Sunday, 13 December 2015

Review: When Our Worlds Collide by Aniesha Brahma

Publication date: October 30th, 2015
Publisher: General Press
Stars: 4/5
Source: Review copy 
Akriti has led a pretty much sheltered life.
Zayn has been shuttled from city to city when he was growing up.
She is comfortable watching her life from the sidelines.
He wants to feel rooted to a place he can call ‘home’.
They meet each other quite by chance.
And both seize the chance to be someone they both need in their lives:
For Zayn, it’s a 'Partner-In-Crime'.
For Akriti, someone who just knows how to be there for her…
When their worlds collide,
It is not what either of them expected it to be.
Zayn has a steady girlfriend. And Akriti has a crush on him.
What happens when these two become friends?
The biggest adventure of their lives? Or the road to heartbreak?
What happens when two completely different people collide?
Do they become friends? Or, is their friendship doomed from the start?
'When Our Worlds Collide' is the story of two twenty-three-year olds, Who are finally growing up and finding their feet in the world.
A tale of friendship and love, crushes and betrayals, messes and second chances,
Marriage and divorce… and the elusive happily ever after!


I remember reading Aniesha Brahma’s debut. It was a colourful and well written novel, though a little rough around the edges. While reading her latest novella When Our Worlds Collide, I couldn't help but notice how far she’d come along as a writer. The dialogue flowed smoothly and the humour was subtle but made me laugh out loud. I read it without stopping for a break, and cried so much towards the end.

When Our Worlds Collide is the story of Akriti, a twenty something girl managing her mother’s café in Kolkata. She was a wallflower in school and college, preferring not to let her guard down. Her family situation was complicated, and she preferred having no friends to letting people into her life. Fast forward a few years, and she’s still as much of a misfit. The only person she talks to is her co-worker Ayoub. Then she re-connects with Zayn, a boy she once almost spoke to in school through his girlfriend Nimmi, a girl she’d reluctantly been friends with at one point. Their worlds collide, and Akriti finds herself crushing on someone whom she knows is taken.

The novella is packed with sweet, teary and some surprisingly real moments. It does not take the easy way out; loose ends aren't tied together with a frilly pink ribbon. Akriti’s at a phase of her life a lot of people in their twenties will be able to relate to. She has dreams, but hasn’t yet realised them. She has hope, but is too scared to pin it on anything. She’s too young to be defined by her past, and yet it isn’t something she can neglect. She’s transitioning, and every step she takes in any direction opens up so many possibilities. There’s freedom and then there’s responsibility weighing in on the consequences of every “free-willed” choice.

The author does a great job exploring these conflicts. She’s not afraid to have things take a raw turn, allowing the protagonist to grow in a more than superficial way. There’s more than enough quirk in it too. Poetry slams play a huge role in the story, but in a different way compared to Colleen Hoover’s Slammed. I could feel myself rooting for this girl, and I found the not-so-clichéd ending satisfying. When Our Worlds Collide is as much a story about personal responsibility as it is a story about a “hopeless” crush. I found that refreshing, as it was something I could relate to. 

Rating: ★★★★☆

A post-script on the novella's cover design: If there was one thing that bugged me a little bit, it was the cover. The cover could've been so much more representative of Akriti and Zayn or Akriti's life, or even just...Indian. Hopefully, future editions come up with a design that is more true to the book and the ethnicity of the main characters.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Mini Review: Mind Static by Jen Naumann

Publication date: August, 2013
Publisher: At or With Me Publishing
Links: Goodreads | Amazon US 
Stars: 3/5
Source: Review copy 

Keyanna Sanders is about to get everything she could ever wish for on her 18th birthday: a hot guy who’s really into her, the sports car she’s always dreamed of owning, and the party of a lifetime that no one will forget any time soon.

But before long, she’ll understand these wishes are more than a coincidence, and that they come at a steep price. Keyanna is more than just an average high school senior, her best friend is more than the innocent boy next door, and her sudden good fortune isn’t just by chance. When her estranged father suddenly re-enters her life, she’ll have to decide who to trust, and whether or not the man she loves has become the enemy.


This has got to be the most bizarre book I've ever read. It starts, well, truly starts, the day Keyanna Sanders turns eighteen and everything she wishes comes true. In the beginning, it's mildly amusing and seems coincidental, but soon, it's clear that something has changed. What follows is this completely crazy sequence of events that feels as rapid as the blink of an eye. Seriously, every time I'd get used to something, there would be a twist and bam- completely different turn of events!

I loved how unpredictable and fun the characters were: whether it was Lock-the token hot British guy who kept me guessing-, Dallas, Keyanna's mother, her father, her best friend Nora or Dominic, I either loved to hate them or flat out liked them. There's no one I could take completely seriously, as everything we know about them is consistently put to test, but they were so exciting and fun. I was constantly guessing their motives and true intentions!

This is the kind of book that can be taken only at face value, but is nevertheless so entertaining, I didn't need to dig deeper. 

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Review: Enter the Bluebird by Brendan Halpin

Publication date: September 28th, 2013
Publisher: Peter Parley Publishing
Links: Goodreads | Amazon US 
Stars: 4/5
Source: Review copy 

Enter the Bluebird is the story of Julie Rouge, who's nearly 16 and can't wait to join her mother, the masked crimefighter Red Talon, patrolling the crime-ridden streets of New Edinburgh. 

Unfortunately, Julie's mom has disappeared, and, while searching for her, Julie is going to discover that the city she calls home is even nastier, more corrupt, and riddled with toxic secrets than she ever knew. 

Enter the Bluebird is a noir YA superhero novel about secrets and betrayal and violence and love.


Enter the Bluebird tells the story of Julie Rouge, the daughter of meta human Sonia Rouge who is also known as the Red Talon. The Red Talon loses her life fighting street crime in the city of New Edinburgh. Julie is left with a costume for her new avatar: The Bluebird, which kicks off her thirst for justice and revenge. In the process, she confronts the reality of the city she grew up in and the ghosts of her mother's past.

The only other Brandon Halpin book I've read before this is A Really Awesome Mess but the two books don't have much in common. Enter the Bluebird has no room for cutesy; it's darker and grittier than your average YA book. The world building is crazy amazing: with the Syndicate: the nucleus of corruption, Snake Oil: an addictive drug and agent of evil, the Legion of Freedom, the layout and atmosphere of New Edinburgh and the world outside it. All of my senses were enraptured by this world that could easily double as a comic-bookverse. 

It's a coming of age/origin story that is far more real than any superhero story I've ever seen. Julie has the ability to fly, and in her determination to rid New Edinburgh of corruption there's a fair amount of window-breaking, fires and angsty moments by the cemetery. More than this, though, the book confronts other harsher realities: namely, the people Julie/The Bluebird rescues, who don't necessarily find her superhero stunts amazing; not from where they're standing.

"Are you kidding me?" Kendra said. "Now I get to spend the rest of the night picking glass slivers off the beds. And then I have to go out to fill a form in triplicate and hope the housing authority fixes the window before winter comes. What happens the next time it rains? What happens if the piece of glass gets in my little brother's eye? Did you think about that?"
"No," The Bluebird said. "I only thought about the person who was screaming and trying to help her. I didn't know she was too stupid to know that she needed help."
"You're the stupid one. You're dumber than your costume. You think you know things, but you don't know anything. You think the solution to every problem is to kick somebody-"
"Fine," Julie said. She tried to find The Bluebird inside her somewhere, but she could only find little hurt Julie...

I found Kendra and her little brother refreshing. They made the story all the more gripping, and showed that yes, fighting evil isn't as easy as a well placed punch. In fact, Halpin does not simplify any of the broader issues the world of Enter the Bluebird is filled with. He is unafraid to expose Julie to hurt, heart wrenching grief, people who have more than two dimensions and danger that strikes from more than one direction and never conveniently works in her favour.

As Julie struggles to pick up the pieces, make sense of her mother's death and gets infatuated with the Mayor's son, The Bluebird carries the weight of the city and falls more than once. Enter The Bluebird is, from start till end, a vividly written YA noir that I couldn't get enough of.

Rating: ★★★★

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Audiobook Review: Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover

Publication date: August 5th, 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Stars: 2/5

When Tate Collins meets airline pilot Miles Archer, she knows it isn’t love at first sight. They wouldn’t even go so far as to consider themselves friends. The only thing Tate and Miles have in common is an undeniable mutual attraction. Once their desires are out in the open, they realize they have the perfect set-up. He doesn’t want love, she doesn’t have time for love, so that just leaves the sex. Their arrangement could be surprisingly seamless, as long as Tate can stick to the only two rules Miles has for her.

Never ask about the past.
Don’t expect a future.

They think they can handle it, but realize almost immediately they can’t handle it at all.

Promises get broken.

Rules get shattered.
Love gets ugly.


This is a really difficult review to write because I love Colleen Hoover. I love how butterflying transformative her writing is; how it turns even the most tired cliches into something wholesome. And yet nothing could pretty up Ugly Love

Ugly Love is your classic New Adult redemption story: girl, Tate Collins, who's new to San Francisco meets boy, airplane pilot Miles Archer when he's drunk, huddled outside her brother's apartment door. Right from their first meeting, it's clear that something about his past haunts him; making him renounce love. When the chapters alternate with Miles' point of view, to "six years earlier" when he meets a girl called Rachel in high school, there are no doubts about the "who", just the "how" and "what". 

Tate and Miles, who's incidentally Tate's brother's best friend, soon embark on a relationship that's plain sex. But between Miles' smoldering gazes, Tate's fervent hope that it turns into something more and all the boundaries that they set only to break, they're not fooling anyone. The alternating perspectives, which shift from present to past, were a welcome relief as I didn't want to spend all of the time on either time period. There's just a lot of build up, characters that are "technically" well developed but don't mesh and poetic prose that falls flat.

This was also my first audio book ever, and "listening" to it might've only accentuated everything I disliked about the narrative structure. Miles' perspective, especially, was filled trite repetitions in his unconditional devotion towards Rachel. It felt empty, as there's nothing we actually know about Rachel other than Miles' idealized and rosy-eyed-to-the-point-of-corny account; half of which I felt like skipping. Tates' perspective felt more Miles' perspective of Tate because I cannot for the life of me get a picture of who she is, despite living inside her head for a good part of the book. 

The heart of the story is every bit of the redemption story you're promised: there's confrontation, tragedy and confrontation of tragedy. And yet, as a whole, it felt dissatisfying.  

This isn't going to stop me from reading Maybe Someday, the only Colleen Hoover book I haven't read, but Ugly Love flat out didn't work for me.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

This post is sponsored by, India's largest audio book store, where you get one free audio book on sign up. :) All of the opinions expressed in this post are my own.