Sunday, December 30, 2012

Review: Pink or Black 2

Tishaa Khosla
Title: Pink or Black 2: High Drama at High School
Author: Tishaa Khosla (click to see the website!)
Published: 2012 by Rupa Publications
Pages: 166
Price: Rs. 140
My Rating: 4/5

Blurb from the book's cover!
Tiana's school year has just started and looks bleak already. Her boyfriend is concerned they 'don't connect anymore', her best friends are being super nasty, her lunch group has been taken over by new comers, and the final nail in the coffin: a blast from the past, whom she believed she had left behind forever, has moved to Hill View High.

Will anything go right for Tiana as she juggles friends old and new, tries to stay in her teachers' good books and most importantly, attempts to keep all the boys at bay while she figures out her own feelings?

My Thoughts!
This book is a sequel to Pink or Black, which introduced the little world of Tiana and her friends when they're Class X students at Hill View High boarding school. Pink or Black 2 takes off from when they're beginning a new year in school, with the baggage of the past on their shoulders, teachers' and parents' heavy expectations in front of them, and some new (unpleasant) surprises for Tiana! Tiana's life seems like it's on a roller coaster, Karam, her boyfriend thinks they should break up, her friends are acting weird, especially Bella, who seems to hold a grudge against Tiana for just about everything. Then there's Tea, Tiana's cousin who joins her school this year (yep. That's her name, after the beverage). This is not all, there's one more person, a new character, whom Tiana had hoped never to see again, but there he is, a 'hot new guy' at Hill View High, bent on making her life as hellish as possible. Okay, not really, but he was a lot of trouble. 

All through the book, it's all about how Tiana's friends gradually start acting like enemies, beginning with Bella. There are a lot of misunderstandings, fights, wrong-place-wrong-time kind of situations, horrible back-biting and whatnot. Tiana definitely has a lot of boy trouble. As if two boys were not enough, a third crops up in the middle of the book. What I liked about this book was the introduction of 'new' characters. Tiana is sort of 'banished-by-chance' from her usual lunch table and she finds it easy to make friends with the other girls, who're not as snooty as her 'friends' are. Even though the new characters added a lot to the book by making it interesting and showing the school as something much more than just Tiana's group of friends, I sometimes felt that it may have been a bit too much. I mean, all those new characters added a whole lot of drama to her life, more than it already is. Though I have to say her new friends, Sara and gang, seemed quite pleasant (or maybe the only ones who are).

Coming to characters, Tiana's a strong willed and smart girl, someone who knows her boundaries and is not afraid to speak her mind as and when the situation demands it. I really admire her for these qualities, but I wish she wouldn't be such a magnet for weird guys! (But who am I to say? :P) Maybe I feel this way because I understand how frustrating it can be and I wanted some comfort in knowing that she'd be able to get away with such silly stuff, but that's not the case, unfortunately. Apart from Tiana, the only other character I admire is Karam, a sensible guy who likes Tiana for who she is. I've been wanting to write this one thing ever since I got into the first few pages of the book: I do not like Bella, at all! As a character, she represents the snooty girl who's aggressively jealous, mean and cares more for herself rather than thinking about her friends. I guess she could have been made likable if she did anything positive or realized the error of her ways anywhere in the book, but that's what was slightly disappointing. Tiana's friends are so obsessed with themselves that she doesn't seem to fit with them anymore, which I guess was simply a reflection of what happens in real life. Haven't most of us gone through a similar situation? I was getting kind of restless seeing Tiana still staying on good terms from her side with them, though I was immensely relieved to see her finally reacting to all the non-sense by lashing out at them and coming to terms with her situation with a few realizations and good decisions. 

Tishaa's writing style is quite simple, and engrossing. She doesn't use heavy set words and phrases, which makes the whole reading experience quite 'easy' and 'light' and I'm sure, readers are able to easily connect with the characters and the sequence of events. Another good thing about it is that it has a wonderful 'flow' to it, with no breaks or hurdles. Thanks to it, you'll be able to finish the book in a day, if you just sit/lie down in a comfortable place and have all day to read, because really, once started, it's hard to put down! ^_^ The message is quite similar to the first book- that of individual choices and 'growing' as a person, shown as Tiana dealing with her innermost feelings and preferences as opposed to those of her friends. Compared to the first book, this one definitely shows the maturity in the characters (or maybe just in Tiana), but it's definitely visible. Even then, I'm not sure which book I like better. The shortcomings of the first are covered in this one and where this one lacks ("too" much drama, I think), the first book was perfectly balanced. Anyway, it's a well-thought attempt, with better writing style and the kind of teenage fiction you'd love to read if you're into high school drama kind of books! This is the first book (except for the first in the series) of this kind that I've read by an Indian author and it does not disappoint! :) 

Recommended for: Teenagers, YA readers, chick-lit lovers and generally, anyone looking for a light high school drama story! 

PS- How can I miss mentioning: the cover! *cuteness* :D

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Review: Eternity is Temporary

Bill Broady
Title: Eternity is Temporary
Author: Bill Broady
Published: 2007 by Portobello Books
Pages: 304
Find it at: Flipkart
My Rating: 3/5!

Blurb from the book's cover!
It's the blazing hot summer of 1976 and Adrea and Evan have just started working in a north London care home. Their days are spent nursing an eclectic group of residents and dodging Matron and her twisted entourage, and their evenings reverberate to the loud, shouty sounds of the new punk rock- and to the shock of first love. As the heat rises on the streets, so does the intensity of their feelings, with inexorable, incendiary consequences...

My thoughts!
Set in the city of London, in the alleys and corners less talked about, Eternity is Temporary is, what I would call, a deep reflection of human psychology, bringing openly the thoughts and activities one usually doesn't put down in a book. It's totally descriptive, discussing at length the feelings, thoughts, insecurities, delving deep into the mind, about every character for every thing that's relevant to them. There isn't, as such, a long plot or a story. There is one base story, a guy called Evan is acquainted with a weird couple in a bar in London (which happens to be run by a midget), and he agrees on a job at Heron Close, a care home for old people who're either afflicted with physical or mental problems. There he meets Adrea and they fall in love. The story goes on how all residents at Heron Close and everyone else: the Matron, caretakers, cooks, cleaners and helpers, etc are living, going in details about most of them and their stories, their past and their troubles. It shows how Evan and Adrea, with renewed enthusiasm, try to bring in pleasant changes in the home, for the benefit of the residents and how it goes on great for a while before settling back and going off after a while. 

The best thing about this book is the descriptive aspect and the frank way with which it brings out everything about the characters and their lives. It's not biased towards anyone, just sort of gives a factual description of everything. It's not too factual, though. When it talks about the conflicting emotions of a character, it is able to invoke a feeling of connected-ness. It's like you've just been to that place and lived there, with all those people and seen everything that happened, first hand. Not many books give you that feeling. I guess that's the way it was meant to be: describing a whole small world to the readers, in a totally complete sense. You can picture the characters, the care home, the bars, the railway tracks, the punk rock concerts and everything. There's a lot of music and rock band-talks in the book, considering a lot of characters like music. That was something that maybe, added a little bit of 'color' to the book. For me, the writing style was flawless and there were numerous lines and phrases where it became humorous!

This is the kind of book that's not really "my" type and so I definitely had a bit to struggle with. For starters, I wasn't into the book until at least a 100 pages went by. It was then that it started looking a bit promising. As the story involves bars, a care home managed by really weird people with their own set of problems, the residents and some mean people who're nothing short of depressed and leading a lonely life, there wasn't much that was "bright and light" in this book. So it might seem depressing, just talking about troubles and vivid details of desires, wants and imagination. It definitely became interesting in between but I was slightly disappointed by the way certain characters simply vanished from the story. And no, I did not like the end. Which personally means a lot to me.

Nevertheless, I liked the meaning behind all of this. There's a painting in the care home where there's an inscription that says, 'Eternity is Temporary'. That's the whole idea of the book, according to what I inferred. When Evan and Adrea are so much in love, enjoying the close moments, looking and admiring beautiful things and memories together, and when things are going breezy at Heron Close, it seems like it should go on forever, it seems like eternity. However, gradually and due to certain situations, things go back to the way they were and what happens to Evan and Adrea is something I'm not spilling. Let's just say it simply lives up to the title and shows it's true: Eternity IS Temporary. Some lines from the book I liked:

'We're like those people in your picture'- Adrea gestured towards Eternity is Temporary- 'They know they're in the right place but they don't know what to do next. They've discovered that eternity is temporary but they don't know what difference that makes. All they can do is sit and wait. Like us. We're ready to go and we're just one step away from something remarkable'.

Recommended for: Adults, experimental readers and those who love a lot of descriptions!

Thank you Random House publishers for this book! 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Holiday readings!

*Drumroll* It's winter break! Like, fin-freaking-ly! You know how much I'd been missing out on reading because of super-annoying the hectic college and I'm kind of bowed down in a serene prayer position right now. Okay, not really, because there's no way I could have been typing this, but still. Metaphorically. I don't think I've ever appreciated holidays this much before.

Anyway, with these holidays, there's an associated list of books I have to read! Have as in, no compulsion, but you know how it is, you just can't breathe without getting your eyes set on some great pages at least! Here's the list! (All these books are linked to their Goodreads page)

1. The Affair by Lee Child (read review here). 

2. Eternity is Temporary by Bill Broady : Reading now!

3. Across Many Mountains by Yangzom Brauen.

4. The Fault in our Stars by John Green (Yess!!): Reading now! (super yess!! :D )

5. Insurgent by Veronica Roth (I should just go die if I don't read this before 2012 ends!)

6. The Vampire Academy books by Richelle Mead : For heaven's sake I have the whole set and I haven't even started! I so want to go ahead with the Bloodlines books too, which would be possible only when I finish this series! 

Kind of a messy collage :P

7. More of A Calmer You by Sonal Kalra: The second compilation of 'A Calmer You' columns in HT City on Sundays! (The first one: A Calmer You). It's a new release, haven't received my copy yet! 

8. Family Pictures by Sue Miller: From the library, seems interesting and I better read this before the due date!

9. Matched by Allie Condie: From the library too. I picked this one up purely on the basis of the words 'dystopian' printed at the back! ;)

10. "Chosen", Dark Passage by M.L. Woolley: An e-book I won in a giveaway! :D

11. Underworld, Dark Passage 2 by M.L. Woolley: Received as a gift from the author! Thank you! :)

I guess if I'm done with these, I'd get into some or the other e-book as well. I mean, e-books are such easy reads, somehow. I'd soon be doing a year end post with lots of books' names as well as the next year readings and challenges and stuff! ;) Keep reading! 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Review: The Affair by Lee Child

Lee Child
Title: The Affair (A Jack Reacher Thriller)
Author: Lee Child
Published: 2011 by Bantam Press (Random House publishers)
Pages: 526
Find it at: Flipkart / Amazon
Genre: Crime thriller
My Rating: 4.5/5!

Goodreads blurb!
Everything starts somewhere. . . .For elite military cop Jack Reacher, that somewhere was Carter Crossing, Mississippi, way back in 1997. A lonely railroad track. A crime scene. A cover up. A young woman is dead, and solid evidence points to a soldier at a nearby military base. But that soldier has powerful friends in Washington. Reacher is ordered undercover—to find out everything he can, to control the local police, and then to vanish. Reacher is a good soldier. But when he gets to Carter Crossing, he finds layers no one saw coming, and the investigation spins out of control. Local sheriff Elizabeth Deveraux has a thirst for justice—and an appetite for secrets. Uncertain they can trust one another, Reacher and Deveraux reluctantly join forces. Reacher works to uncover the truth, while others try to bury it forever. The conspiracy threatens to shatter his faith in his mission, and turn him into a man to be feared.

My thoughts!
If I had ever thought wished to read a thriller that would make my breaths short and force my eyes not to close till the very end, I must have been imagining the kind of feeling you get if you read The Affair. Just a perfect kind of a thriller, this book is based six months prior to the setting of Killing Floor where Jack Reacher finds himself posted in Mississippi, just to keep a 'lookout' and inform the base about any weird activity. Reacher is one solid man with numerous physical combat moves ready at the drop of a hat, with immense precision and guts, and a head full of knowledge, analytical skills and an uncanny ability to judge people and their actions. Just the right kind of an investigator you'd prefer. With a military background, Reacher is adequately experienced and equipped, which makes the book a whole lot fun and interesting, as the readers get to know experience total military/investigative action as close as real could get!

Unlike in Killing Floor, this time I could make out Reacher's personality much better, which made it easy to imagine him doing whatever he was doing. Elizabeth Deveraux, the sheriff is a very smart woman, the no-nonsense types, extremely pretty and stuck with three homicides, the investigation of which is going nowhere. I really liked the way Deveraux was presented: slightly unpredictable. As the seed of doubt is sown in the story, you're not sure which side the decision would go. Who's the real guilty party? Who's faking? As an eager reader, I usually anticipate in advance what the outcome would be and then it's up to the rest of the story to either tell me if I'm right or wrong (which, by the way, is more thrilling!). In this book however, you might have to make a hard choice, if you decide to predict the outcome like I do. You might be oscillating back and forth on your opinion, and not just once. That's what's great about thrillers and mysteries, no? Unpredictability! The Affair meets this criteria very well!

As far as the story/plot goes, cent per cent marks! Though initially when the setting changed it got a bit confusing, but it didn't go beyond more than 20-30 pages. When Reacher's in Mississippi and the story begins, it's a total 'oh-my-god-what's-happening-I-can't-stop-reading' kind of a thing. There are murders, there are suspects, new interesting and sometimes startling facts come up, most chapters end on a suspense-kind note, so that it's hard to 'just read another chapter'. I loved the plot twists, all of them! The ending seemed just right. Reacher's intuition and that secretive information and feeling that is revealed only at the end, is quite promising. I wasn't disappointed! The only thing I hoped was that the 'end' end would have covered a few more pages, as it seemed a little bit rushed up. The fact that people accepted their fates easily, as if either they knew all along it was coming, or they're just like that: they wouldn't put on a great emotional show. Whatever it was, it seemed good enough to me!

The writing style is great, full proper sentences ;) The best part is how the author is able to inculcate important general facts without making it seem like an information overload. I love such books, learning-the-fun-way types. The descriptive aspect is great. Much better than great, if I may say so. I think that's mostly because Reacher is that kind of a guy who has a complete mental clock and calculator inside of him, and all that is right on paper. Overall, a great suspense thriller that would keep you on edge most of the times, and so gripping that you're surely going to bite off all your nails! ;)

Some quotes from the book I loved and saved:

"Sometimes if you want to know for sure whether the stove is hot, the only way to find out is to touch it"

"Smart, conscientious people hate making mistakes. Not just because of ego. Because mistakes of a certain type have the kinds of consequences that people with conscience don't like to live with"

"Blood and brains are realities, and realities are unwelcome visitors in the world of make-believe"

"For years you've laughed off the small things, but they come so thick and fast that eventually you realize an avalanche is made up of small things. Snowflakes, right? Things don't get much smaller than that. Suddenly you realize that small things are big things"

Recommended for: Crime fiction/mystery/suspense lovers, Adults (it's got some gory descriptions of the murders and a couple of intimate scenes)

Thank you Random House publishers for this book! :)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Review: Glimpse (Zellie Wells #1)

Stacey Wallace
Title: Glimpse (Zellie Wells #1)
Published: May 2010, Self-published
Genre: YA Paranormal Fantasy
Pages: 262 
My Rating: 3.5/5!

Goodreads blurb!

Zellie Wells has a devastating crush on Avery Adams, the son of her mom’s high school sweetheart. At her sixteenth birthday party, held in the basement of her dad’s church, she finally finds the courage to talk to him. Turns out, the devastating crush is mutual. 

As Avery takes her hand and leads her out onto the makeshift dance floor, Zellie is overwhelmed by her first vision of his death; shocking because not only are they both covered in his blood, but they’re old, like thirty-five, and she is pregnant.

Afraid to tell anyone about the vision, (she’d just be labeled a freaky black magic witch, right?) Zellie keeps the knowledge of Avery’s future to herself and tries to act like any other teenager in love. When they get caught on their way to a secret rendezvous by her mom and his dad, they are forbidden to see each other.

Convinced that their parents are freaking out unnecessarily, Avery and Zellie vow to be together no matter what. They continue their relationship in secret until Zellie learns that their parents are just trying to prevent her and Avery from suffering like they did. The visions are hereditary, they’re dangerous, and if they stay together the visions will come true. 

Now Zellie must choose between severing all ties with Avery, like her mom did to prevent his father’s death, and finding a way to change Avery’s future.

My Thoughts!
Glimpse is definitely a fairly nice fun read! Based on the life of sixteen year old Zellie and her 'abilities' of a seer that she inherits from her Mother (and grandmother), it takes off from Avery and her huge crush on him. I really enjoyed the author's writing style, the humor element made me laugh so much! It's pretty neat, if you ask me. Descriptions are okay, you can very well imagine all the characters, places and everything that's happening. I liked the clarity, though I wish there were more details, as the sequence sometimes seems to jump from one scene to the next very quickly. Still, if we categorize it as a 'light' read, it's good enough. :)

Coming to characters, I think I like Zellie best! I love her thoughts, the way she acts and handles all the mess and excitement thrown at her, the way she gets flustered and all lovey dovey whenever Avery is mentioned and most of all, her reactions are realistic, unlike in the case of some other characters. For instance, the adults! Zellie's mom and dad? Geez! I couldn't understand how they could simply ignore their kid and in the case of her dad, actually get scared of her abilities when things went wrong. That was weird. Also the sudden change in emotions. Avery, Zellie's mom and dad, disregarding Zellie one moment and when it turns out she wasn't at fault, they're suddenly by her side. Kind of makes it feel unreal. Otherwise I love Claire, Zellie's BFF and Melody, her sister too. 

I found the story intriguing, though. What started as a high school love story, very quickly turned into a fantasy tale with interesting twists and turns. What I liked the most was how Avery was still an important element in the story and it didn't turn into a completely different sphere like it seemed it might. The events in Portland where Zellie, Mel and Claire go to Aunt Hazel seemed interesting to me, they were different and introduced new characters who, I hope, would be in the sequels. The book would keep you hooked on to it till the end, I'm sure of it. The flow's such that you can easily read it all in a go (and Kindle books anyway are read faster, don't you think? ;) ). It's fun, a light book filled with teen love, fantasies and future-telling abilities!  And of course, the cover! *beautiful*

Recommended for: Teens, Young Adult readers, YA fantasy readers and those looking for a light read! :)

PS- I just saw, the Kindle book is free on Amazon (click here. Grab it fast! ;) 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Bookish updates!

Hello people! Hello blog! Apologies for the long absence. Believe me, I was still stalking the blogosphere even if I wasn't writing anything. Long time no review, so I thought I'd make some updates on what I've been up to. Well first, I've been quite busy with college. Still am, but I was thinking, why make it as an excuse? True, it's been a bummer all along and it's making me read less than I'd like to, but it's my responsibility to stop it from being a spoilsport, right? ;) (Does this explain why I'm here, writing this, instead of going through those horrendous notes on what remotely resembles Greek as I think I have a test tomorrow? :P )

Anyway, I got some amay-zzing books recently. Some as birthday gifts, some borrowed from the library, some impulse purchases, and I won a book too! As I haven't really made my 'Recent Book Grabs' post for quite some months, I think I'll put the whole pile here (yeah, I'm going through some major craziness-hike situation). Don't freak out if it seems huge, it's the past few months' collection! 

Three of these are from the library (Spitfire, The Mermaid Chair and Fahrenheit 451). 
I got the Vampire Academy books, Life of Pi, Bartimaeus andddd INSURGENT on my birthday! (Thank you awesome family and friends!). 7 books have been the courtesy of Random House publishers, The Wildings from, some purchases that were recommended and well, you see the pile! ;)

Next, I totally loved Breaking Dawn part II movie! Eeeep! I have honestly, not been much of a Twilight fan and I loved the last book the most, just because it had new characters, suspense, twists, action and a happy ending. I love books with these elements! The movie definitely stood out from the rest, it was beautiful, the characters were awesome (Renesmee!! OMG *cuteness*) and Bella as a vampire is great. It's when this series ends that you realize how it's all wrapped up nicely, how things happened and why they happened. Pretty. :) 

And oh that song 'A Thousand Years' by Christina Perri! *drooling!* It's so "awwwww" :D See if you still haven't! 

I also happened to be totally excited to watch the movie, Life of Pi, considering I'm reading the book. I wanted to first finish the book and then watch the movie, but I really wasn't getting the time to read more than 10 pages a day and with adequate background of the story, I went and saw it! I don't know what others feel about it, but I loved it. I'm generally a sickler for books-turned-movies and always find them awesome, but this one story is really 'profound'. I just don't have any other word for it. Makes you appreciate your life all the more and makes you believe in things you never thought could happen! I'd recommend this movie. :) 

And oh! A Jack Reacher movie is coming out in December! Based on Lee Child's crime mysteries, it's a movie featuring Jack Reacher (portrayed by Tom Cruise!), the fictional hero. Do watch it! 

Finally, a couple of people (or more) have, at some point written to me as to how they've been reading this blog and getting to know about a lot of books and that I'm 'influencing them to read books based on these reviews'. Well, let me begin by saying that this is what makes me truly happy! I know how bad it is when you like reading and you have that yearning for more but none around you feel that way. Or how they call you a 'dreamer' and laugh at your fantasies. But what I think is, one shouldn't just let them get the better of you. Read even more, do what you say you'd like to do, create things, laugh with them. You'll be happy because you wouldn't have any regret and honestly, you wouldn't care if they don't understand. Some people just don't get it. ;) So if you feel bummed about how your friends don't read, you do. Start a blog and interact with people online who do read. I've read loads more than I did earlier, just because I started this blog. It's amazing, really how such a small wonder can change the course of things. Just try it once, no? :)

Hope to get back soon with another review!

Happy reading! :)


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