Archive for January, 2018

Jonathan StrangeĀ & Mr Norell

January 31, 2018

Book : Jonathan Strange & Mr Norell

Author: Susanna Clark

Rating: 2/5

Synopsis

At the dawn of the nineteenth century, two very different magicians emerge to change England’s history. In the year 1806, with the Napoleonic Wars raging on land and sea, most people believe magic to be long dead in England–until the reclusive Mr Norrell reveals his powers, and becomes a celebrity overnight.

Soon, another practicing magician comes forth: the young, handsome, and daring Jonathan Strange. He becomes Norrell’s student, and they join forces in the war against France. But Strange is increasingly drawn to the wildest, most perilous forms of magic, straining his partnership with Norrell, and putting at risk everything else he holds dear.

Review

I was intrigued by the title and the cover šŸ˜. The title reminded me of the Mr Jekyll and Mr Hyde not sure why. The cover which shows the lady in the mirror reminded me of Fairytales.

The only reason I finished this book was because it was a readalong. The book alternates between boring and interesting, finally on the 9th day we have wrapped it up. This book is more for classic lovers, not my piece of cake. To the fast paced reader out there it is not worth the effort of trudging through 1000+ pages.

The book talks about 2 magicians : Gilbert Norell and Jonathan Strange, who want to bring magic back to England. The magic which was lost along with the Raven King. The story takes us through the hurdles they face and the consequences of their actions. The parts where magic is done is really awesome. The last ten chapters were the best in the book, I only wish that the rest of the book was so interesting

Recommended for classic lovers

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

January 30, 2018

Book : Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Author: Becky Albertalli

Rating: 4 / 5

Synopsis

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesnā€™t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyoneā€™s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy heā€™s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simonā€™s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before heā€™s pushed outā€”without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy heā€™s never met

Review

The book starts with Martin blackmailing Simon.  Simon is a 17 year old boy who is gay.Simon found Blue over the internet and they exchange emails . Simon signs as Jacques , and we don’t know Blue’s identity. Martin happens to come across these emails and threatens to expose Simon. In exchange Martin asks Simon help him in getting close to Abby( one of Simon’s friends) The story takes us through Simon’s life , how he manages to extricate from this problem, how he plans to find Blue. 

Will Martin publish the screenshots ?
Is Simon falling in love with Blue? 
Will Simon and Blue find each other ?
Read to find out

The book was so cute and adorable . I never thought i would swoon over a gay romance , but now i do . I love Simon and Blue. I did find out who Blue was even before Simon did. This is a beautiful story of love and friendship. I loved all of Simon’s friends 

About the Author

Becky Albertalli is the author of the acclaimed novels Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (film: Love, Simon), The Upside of Unrequited, and Leah on the Offbeat. She is also the co-author of What If It’s Us with Adam Silvera. A former clinical psychologist who specialized in working with children and teens, Becky lives with her family in Atlanta.

Liza’s Second ChanceĀ 

January 30, 2018

Book :Ā Liza’s Second Chance

Author: Molly Jebber

Rating: 3.5 / 5

Synopsis

The sweet welcome of straight-from-the-oven sugar cookies and hot cocoa. The warm invitation of apple pie and fresh cold milk. In 1912 Ohio, the Amish Charm Bakery is the heart of a close-knit, faith-nourished community, where people can find a refuge, a place to start againā€”and love that can make their lives new . . .

For Liza Schrock, the bakery her late husband bought was an unexpected haven from their unhappy arranged marriage. Now she’s perfectly content to cook up mouth-watering delights for her hometown, give to those alone or in troubleā€”and remain happily unwed. And though she’s willing to give handsome, newly-arrived widower Jacob Graber all the help he desperately needs, she is sure they can stay just friends . . .

But as Liza also tries to aid Jacob’s troubled teenage daughter, she starts caring far too much for his gentle ways and steadfast hopes. And when a wrenching secret she must keep comes between them, can Liza find the faith to risk opening her heart againā€”and reach for one more chance at real love?

ReviewĀ 

I’m grateful to the publishers(Kensington Books) and Netgalley for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review

I have always loved books about bakeries ,maybe because i have a sweet tooth. I had never read about the Amish life before . Apparently they are a group of people who believe in the simple things , who don’t prefer the modern conveniences. They marry among their congregation and have strong faith in the God .

Liza , our protagonist is a widow who has her own bakery . Her sister and her niece help her at the bakery. Liza’s husband Paul was a generous and well loved man in the community,but he was unkind and uncaring towards her. JacobĀ  also a widower has moved to charm with his daughter Ellie. Since her mother’s death Ellie was a troubled teenager, and Jacob is at his wit’s end regarding her . The first time Jacob meets Liza at the bakery , they are attracted to each other.

Can Liza get over her fear of marriage ?
Can Ellie accept Liza as her mother ?
Do Jacob and Liza get their happily everafter ?
Read to find out

I fell in love with the cover of this book . As i had just finished a true crime novel, was looking for a light read and this book was apt for it . When you read a lot of love stories , you kind of know how the plot will go. I felt the story was too predictable . My favourite character is Peter, i loved the kid . I loved that the recipe for Liza’s molasses cookie was there at the end of the book, and there was also a glossary for all the German terms used in the book.

Recommended for romance readers

Our Phenomenal LoveĀ 

January 28, 2018

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Book : Our Phenomenal Love

Author : Garima Khurana

Rating : 3 / 5

SynopsisĀ 

The story is about how a teenager couple who fall in love after a lot of hurdles, heartbreaks and make through it for a long time but suddenly a mistake strikes in and screws up everything. Relationships are made and destroyed but love remains the same. Grab your phenomenal copy to know if their love story enjoys the roller coaster of phases of love they too face drastic end.
Review

I received a free eARC from The Book Planet PR in exchange for an honest review

The story starts off with Aman and Anvi roaming around Chandigarh. They are reminiscing old memories. Anvi comes across her old friend Tanya. Tanya asks her aboutĀ  the guy with her , she says it was husband and thatĀ  it wasĀ  an arranged marriageĀ  . So Tanya inquires toĀ  Anvi about her boyfriend, to which Anvi replies ” Oh that one.. he is my husband now “. Tanya is confused and demands on hearing the whole story . They plan to meet upĀ  tomorrow to catch up with each other’s life.

Anvi and Tanya meet up and she gives Tanya excerpts from both her and Aman’s diaries.It is through these diary entries that we as a reader get to read their Phenomenal love story. It takes us back to time when Anvi was in Class 10 . She had joined the school last year . She gets selected as Vice Captain of the school.She meets Aman on one of the programs which was managed by the school council.

How did Anvi and Aman fall in love ?
Why did Anvi say it was an arranged marriage ?
Read to find out.

It was aĀ  short and sweet love story . It was good to hear the story from both Aman and Avni’s perspective. The problem was often i didn’t realise who was narrating, it was confusing. You have to read a few lines to understand the narrator of the chapter. Anvi was the studious introvert girl, and Aman was the outgoing playboy. There were times i felt some Bollywood touch and the ending was too filmy (cheesy) . On the whole it was an ok read .

Recommended for readers who love romance

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Strangler

January 27, 2018

Book : Strangler

Author : Corey Mitchell

Publication date : Jan 30, 2018

Format : Kindle edition 

Rating : 4 / 5 

Synopsis

To the outside world, Anthony Allen Shore was an average guy: a twice-divorced father who drove a tow truck in suburban Houston. Handsome and charismatic, he generally kept a low profile. But in his mind he was a superstar . . .

A musical prodigy who never realized his potential, Shore found a way to outsmart societyā€”by getting away with murder. And he wanted the whole world to know it. After brutally killing a 16-year-old girl, he called the local NBC affiliate and told an editor precisely where to find her body.

Eight years passed before DNA evidence caught up with Shore. Subsequent police investigations revealed a violent megalomaniac who had sexually abused his own daughters. He confessed to murdering four females, one only nine years old. And he hinted at many, many moreā€”leading authorities to believe that Anthony Allen Shore could even be the notorious ā€œI-45 Serial Killer,ā€ whose bloody legacy had earned for one Texas highway the grisly moniker ā€œCorridor of Blood.ā€ Bestselling author Corey Mitchell recounts the case from its twisted beginnings to its chilling conclusion . . .

Review

I am grateful to the publisher ( Kensington Books ) and Netgalley for providing  an ARC in exchange for an honest review

I have always been a fan of serial killer books, mostly because i enjoy playing detective. This is my first true crime novel and i enjoyed it . This book is about the serial killer  Anthony Allen Shore widely known as “Strangler” , who killed 3 children and 1 woman . The author takes us through not only the killer’s  and victims’ life , we are also  allowed glimpses into the lifes of the investigative officers, the lawyers too . It also contains the confessions of the serial killer. The confessions were disturbing, as we could feel his complete disregard for human life. We also get to follow the court case which finally convicts him of capital murder. 

Anthony Allen Shore was a charmed and a musical prodigy, yet he couldn’t control his baser impulses even with his own daughters. He was married twice, and the children of his first marriage were living with him. His elder daughter was autistic, even she was sexually abused. 

Read to know more 

The fact that he was caught 17 years after he commited his first murder is a relief. I’m happy to know he got the death penalty and was executed on Jan 18 . There were a lot of cringe worthy moments in the book .”Truth is stranger than the fiction ” is the quote that came to my mind once i finished the book .

Recommend for readers who love true crime 

Eternity DuetĀ 

January 24, 2018

Book : Eternity Duet

Author: Brindi Quinn

Rating: 5 / 5

Synopsis

Awyer composes. He draws his hand along my spine. ā€œIf you do not exist, then I will not exist either. Make me as you are. Make me unseen. We can be together then.ā€

The castle town of Eldrade has not been invaded for nearly a thousand years. Protected by powerful barrier enchants, its people live in near seclusion, awaiting nothing; for they have long forgotten the balance of enchantments. They have long forgotten the consequences of their stolen color.

One such resident, a sphinx-eyed boy, sits sifting grain in a most unassuming storehouse at the western docks. A modest boy in a modest task, there is nothing so remarkable about him.

But all of that will change.

All of it is already beginning to change.

And it is my duty to help him. I who do not fully exist. I who should not feel for him. I who have begun to evolve.

A war of magicks rages.

Includes two parts: “EverDare” and “NeverSleep.”

Review

I received a ebook copy of the book in exchange for an honest review 

The Eternity duet consists of two books Everdare and NeverSleep. The story takes place in a dystopian world. All living things live inside the Eternity Vessel which is suspended in time by 2 sources :- Azure at the top and Blood at the bottom. Amethyst the third power is the strongest as it is a combination of Blood and Azure.  The people who have blood power and the people who have azure power fight with the amethyst people and the winner gets the amethyst, this was rotated in cycles so none have unfair advantage over the other. But the last people who got Amethyst, lived in Eldrade created a barrier so that their land could never be found.

The narrator is Grimm, a naefaeri, her ward is Awyer a partial Sphinx. They both are at Eldrade when the attacks happen. Eldrade has been found out. Grimm had promised that she would bring the Amethyst power to the sphinxes(The Golden Lands) . The books takes us through the journey of Awyer and Grim. Somewhere along the way they realize they have feelings for each other

Will they make to the Golden lands?

Can Grimm and Awyer get their happily after?

Read to find out

I loved the world building. The book is fast paced and keeps you on the edge. The plot line is engrossing and the story has many interesting characters. My favorite characters were Pedj and Grim. It is at the end of the book that you understand the relevance of few things

Recommended for fantasy lovers 

Non Profit Girl

January 18, 2018

Book : Non Profit Girl

Author : Ann Beltran

Rating : 4 / 5

Synopsis

If you had an unwanted pregnancy, what would you decide?
When Liv, 21 and about to graduate into a career of nonprofit work, returns from India and discovers sheā€™s pregnant, she needs to make choices that will define her life. What should she tell her live-in boyfriend Devin who is not the father? Does she want to have an abortion as her best friend Elyse urges? If not, will she give up the baby as her mother Katherine did?
Set in Seattle, with flashbacks to her time in Mumbai and affair with Rama, watch Livā€™s new-found feminism shape her decisions. And hear a legacy from the women in her family that gives her the courage to stand for her own values.
This coming-of-age story begins the Nonprofit Girl Trilogy that evolves into a family saga spanning 15 years and populated by strong women of all ages.

Review

I received a free ebook copy from Free and Fast Reviews in exchange for an honest review 

This is a story which touches on the subject of unwanted pregnancy. Liv is a 22 year old who is interested in doing her post graduation in non profit work. She is in a live in relationship with Devin. The story starts after Liv comes back from an internship in India. She finds out that she is pregnant and that it was by an Indian guy Rama. Liv is confused as to what her next step should be. Her mother , Katherine was faced with the same option years ago, she opted to give the baby away after birth. After many years, Ryan contacted Katherine, now they are trying to build a relationship. The story takes us through Liv’s life about how she struggles to do what is right.

Will Liv get an abortion?
Will she give up her baby after birth like her mother?
Or is there a third option?
Read to find out.

It was an engaging story. I liked all the characters. It was easy to connect to Liv, though at times I didn’t like her.I loved Elyse who stood by Liv, no matter what her choice was.  I liked the references to Ramayana in the book. Rama, although he is considered the perfect man is not somebody i would forgive , because of what he put Sita through. Would love to read more of Liv’s story.

About the Author

Ann uses her own nonprofit career experiences, travel to India, and volunteer work with the International Rescue Committee in Seattle, her home of thirty years, to context the inner explorations of those affected by adoption. Having her own adopted son who met his birth family has attuned her to the emotional cross-currents surrounding unwanted pregnancy.

Currently residing in the Washington, D.C. area, she teaches business courses as an adjunct professor at George Washington University and uses her J.D. to be a citizen advocate with RESULTS to help alleviate the worst aspects of domestic and global poverty.

 

RuinedĀ (Regency Retold #1)

January 18, 2018

Book: Ruined(Regency Retold #1)

Author : M C Frank

Rating : 4 / 5

Synopsis

The duke of Ashton sits at the Opera at Vauxhall Gardens, bored out of his mind, and plans murder.
He curses the day that brought the little governess, destitute and sad, at his door eight months ago, to upset his careless if a bit meaningless existence.
How could he have guessed the terrible, evil secrets she was hiding? And now that he knows all, the truth appears wilder, even more despicable than even he could have imagined. He hadnā€™t counted on losing his heart to her, of course, but he did.

What he doesnā€™t know is that a tendril of the shadows of madness and sin that followed Beatrice to his door is still out there, looking for something to devour.
The only one who can save him from the darkness is the girl herself, but he knows heā€™ll never see her again. He who once prided himself on his indifference to other human beings, feels his chest constrict with pain every time he even thinks of her.

Beatrice, smart, gentle, kind-hearted, lovely.
Ruined.

A perfect blend of darkness and light, this Regency retelling of Jane Eyre will break your heart as well as uplift it.

Review

First of all thanks to the author for the review copy. I’m proud to be part of MC Frank’s Street team as well Book Robin Hoods

This is a regency retelling of Jane Eyre, as I’m still in the process of completing Jane Eyre, so I can only say that the characters are similar. Dominic,the duke of Ashton is looking for a governess for his ward Adelina.Ā  Adelina is his cousin’s daughter, who passed away and the responsibilityĀ  of his daughter was handed over to Dominic.Ā  He interviews several candidates and finally selects Beatrice Devon , even though she is just 19 years old . Dominic is astonishes at the progress which Beatrice makes on Adelina. Dominic enjoys his time with Beatrice, but he realises that she is afraid of something or someone.

What is Beatrice afraid of?

Will Beatrice make a lady out of Adelina

Is the Duke falling in love with the governess?

Read to find out

I enjoyed the book a lot. I read it in one sitting, took about 3-4 hours. The banter between Beatrice and the Duke was amusing. Kiss scenes were smoky. The narrative is interspersed at times with Beatrice ‘s part which adds to the mystery of the book. I love Beatrice’s character, my heart broke for her.Dominic , was the dark handsome duke who rushes to rescue the damsel in distress, theĀ  arrogant rake who falls in love . Adelina , was a cute spoilt brat, she was fun at times.Lady Augusta was perfect as a motherly character

Recommend for romance readers

About the AuthorĀ 

M.C. Frank (writer, reader, designer, physicist and teacher, to name a few) has been living in a world of stories ever since she can remember (that’s before she knew how to write). She started writing them down when she could no longer stand the characters in her head screaming at her to give them life, and while those first scribblings weren’t exactly good (nor were they books, although she insisted on calling them that), they were enough for her to discover her passion in life.
She got her university degree in physics a few years ago (yes, she’s like Sheldon, only a bit crazier!) and is now free to pursue her love of reading and writing, as well her free-lance job as editor-in-chief. She lives with her ‘dude’ in a home filled with candles, laptops and notebooks, where she rearranges her overflowing bookshelves every time she feels stressed.

The GazeboĀ 

January 16, 2018

Book : The Gazebo

AuthorEmily McGlashan

Rating : 3/5

Synopsis

Growing up and trying to be accepted as part of a crowd when you are already in a minority, is never easy but for teenager, Lola Tarapachii, life is far more complicated than just the usual adolescent angsts. With an alcoholic mother and a severely depressed older brother, Lola has to face responsibilities far beyond her years. An unexpected fire in the school dining hall, leads to Lola making life-changing relationships with an eclectic family of youths who accept her for who she is, share her troubles and help her tackle the hardest decision she has ever had to make…

Review

Thanks to Olympia Publishers for the review copy.

The story takes us through the life of Lola. Lola is a black girl who lives with her mother, whose is an alcoholic and her elder brother, Sebastian who is suffering from depression. The book talks about how Lola copes living with them. Lola’s best friend is Anne , who is white.Lola’s grandmother comes to live with them sometimes, that is the only time Lola feels cared for. Sebastian refuses to eat, and has tried to take his life once before. Lola is the only thing that is keeping him alive. 

Will Lola be able to save Sebastian?
Can Lola live a normal life?
Read to find out

It was a short book, I finished in about 1-2 hours. It tells us of the impact of depression on the patient’s loved ones.There are moments throughout the book where we can feel  the  racial discrimination.I like how the title correlates with the story. The Gazebo is where Lola makes new friends, the whole story revolves around the events that happen there. 

Hell! No Saints in Paradise

January 13, 2018

Book : Hell! No Saints in Paradise

Author : A K Asif

RatingĀ : 4 / 5

Synopsis

2050, New York. In the aftermath of a gruelling spiritual cleansing quest, Ismael, a Pakistani-American student, enters into an alliance with spiritual beings who send him on a perilous journey of self-discovery. A non-believer, Ismael must return to Pakistan, now in the grip of a brutal fundamentalist government, and gain the trust of his estranged father, a prominent extremist in the Caliphate. To accomplish this, he must pose as a true believer. Will he survive long enough to infiltrate his father’s inner sanctum and complete his mission? Hell! No Saints in Paradise is both biting satire and allegory that takes urban fantasy to dizzying heights.

Review

Thanks to WritersmelonĀ  for the review copy

The story takes place in 2050,New York. We meet Ismael, the narrator and main protagonist, who is an atheist. He left Pakistan and moved to America ,when he was 18 years. He is out to write a thesis on whether Heaven and Hell exists.

On his quest he comes in contact with other worldly beings who entrust him with a mission.They suspect that Khalifa, the head of Pakistani Government has a evil plan up his sleeves.Ismael has to gain the trust of his estranged father, and infiltrate the Khalifa’s camp. His father Ibrahim is a staunch believer in Paradise and Hell and is one of Khalifa’s close confidants. The Lahore, toĀ  whichĀ  Ismael comes back to after 12 years is different. People are ready to die and kill to earn “swaab” (blessings). Everyone is obsessed on going to paradise,and nobody can stand non believers.

Will Ismael gain the trust of his father?
Does Paradise and Hell exist?
Who are the other worldly beings who have made Ismael a part of the mission?
Read to find out

The book started out slow, then it picked up pace. There were times that I was so confused and felt the whole thing was strange. It is brilliant, if you think of it as a religious satire. It reminded me of a story I studied in school of a priest who reached heaven, where God asks him “Why are the bhajans (devotional songs) played on speakers, do you think I’m deaf?”. It was hilarious at times. Full marks for the sheer imagination of the author. I felt that the elaborate descriptions of the sex scenes was not needed. This is a book which may not appeal to everyone.

Recommend for readers who love religious satire