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…


Keywords from the blurb that made me decide to read Stir Me Up despite my ambivalence towards New Adult fiction:
apprentice chef
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


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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?


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: ★★★☆☆