easy to tag them as “transwoman Ella”, “genderqueer Nico”, “the transphobic Women & Gender Studies Teaching Assistant”, “codependent Lindy”, and so on, there’s much more to them than that. No one is a token member of any community, and their story transcends labels and stereotypes.

Getting to know Ella, who was born a boy but was on hormone blockers to prevent male characteristics from kicking in during puberty, widened my understanding of what it feels like to be born a gender you do not identify yourself as. It was refreshing how her parents were supportive of the transitioning process and embraced her for who she was. As we get to know Ella as Ella – girly, funny, intelligent and loyal-, the premise of the novel felt stronger and its message truly hit home.

The issues tackled, whether thinly veiled sexism, transphobia outside and within the LGBTQIA community, where transgenders factor in same sex restrooms, and more, never feel like too much. We are trained to even pay attention to the voices and views of characters whom the others are eager to dismiss as intolerant and prejudicial; as they, too, come from somewhere and it is essential to get to the root of that somewhere.

Rachel Gold has this amazing ability to integrate feminist theory and debates into the story in a way that feels natural; never feels obscure or out of one’s depth even to beginners. She also does a great job demonstrating that no subculture is free from prejudice, abuse and hatred. At the same time, love, friendship, trust and protection can be garnered from just about anywhere. The foundations of Ella and Tucker’s friendship, and their unconditional acceptance of each other left the deepest impact.

Just Girls was a funny, thoughtful and honest exploration into what it means to be a girl; exclusive of one’s assigned-at-birth gender and heteronormativity.


Rating: ★★★★☆
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About the prizes:

Who doesn't love prizes? You could win one of two $50 Amazon gift cards or an autographed copy of Just Girls! Here's what you need to do...
  1. Enter the Rafflecopter contest
  2. Leave a comment on my blog
That's it! One random commenter during this tour will win the first gift card. Visit more blogs for more chances to win--the full list of participating bloggers can be found HERE. The other two prizes will be given out via Rafflecopter. You can find the contest entry form linked below or on the official Just Girls tour page via Novel Publicity. Good luck!

About the book: 

Jess Tucker sticks her neck out for a stranger—the buzz is someone in the dorm is a trans girl. So Tucker says it’s her, even though it’s not, to stop the finger pointing. She was an out lesbian in high school, and she figures she can stare down whatever gets thrown her way in college. It can’t be that bad.

Ella Ramsey is making new friends at Freytag College, playing with on-campus gamers and enjoying her first year, but she’s rocked by the sight of a slur painted on someone else’s door. A slur clearly meant for her, if they’d only known.

New rules, old prejudices, personal courage, private fear. In this stunning follow-up to the groundbreaking Being Emily, Rachel Gold explores the brave, changing landscape where young women try to be Just Girls.Get Just Girls through Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

About the author: 

An award-winning marketing strategist and author, Rachel Gold also spent a decade as a reporter in the LGBT community where she learned many of her most important lessons about being a woman from the transgender community. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English and Religious Studies from Macalester College, and a Master of Fine Arts in Writing from Hamline University. When she’s not “translating English for English-speaking people” or working on her novels, you can find Rachel online checking out the latest games.

Connect with Rachel on her website, Facebook, Twitter,or GoodReads..

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins (Anna and the French Kiss, #3)

Publication date: August 14th, 2014
Publisher: Dutton
Links: Goodreads | Amazon US | Amazon India
Stars: 3.5/5
Source: Bought
Love ignites in the City That Never Sleeps, but can it last?

Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on introspective cartoonist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to confront the challenges every young couple must face, including family drama, uncertainty about their college futures, and the very real possibility of being apart.

Featuring cameos from fan-favorites Anna, √Čtienne, Lola, and Cricket, this sweet and sexy story of true love—set against the stunning backdrops of New York City, Paris, and Barcelona—is a swoonworthy conclusion to Stephanie Perkins’s beloved series.

REVIEW

I don't think I've waited for anything as long as I waited for Isla and The Happily Ever After to release. With the release date being pushed back by a year and everything, I thought I'd never get to read it. In a nutshell it's about:

- Isla Martin (the redhead who has about maybe two minutes worth of screen (scene?) time in Anna and the French Kiss)
- who has a brief albeit completely loopy encounter with Josh (the other half of Joshua and Rashmi as well as St. Clair's best friend in Anna and the French Kiss)
- It's an encounter that might just be her "in" with him (she's been crushing on him since Freshman year) and a possible Happily Ever After

It's an extremely simple and sweet story, really; much like Perkins' previous books, Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door. I liked how most of the conflict was self-created. You do not need a love triangle or love unrequited to turn a relationship upside down. You just need the insecurities that eat you up inside your head all day long. I think Perkins brought that out beautifully in these two wonderfully vulnerable characters.

The secondary characters, from the best friend, little sister to the ex best friend, have their quirks and flaws and an equal impact on the course of events. Much of Isla takes place in Paris, though there's a good bit of Manhattan and Barcelona. While there's the magic of Paris we experienced in Anna, there's less of the excitement and freshness to it since it's Isla's senior year and Paris practically feels like her second home. The story culminates at a much-awaited-reunion of favorites from Anna... AND Lola... with a surprise follow-up to an old story that will have you swooning!

If you are yet to read any of Stephanie Perkins' books, I suggest you start with Anna and the French Kiss. If you liked Perkins' previous books: Isla and the Happily Ever After, while lacking a little of the pep and quirk that made Anna... tick, definitely completes the series. Whether you had an unstomachable crush on Etienne St. Clair (!!) or want to know where Cricket and Lola are right now... whether you wanted to know more about Josh or that soft spoken redhead, Isla and the Happily Ever After gives you all of it!

Rating: ★★★1/2

Friday, 1 August 2014

Review: The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

Publication date: June 3rd, 2014
Publisher: Roaring Book Press
Links: Goodreads | Amazon US | Amazon India
Stars: 3.5/5
Source: Bought
Everyone has a lot to say about Alice Franklin, and it’s stopped mattering whether it’s true. The rumors started at a party when Alice supposedly had sex with two guys in one night. When school starts everyone almost forgets about Alice until one of those guys, super-popular Brandon, dies in a car wreck that was allegedly all Alice’s fault. Now the only friend she has is a boy who may be the only other person who knows the truth, but is too afraid to admit it. Told from the perspectives of popular girl Elaine, football star Josh, former outcast Kelsie, and shy genius Kurt, we see how everyone has a motive to bring – and keep – Alice down.

REVIEW

The rumours about Alice started much before super-popular Brandon died in a car wreck; allegedly while sexting Alice:

Alice Franklin is a slut.
Alice slept with two guys at the same party.
Brandon's death is Alice's fault.

There is a "slut stall" full of graffiti'd hate over Alice. 

Is it true? Nobody seems to care. And after delving into the perspectives of Alice's supposed BFF Kelsie, the ever popular Elaine, Brandon's best friend and football star Josh, genius boy Kurt and last but not the least, the infamous Alice herself-- you wonder if it even matters in the first place. 

The judgments, pent-up angst and guilt felt by nearly all of the main players runs deeper. Is Alice nothing but a scapegoat for it all?

I really can't handle talking about this for too long because it hurts too much, but I do want to say that there is one thing I've learned about people: they don't get that mean and nasty overnight. It's not human nature.
If you give people enough time, eventually they'll do the most heartbreaking stuff in the world.

The Truth About Alice is a sensitively written, clean and short read that gives you enough insight into how the scandal-mill works. It's gratifying to see how even in the darkest of times, Alice does have someone to lean on. It gave me the chills to think about how it might've turned out if class-genius Kurt hadn't stepped in and decided to be her friend when she needed one the most. It's this big what-if that bothered me more than the actual turn of events.

Like most Young Adult novels, there's a romantic twist that it would've done better without. All it does is overshadow the point of the novel. The book, perhaps a bit too deftly, sweeps the remnants of the scandal under the rug. It gives us an ending that is as positive, realistic and sensible as resolution of real-life, petty, small town scandals can get.

Rating: ★★★1/2

I read this book along with Hilda @ Catch The Lune, which was a ton of fun!! Check out her review HERE :)

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Publication date: May 13th, 2014
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Links: Goodreads | Amazon US | Amazon India
Stars: 4/5
Source: Bought
A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.

Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.


REVIEW

I'm going to copy-paste what's in the blurb, in case you're not the kind of person who reads the blurb first. Because, of the plot, this is all you need to know: 

"A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth."

No, its not just the blurb that's deliberately elusive. We Are Liars is as fragmented, as vividly illusionary, suspenseful and pseudo poetic as what you just read. The characters pop out of the page, demanding every bit of your attention span. They say pretentious things, everything they want or need is just there- on a literal platter, share a superficial, seasonal friendship amidst raging hormones and the salt of the sea water. And you'll listen to them. 

Because in their perfection and pretention and destruction, they remain glamorous. It's the sheen this kind of inherited privilege has given them.

The Liars were perfect. Until something happened and now, Cady, "the beautiful and damaged girl" has constant and prolonged migraines. A huge chunk of her memory, of "the accident" and what happened before, is missing. Gat, the Indian American boy she loved, who made her "weak", becomes inconsistent. Her friends, the Liars, seem to be crumbling with her. Her parents and aunties are drinking and shopping more than usual and their fake smiles are waning. 

What happened to these beautiful, beautiful people?

We Were Liars recounts the scenic, the surreal and the lies the Liars and their parents lived through in startling purple prose. Eventually, and without warning, it plunges into the truth which NOTHING can prepare you for and can never quite set you free. I was crying into the early morning hours. I remain stunned. I would never read this book again, because of how it messed with my head; branded it with images that will never leave me. But you should read it that once. BECAUSE it will mess with your head and grip you until you get to the bottom of it. Because it made me mull over the nature of "ownership" and things that are fickle and pretentious.

It goes without saying that if you dislike fragmented, purple prose and tales about "them poor-little-rich-kids", you will probably not like this book.

Rating: ★★★★

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Review: One Hundred Names by Cecelia Ahern

Publication date: May 6th, 2014
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository
Stars: 5/5
Source: Review copy (Thank you, William Morrow!)
Internationally bestselling author Cecelia Ahern delivers her biggest and most compelling book yet—a tale of secrets, second chances, and the hidden connections that unite our lives

Scandal has derailed journalist Kitty Logan's career, a setback that is soon compounded by an even more devastating loss. Constance, the woman who taught Kitty everything she knew, is dying. At her mentor's bedside, Kitty asks her, "What is the one story you always wanted to write?"

The answer lies in a single sheet of paper buried in Constance's office—a list of one hundred names—with no notes or explanation. But before Kitty can ask her friend, it is too late.

Determined to unlock the mystery and rebuild her own shaky confidence, Kitty throws herself into the investigation, tracking down each of the names on the list and uncovering their connection. Meeting these ordinary people and learning their stories, Kitty begins to piece together an unexpected portrait of Constance's life... and starts to understand her own.

REVIEW

I give this book five, very subjective stars. I'm not quite sure if I would've given it five stars if I'd read it way back in January, when I received it for review... or even a bit later, when in the midst of finals. But then again, is there any such thing as an objective rating? That being said, I read One Hundred Names when I needed to read it the most.

One Hundred Names opens in a hospital, where Kitty Logan asks her dying mentor, Constance Dubois, about the one story she's always wished to write. It's a difficult time for Kitty as well. She made an error in one of her stories, the scandalous kind, that caused her a suspension from her job as a TV-journalist and set her network back big time. It's a mistake that may forever ruin her career. She's hanging on to her other job at Etcetera magazine, however unrelated to the TV scandal, by a thread.

Constance asks her to retrieve a list of one hundred names-- a list that had something to do with the story she had in mind. Before Kitty can get back with the list, Constance passes away. As a part of her tribute issue, Kitty needs to find out what connects these people; the very nature of the story Constance wanted to write. There isn't much time to piece it all together... it's ONE HUNDRED different people, and lives, she'll have to delve into... and her job might just depend on it.

I can definitely picture this book being made into a movie. It would be one of those romcoms with a slightly quirkier twist, and dialogues that are meaningful and sometimes even funny. The plot might seem a bit contrived: the way most plots involving a large cast are. It features six very different, very dreamy, "ordinary" but interesting people... people who, like in most books that have several subplots, gradually find their stories intermingling when they are thrown in a common setting.

Reading One Hundred Names, however, felt far from contrived. I've always admired the earnestness in Cecelia Ahern's writing. I'm glad she doesn't stick to the same formula. Instead, she always tells us different kinds of stories that take on different perspectives; retaining the freshness in her narration. In this book, it's the earnestness of the main players that gets to you. It's easy to picture them living their lives, one day at a time. 

Kitty attempts to uncover what Constance could've possibly wanted to write about them- practically drilling various angles into their lives... and as the arc finally dawns on her- it humbles her, and the reader. It's not something you couldn't have guessed several chapters before. In fact, I think it was pretty clear from the beginning. Still, it's beautiful because it's something all of us take for granted but is very very true.

One Hundred Names, through wonderful characterization, several humorous and WTF moments, is one heck of a journey! Before you know it, you are a part of their lives: laughing, groaning, whooping and cheering them on! Their energy is your energy. It reminds you of the value of a genuine and positive story; how wasteful it is that we are constantly on the lookout for superficiality, drama, a "dark" past and conflict instead. It encourages you to look beyond the surface, at what is already around and within you. 

Rating: ★★★★★

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Review: Right Click (Click, #3) by Lisa Becker

Publication date: May 19th, 2014
Publisher: CreateSpace
Links: Goodreads | Amazon
Stars: 3.5/5
Source: Review copy
Love. Marriage. Infidelity. Parenthood. Crises of identity. Death. Cupcakes. The themes in Right Click, the third and final installment in the Click series, couldn’t be more pressing for this group of friends as they navigate through their 30′s. Another six months have passed since we last eavesdropped on the hilarious, poignant and often times inappropriate email adventures of Renee and friends. As the light-hearted, slice of life story continues to unfold, relationships are tested and some need to be set “right” before everyone can find their “happily ever after.”

REVIEW

Right Click takes us back to the CC'd and BCC'd adventures of Renee, Ethan, Shelley, Mark and the rest! With moving away, relationship-hiccups, break-ups, baby-troubles, Vegas trips, celebrity-run-ins, funerals and a wedding-in-planning, we're in for quite a ride; peppered with Billy-Joel-offs, pun-offs and plenty of surprises along the way.

In the final part of one of my favourite email-trilogies ever, Becker maintains the zippy-and-cheery pace set in Click and Double Click. Email plays an even bigger role in the characters staying connected to each other; especially in context of specific situations where no other medium works as well. 

The likability of the main players, however stuck-up and relatively annoying some of them may appear to be, instantly won me over. They have grown over the span of three books-- but at the same time, their voices are easily recognisable. Some of them make less-than-ideal comebacks and others, you continue to love to hate. While the story is centered around Renee, who has her share of ups and downs, Shelley continued to make me involuntarily "LOL" and Ashley's struggles were realistic and made my respect for her grow. Mark, who I've always found adorable, also gets his happily ever after!

I'm not going to deny that, like all chic lit novels, Right Click, too, did have that point when it got a bit too fluffy and even the ha-larity felt like an overkill. Thankfully, that's exactly when Becker chose to infuse grit and a surprising dose of tough love! Reading the last few email (!) exchanges between what has, over time, evolved into Renee's pretty tight-knit group, even left me a little teary-eyed! 

Click started out as a breezy and hilarious novel chronicling the online-dating (mis)adventures of Renee and Mark. Over time, over new and renewed friendships, heartbreak, funerals, PR-events, therapeutic pun-tertainment and hilariously tacky cat videos, it's clear that through chemistry, witty and light-hearted banter, forwards and mis-forwards, this series has morphed into so much more. And Right Click, over several plot arcs and important character milestones, provided a heartwarming and balanced finale to what has been a fabulous e-journey!

Rating: ★★★1/2

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Review: The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy by Kate Hattemer


Publication date: April 8th, 2014
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository
Stars: 5/5
Source: NetGalley
Witty, sarcastic Ethan and his three friends decide to take down the reality TV show, For Art's Sake, that is being filmed at their high school, the esteemed Selwyn Arts Academy, where each student is more talented than the next. While studying Ezra Pound in English class, the friends are inspired to write a vigilante long poem and distribute it to the student body, detailing the evils of For Art's Sake. But then Luke—the creative force behind the poem and leader of the anti-show movement—becomes a contestant on the nefarious show. It's up to Ethan, his two remaining best friends, and a heroic gerbil named Baconnaise to save their school. Along the way, they'll discover a web of secrets and corruption involving the principal, vice principal, and even their favorite teacher.

REVIEW

The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy has got to be the most enjoyable Young Adult book I've read in a while! I read this book way back in January, and if I hadn't been on an unofficial-hiatus I would've reviewed it right away. A lot of "reality show" based books end up wearing thin, but not this one.

The Vigilante Poets...(don't you love the title?) is about Ethan Andrezejczak who is witty, sarcastic, perfectly likable and hung up on ballerina Maura, the poster girl for Unattainable. Throw in a reality show their artsy unconventional school is the center of, an inspiring English teacher who introduces them to Ezra Pound's Cantos, the realisation that the show is ruining everything their school stands for and a creative rebellion is underway. There's plenty of genuine wit, solid characters, betrayals, a gerbil you will dote on and anti-climatic romantic twists to make this story epic and memorable. 

The best part? The ride is smooth. The writing is both charming and intelligent; and at no point does the plot pause. At no point are there Reflections or a pointless elaboration of angst. What we get of the show and the anti-show-movement are mere commercial-break-infused snippets. What we get of the characters, whether it's Ethan and his friends, his adorable twin sisters or even the elusive Maura, is brilliant. They grow on you, they fill you in on insights about themselves that surprise you just as much; but they never pause on it!

This book is a smart, snappy, insightful and colourful laugh-riot that reminds you of, but surpasses by a landslide, TV shows like Glee. A work of art by itself that gets the fun-insightful ratio just right, I highly recommend giving this book a shot.

Rating: ★★★★★

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Review: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys


Publication date: April 1st, 2011
Publisher: Puffin Books
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository
Stars: 4.5/5
Source: Two lovely people (Thanks a ton xD)
Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they've known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin's orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously--and at great risk--documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.

REVIEW

I have seen this book around but never thought to pick it up. I figured it would be
too intense
a difficult read
so involving, I'd get lost in it
and given the current Semester's workload, I've been seeking refuge in "easy" and predictable books with the kind of wit, banter and plot arcs that I've grown so comfortable with, the repetitiveness ceases to bother me.

But when two really good bookie friends of mine gifted Between Shades to me for my birthday, it felt like the choice had been made for me! And I'm glad.

Between Shades of Gray was too intense. There were parts where I had to blink away tears or worse, felt too numb to react. It was not an easy read but it was an important one; capturing a part of history, of Lithuanians forcibly deported to Siberian work camps by the NKVD during World War II, that I wasn't aware of. It was a story that needed to be told and couldn't have been put across in a better way.

The book also got so involving, it broke through my reluctance- completely quite possibly stemming out of nothing short of indolence- to read something that grabbed every bit of my attention and made me feel for real. It dares to infuse beauty and meaning into the period when the darkest and most cruel side of human nature was exposed. It crushes you with the enormity of the hardships these people had to shoulder and how even then, many refuse to crumble. 

The protagonist, Lina, is just fifteen years old at the time when she, along with her mother and brother are deported in a train labeled "Thieves and Prostitutes". Her perspective holds both innocence and incredible strength. It's heartbreaking how she is forced to grow up in a work camp; in such brutal, unforgivable conditions. And yet, she does. Despite being reduced to a state of near-starvation and constant worry for the people around her, she still has spirit. 

Lina's a gifted artist, and despite Soviet rules barring them to do so, she never stops drawing about the injustices they are forced to undergo. She never stops trying to get messages to her father, who is separated from them. She never stops hoping and fighting and loving. Her journey, with flashbacks to life before the deportation that are seamlessly integrated, is heartbreaking. The kind of bonds formed and the togetherness that exists among the deportees; the fabric of strength maintained by the adults for their children and their individuality despite the NKVD grouping them as "cattle" was astounding. 

Wonderfully written in a sharp, almost cinematic manner, with well-fleshed out, memorable characters, this book will, indeed, as the blurb says, "steal your breath and capture your heart." 

Rating: ★★★★1/2

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Cover Feature: Right Click by Lisa Becker

I really liked Click: An Online Love Story as it was incredibly fun and light!

The sequel, Double Clickwas even more of an entertainer.

And now it's time to unveil the cover of:

Release date: May, 2014
Links: Facebook | Click Book Trailer
Love. Marriage. Infidelity. Parenthood. Crises of identity. Death. Cupcakes. The themes in Right Click, the third and final installment in the Click series, couldn't be more pressing for this group of friends as they navigate through their 30's. Another six months have passed since we last eavesdropped on the hilarious, poignant and often times inappropriate email adventures of Renee and friends. As the light-hearted, slice of life story continues to unfold, relationships are tested and some need to be set "right" before everyone can find their "happily ever after."

!!!

Sad as I am to have to part with this series, I can't wait to see how the loose ends are tied up! And I love the heart-shaped mouse in the cover.


Right Click is due for release in mid-May. Check out the Facebook Page for further updates!

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Review: Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott

Publication date: January 28th, 2014
Publisher: HarlequinTEEN
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository
Stars: 3/5
Source: NetGalley

Life. Death. And...Love?

Emma would give anything to talk to her mother one last time. Tell her about her slipping grades, her anger with her stepfather, and the boy with the bad reputation who might be the only one Emma can be herself with.

But Emma can't tell her mother anything. Because her mother is brain-dead and being kept alive by machines for the baby growing inside her.

Meeting bad-boy Caleb Harrison wouldn't have interested Old Emma. But New Emma-the one who exists in a fog of grief, who no longer cares about school, whose only social outlet is her best friend Olivia-New Emma is startled by the connection she and Caleb forge.

Feeling her own heart beat again wakes Emma from the grief that has grayed her existence. Is there hope for life after death-and maybe, for love?

REVIEW

What do you do when you're losing the person who matters the most and suddenly, everything else loses meaning? When all that's left is anger, grief and guilt? Elizabeth Scott explores this in Heartbeat where Emma's senior year is far from what she imagined it would be like. Her mother is brain-dead, still pregnant, kept alive by machines until her baby brother can be born. She's angry that her step-father chose this for her mother... chose to have her kept alive as a vegetable as she believes her mother never wanted the baby in the first place. Her grades have gone out of the window but still, she finds love and support in unexpected places.

Heartbeat was a very difficult book to read and I cannot imagine what it would've been like to write. It reverberates sadness and leaves you at a loss for words. Emma keeps going back and forth, from anger to grief to anger to guilt, and it's frustrating, sometimes monotonous, but also realistic... when she takes her time to waver towards acceptance. I think this was the strongest point of the point... how ongoing the cycle of grief and hopelessness was until the breakthrough.

While the relationship between Emma and Caleb was this ray of light in the otherwise dark place she was in... it didn't convince me. It felt like Caleb just happened to be there and that he had experienced loss at a similar scale helped. I was more gripped by Emma's relationship with her stepfather, the baby, the lingering presence of her mother and her perspective on school and life. How these things were challenged in the face of regrets and blame, and how she came to terms with them.

It took time to get into Heartbeat but at its core, it is a well-written, perspective-changing and poignant read about love, loss and how you never really move on from the latter.


Rating: ★★★☆☆

Monday, 3 February 2014

Featuring: Mohini by Ramendra Kumar [Guest Post]

I'm happy to feature Ramendra Kumar on the blog today! Ramendra Kumar is the author of Mohini, which delves deep into the world of Bollywood. Scroll down to read about his take on movies, the kind of books he writes and more :)


A beautiful and charismatic actress, a sensitive and immensely gifted director, a scheming, wily but brilliant manager - Mohini is the pulsating saga of three individuals - each driven by an obsession. Set in the backdrop of the bold and brazen world of Bollywood, it is a tale of passion, intrigue and suspense. The narrative moves at a roller coaster speed and captures love in its myriad shades: infatuation, romance, commitment, lust and obsession...

A young girl growing up in the backwaters of Bollywood nurses a burning desire to become the number one star in the industry. In her ruthless, and sometimes reckless, pursuit she uses and is used by many individuals. However, there are two men in her life who love her to absolute distraction. Each in his own way helps her reach the zenith of fame and success. One she betrays and the other she rejects. Both unleash vengeance and in a strange quirk of serendipity are pitted against each other as the novel hurtles to a throbbing, thrilling climax…

Mohini is not merely a saga of romance - the tale offers an insight into the biggest film industry on Planet Earth - the murky manipulations, the dirty deals, the shameless shenanigans, the tears behind the glycerin, the pain behind the paint and the suffering beyond the celluloid.


Publication month: January 2014
Publisher: Bluejay Books Pvt. Ltd


GUEST POST:


A SPOT OF JOY, A SLICE OF VALUE

Over the years there have been several debates regarding a particular tag to be attached to a movie : parallel or popular cinema, art or commercial cinema or realistic or escapist cinema. I loved what Shyam Benegal once famously said, “There are only two kinds of cinema – good cinema and bad cinema.”

I have always been a huge film buff and enjoyed the entire range - action, comedy, drama, pathos et al. I have admired Guru Dutt, Raj Kapoor, Kundan Shah, Shyam Benegal, Sai Paranjpe, Rakyesh Omprakash Mehra and many others. But if were asked to choose the entire oeuvre of a director and then pick the best I would select Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Rajkumar Hirani. And if I were to pick one movie from repertoire of each of these master craftsmen it would be ‘Anand’ and ‘3 Idiots’. I have a few reasons for zeroing in on these two directors and these two movies which I would like to share.

I have so far written 24 books for children. In every book of mine I have tried to tell a story which is racy and has a reasonably high EQ (Entertainment Quotient). I believe that today a young reader has too many choices. Hence if she is not hooked from the first word to the last she would simply switch over to the some other medium. But then I also feel that only entertainment is not enough, providing escapist fare alone will not do. There should be a take away in the form of at least a hint of a whisper of value. It should not be thrust like the anti-tobacco messages on the idiot box or a Rajashree Production melodrama but rather it should be subtle tucked somewhere in the narrative so that the young one internalizes it without even realizing.

Both Anand and 3 Idiots offer dollops of entertainment. Rajesh Khanna, in his most memorable role, keeps you in splits almost throughout. Yet, even as the movie moves to a predictable denouement the value is clear : “Babumushai, zindagi lambi nahin badi honi chahiye.” In 3 Idiots Amir and his friends blunder their way through the movie. And at the end what remains is Amir’s brilliant performance and the message: ‘Strive for excellence, not success. Once you achieve excellence, success would automatically follow.’

In my first book for adults, Mohini too I have stuck to my credo. It has been called a gripping, racy, un-putdownable narrative that takes a behind the scenes look at the ‘the murky manipulations, the dirty deals, the shameless shenanigans, the tears behind the glycerin, the pain behind the paint and the suffering beyond the celluloid.’ However, it goes beyond the grim reality and the sordid drama to offer more than a dash of hope. It reiterates that it is not unbridled manipulation, naked ambition or overpowering obsession that can bring happiness. Joy and contentment can come from a simple, yet all powerful four letter word called Love. 

As I sign off let me humbly appeal to the marquee names of tinsel town and the czars and czarinas of the literary planet. Beyond the esoteric and the abstract, beyond the hype and the hoopla, there is a little space ‘rented out’ by the child in each of us. Reach out to that space with a bit of humour and a ripple of hope, a spot of joy and a slice of value.

                                                                   ~ RAMENDRA KUMAR 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Ramendra Kumar (Ramen) is ‘A Writer by Passion’. An award winning author with 23 books to his credit, he spins yarns mainly for the young and the young at heart. He also dabbles in satire, poetry, fiction and travelogues. His work has been published by some of the best names in the business and translated into several Indian and foreign languages. His stories have found a place in text books and anthologies published across the world. Ramen, an inspirational speaker and storyteller, is a regular at leading seminars and literary festivals both in India and abroad. Mohini, his first novel for adults was launched on 1/12014. Its publishers Bluejay/Shristi had to go in for the second impression, because of the demand based on pre-orders, almost immediately after its first edition. Mohini has also been maintaining its position close to the top on Amazon's 'Hot New Releases' list.

To know more about Ramen you can visit his website or his page on Wikipedia. 

He is working as Chief of Communications, Rourkela Steel Plant, Odisha.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Review: Stir Me Up by Sabrina Elkins

Publication date: 1st October, 2013
Publisher: HarlequinTEEN
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Stars: 3.5/5
Source: NetGalley
Cami Broussard has her future all figured out. She'll finish her senior year of high school, then go to work full-time as an apprentice chef in her father's French restaurant, alongside her boyfriend, Luke. But then twenty-year-old ex-Marine Julian Wyatt comes to live with Cami's family while recovering from serious injuries. And suddenly Cami finds herself questioning everything she thought she wanted.

Julian's all attitude, challenges and intense green-brown eyes. But beneath that abrasive exterior is a man who just might be as lost as Cami's starting to feel. And Cami can't stop thinking about him. Talking to him. Wanting to kiss him. He's got her seriously stirred up. Her senior year has just gotten a lot more complicated…

REVIEW

Keywords from the blurb that made me decide to read Stir Me Up despite my ambivalence towards New Adult fiction:
apprentice chef
ex-Marine
all attitude, challenges, intense-green eyes
stirred up

Quite simply, the concoction to die for! Sabrina Elkins' writing only strengthens the surface-level awesomeness of the premise. She thickens it with characters you can think around rather than cardboard cut-outs with default-pasts and actual, in-depth conversations between the characters at crossroads anyone can relate to.

Cami's senior year was supposed to be clear-cut: with classes ending by afternoon, her part-time job as an apprentice chef and time with her boyfriend. Her future is just within reach; she's going to work full-time at her father's restaurant. Then the worst of circumstances brings Julian, her stepmother's nephew and ex-Marine to Cami's home and from that point on, the year is nothing like what she thought it would be. Everything Cami thought she had figured out is put to test and there's verbal spars, reluctant truces, attraction, confusion, self-doubt and worries about her future.

There's also plenty of unbelievable hotness, mouthwatering food and an idealistic (highlight to read possibly spoiler-y adjective) resolution of things... as suggested by the blurb and cover! And honestly, anything less and I would've been disappointed.

Whether it's Cami's stubborn but doting father, her theater-loving best friend who's there at a moment's notice or even Luke, the boy she thought she would be with forever... Stir Me Up is filled with characters you will come to care about, if not instantly like. It may not be a game changer in its genre, but it never promises to be anything but an engagingly romantic read in the first place. It's well written, thought provoking, extremely fun to read and in Julian, you might just find a potential book boyfriend!

Rating: ★★★1/2

~

Also, if you have been following my blog/ are reading this:
On Books! has been shortlisted for the BlogAdda Blog Awards (category: Entertainment) and it would be awesome if you could vote for my blog by clicking on the below graphic and hitting Like/tweet:


Thanks and hope you have a great weekend! :)

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Review: The Secret Proposal by Aniesha Brahma


Publication year: 2012
Publisher: General Press
Links: Goodreads | Flipkart India
Stars: 3/5
Source: Review copy
Eight years ago, she was the teenager he would use to get out of boring parties. But now, he is stunned to see her grown up.

He decides to delay his marriage by getting into a false engagement with her. Then he falls in love with someone else and she forces herself to move on. He comes back to her, but she's determined not to take him back. Will she ever get over her unrequited love for him?

Would a grand gesture from him make her believe otherwise?

And how do you know that your knight in shining armour has been standing right next to you?

Join Tanveer 'Veer' Bhattacharya and Larissa 'Jasmine' Chakroborty as they embark on a journey which questions relationships, friendships and makes one wonder...

how long would it take for love to eventually find a way?

REVIEW

I started reading The Secret Proposal a little before my December break and it felt amazing to sink into this... fluffy, dreamy haven. The Secret Proposal is a story of unrequited love, a fake engagement that gets out of hand and a lot of ups and downs, highs and lows, red, green and mixed signals in between.

If I had to describe the protagonist, Larissa "Jasmine" Chakroborty in one word, I'd go with "likable". She's someone you'd easily be friends with and that made it easier to slip into her predicament and feel a part of this insane chapter of her life. Tanveer "Veer" Bhattacharya is the kind of guy you would fall for and probably idealise a bit too much... so I could see what Jasmine saw in him. And then there's Neeraj, who comes out of nowhere and there's no second guessing his role in the story.

As you may have guessed from the title and the cover, The Secret Proposal feels like something out of a fairy-tale. Sure, there's no prince and princess and magical kingdom but there's Veer who could double for Prince Charming in Jasmine's eyes, even if he gets on her last nerve... and Jasmine herself, who is waiting to be swept off her feet, even if it is through a fake engagement to the boy she's secretly been in love with since forever.

The Secret Proposal is at the same time a bit more grounded than most fairy-tales. For instance, the media threatens to ruin everything. We are given more than a taste of Kolkata: with a full, blown-up picture of the city during Durga Puja; the mouth-watering sweets, colours, diyas and dancing. The Happily Ever After isn't instantaneous. The pangs of misery, loneliness and confusion before the Ever After feel real. More than anything, the Prince Charming here messes up a lot and needs timely help from a good friend to make his Grand Sweeping Gesture that was staring at him in the face all along!

There are times when the ups and downs of Veer and Jasmine's relationship get a little too much and the description of Veer's "chocolate brown eyes" during their every encounter feels like too much of an overkill... but overall, The Secret Proposal is a light and breezy read. It's just the book you'd pick up if you were in the mood for something girly and romantic... if you don't mind a few cliches (and a lot of swooning) here and there. Especially when they are well-written cliches and there's enough banter to keep you entertained!

Rating: ★★★☆☆