Book Review: We Were Liars

We Were LiarsWe Were Liars by E. Lockhart
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

You’ll either love this story, or hate it. Love the writing style, or despise it. I guarantee you this : this book will take you to your extremities. So you’ll need to buckle up.

Needless to say (you can see my rating after all)… I ADORED this book.

Guess the fact that this is the first book review I’ve written in over a year adds substance to the above statement.

We were liars is… a broken story about a broken girl narrated with broken cadence. And like a sly wink from the author, Cadence is our protagonist with the broken memories and a life torn apart.

Cadence, her two cousins Johnny and Mirren, and their Indian American friend Gat are the Liars, and theirs is a bond that began in Summer Eight (they all are the same age). Every summer, the entire Sinclair family convenes in their family island, and the Liars are reunited. But something went wrong in Summer Fifteen.

Something that Cadence is trying to recall.

But memory can be a bitch.

I’m not going to be spoilerish, and I’m not going to ‘Lie’ as the blurb asks me to. In fact, a piece of advice forget about the blurb and the lies. Delve into a brilliantly imaginative but broken mind. And you’ll find that the narration is such a pleasure.

Whimsical.
Satirical.
Cruel, even.

It dragged me in, and when I resurfaced in the end, I was crying and grinning at the same time.

We Were Liars deserves a five and a resounding applause. E. Lockhart, you brought me back into the reading world. Thank you!

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Book Review: The Fine Art of Truth or Dare


The Fine Art of Truth or Dare by Melissa Jensen

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Date of finishing: 23rd Jan 2013
Recommended for: NO ONE.

The Fine Art of Truth or Dare

Truth: I found the title very interesting.
Truth: I thought the cover picture was adorable.
Truth: I shouldn’t have read this one. Really.

There is this thing about expectations – when something falls short, it really breaks your heart. This book came very close to breaking my heart – good thing I stop expecting things halfway!

The story started off beautifully. First when Edward Willing was mentioned, I first balked… After all, Twilight has jinxed the name for me and I began thinking why any author would take the risk of naming their protagonist so… And then came this part and I loved it:

Truth: Edward Willing died in 1916.

Na, that doesn’t make me morbid – it just made me think that this story might just get interesting. Especially with all those potentially humorous situations of a Willing Girl.
WRONG.

The hero is Alex-who-is-not-Alexander-but-Alexei. The heroine is scarred (literally and figuratively) and suffers from major complex. And they have no story. This story could have been about growth. This story could have featured the girl taking up a Dare when it actually mattered. This story could have had haunted artists and haunting artists (or that may be just wishful thinking). It unfortunately has none of those.

I have no idea what Alex has to recommend for himself. And the sad thing is that even Ella herself couldn’t answer that one. All we know about him is that he is hot, and 6 ft tall. Is that even a description? I have no idea how he looks like. At least we have some visual cues about Ella – long hair, timid and invisible personality so I figure I’d never really see her face if I ever even tried to imagine her. I just don’t feel like doing that – she’s a huge waste of time. I like the best friends, though, who never really got their own space in this half baked story. I’d like to know what actually went behind Sadie’s voluminous clothes, if Frankie really bounced back every time he failed in love. And ironically, the person I like the best is the scarcely mentioned Daniel, the Frankie’s-twin-gangster-dude.

The only thing realistic about the story was Ella’s family. It was loud, loving and bossy just like every closely knitted family and it was the only thing that kept me going in this story. Because frankly speaking the story really didn’t end up anywhere. Why wasn’t there any plot, dammit?!

What happened about Anna! Why didn’t Sienna’s fiancé/husband get a scene? Why wasn’t Alex given a life, dammit? Why was he the hero? Till the last moment I was hoping the author would change her mind and give Daniel the spotlight, unexpectedly making him the hero! And the most important question – why did Ella exist at all? Because I believe every story comes up for a reason – for the love of a character, for the passion for some plot, or for vengeance or justice. I found no story at all in this one – just dry make-belief conversations.

I suggest you do not read this. Please.

I really do hate negative reviews :/

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Book Review: North and South

North and SouthNorth and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dear North and South

Ah, sweet sweet book – why did I postpone reading you for so long! For 10 days you remained unread on my shelf, stuck at a mere 12% progress. I admit your length daunted me, but it was more apprehension than anything else. I had loved the TV adaptation, and I feared you would fall short.

And you did not.

I’m so happy, so giddy, that I persevered and finished you today. You’re everything I adore in period books. I love your version of Thornton, Margaret, Mrs Thornton, Mrs Hale so so much better – and that’s really saying something because I adored the TV characters. Though maybe the Higgins character was better shown on-screen – in my opinion at least. Every single character in the book was so lovingly portrayed, so lifelike, I’m still basking in the afterglow.

North and South is a book to be savoured. Being originally a serialised novel, it is slow-paced, but poignant in it’s every sentence. The slow pace itself gives us the opportunity to get familiar with the characters, and cheer on as they grow and mature. We fall in love with them, and enjoy their triumphs, grieve at their loss. We root for them to find happiness, to fall in love, to acknowledge that love.

BBC TV Series: North and South (2004)

BBC TV Series: North and South (2004)

John Thornton and Margaret Hale – behold one of the most passionate couples in the Literary world. It’s a shame they aren’t household names like Elizabeth Bennet and Darcy; I’m grateful to the North and South TV series that introduced this story to me. The ending was rushed a bit – from what I gather, I have the great Mr Charles Dickens (Author Elizabeth Gaskell’s mentor) is to be blamed for it. But this book is worth every page, and I can guarantee Jane Austen fans that they can find an author to obsess over after this book. I have, to be sure.

Verdict: Definitely a 5 star book 🙂

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Book Review: Parallel Visions

Parallel Visions (A Teen Psychic Novel, #1)Parallel Visions by Cheryl Rainfield

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This one felt too short to be called a novel – honestly speaking it would be a novella. But its sweetness makes up for the length.

What would you risk to save your loved one’s life? If the way you could prevent disasters was to send yourself to the face of danger, would you do it? And if you could see visions… does that mean there’s something wrong with you?

The story is meant for a younger audience – early teens probably – and the writing shows. It might have irritated me had not the writing really worked for the story line.

Verdict: 3.5 stars, short and sweet

*Book provided for honest review by NetGalley*

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Book Review: Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

The Sea of TranquilityThe Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When you think about it, The Sea of Tranquility isn’t actually a sea; just a long stretch of barren land named so with great hopes of hospitality. Just like the Cape of Good Hope is. What you are called isn’t what that matters… It’s what you really are that’s important. The Shakespeare quote about names, and roses, is inevitable but yet so clichéd, I’d rather not use it. So you, my friend, just say it in your mind, and pretend I really typed it here:

“…………………………………” 😀 Tada!

So, back to the point. Nastya’s story is so like the misleadingly named Lunar landform, that the book’s title was perfect.

Her name was Nastya. Does that mean she’s Russian? Does her nationality make any difference? Nastya was a girl broken; she left behind everyone to escape her past. Josh was a boy always left behind; and left broken. When they did meet, of course it wasn’t love at first sight. But they let the other be. And in the process, were for them in return.

Reading about them was like watching someone bake a cake (and I say WATCH because I do not bake…that are tasty. They just turn out to be edible but that’s not the point). It was slow, sometimes arduous, but interesting. A dash thrilling too. You know, a really nice cake on the way – given the whole lot of issues they have, a bittersweet one. It was a ride topsy and turvy, a bundle of emotional turmoil. And I loved every moment of all. What started as a girl’s silent scream and a boy’s deadzone led to an ascent and at the cresceno, the pain was acknowledged… and released.

Emotionally charged and beautifully written, it gets a wholly deserved 5 star rating 🙂

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Book Review: Point of Retreat

Point of Retreat by Colleen Hoover

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Point of Retreat -Colleen Hoover

I loved it I loved it
I butterflying loved it
Not just because I hoped to
Not just because I wanted to
BUT because it was life
And in the end it is all there is.

I loved it because it had will
I loved it because it had Will
And Lake
And Gavin and Eddie
Because sometimes friends make up family
Because friends make up life
And in the end it is all there is.

I loved it because it had will
I loved it because it had Will
And his POV
I got to know him even more
I got to love him ever more.
You know when you meet someone like him
You know it’s forever

Not twenty five and parents of two
Tell me if you won’t break down
Tell me if YOUR life wouldn’t intrude
Their’s did, yet didn’t
They faced life
They accepted it
They got accepted.

You ask what was the point of this book.
Well I loved it more than Slammed
And I don’t give a flying Butterfly if you think I’m mad
Sometimes a Butterflying kiss in the end isn’t enough
Ask Sherry about it
Ask Julia about it.
Go ask them and see if they give you
A flying butterfly.

I loved it I loved it
I butterflying loved it
Look, Colleen Hoover
You had me slamming
Yeah this is me slamming
For the very first time
For the first butterflying time
I haven’t cursed so much in my whole life
But now I know when life goes wrong
I’ll be able to look it straight in its eye
And say BUTTERFLY you

Thank you, Colleen Hoover
For giving us
Slammed

And Point of Retreat
For giving us Lake
And Will
And Eddie
And Gavin
And Kel
And Caulder
And Julia
And Sherry
And Kiersten
For giving us a wonderful story to root for
A few more beautiful hours in my life
Because in the end it is all there is.

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Book Review: Gone With The Wind

Gone With The Wind cover image

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After a long, long time I had a marathon-reading-session like this and I never enjoyed this much. After 14 hours of chasing Scarlett O’Hara’s escapades in Gone With The Wind, my heart is still thundering, and I’m still mournfully and gravely shaking my wise old head over the stubborn-est couple I ever met in print.

I’m a big Historical Romance fan and I realized that Gone With The Wind was the mother of all HR’s I’ve read till now, and I don’t refer to its length. The details, the plot, the writing, the stating of the bald truth – it’s incomparable. At the hands of any other writer, I would have disliked Scarlett and would probably have stopped reading. But now, after finding her self-centered and vain, childish, cruel, delusional, and then morph into strong, determined and as modern as one could be in the 1860-70s and then pitying her for never really opening her eyes, I now wonder at Margaret Mitchell’s ability to wrench such intense reactions.

Sometimes Frank sighed, thinking he had caught a tropic bird, all flame and jewel color, when a wren would have served him just as well. In fact, much better.

~ Excerpt from Gone With The Wind

Scarlett was exactly what Mitchell claims – an inexplicable woman, an exotic bird, who was a deadly combination of stubborn childishness and a passionate ruthlessness of a woman who has known her lowest. It was that combination that dragged her out of hell; it was that combination that doomed her love life. She was inherently selfish, but she loved and hated with passion. The stubborn, selfish child refused to distinguish between love and fantasy, while the ruthlessness led her to hide her emotions, driving the nail on her coffin as the universally declared heartless womanMitchell had given us a premonition that this was going to happen to Scarlett:

“Child, it’s a very bad thing for a woman to face the worst that can happen to her, because after she’s faced the worst she can’t ever really fear anything again. And it’s very bad for a woman not to be afraid of something.(…) God intended women to be timid frightened creatures and there’s something unnatural about a woman who isn’t afraid… Scarlett, always save something to fear—even as you save something to love… ”

~ Excerpt from Gone With The Wind

A Scarlett who had faced her worst became a fanatic about making money and securing her future, and that very fearlessness that she had been warned about let her achieve what she wanted, or thought she wanted. She gained universal contempt and dislike for working and going beyond the boundary lines of feminity. She was hated because she succeeded in those endeavors. Her contemporaries failed to understand her like she failed to understand them, and they viewed her ruthlessness with as much contempt as she viewed their wounded pride.

While she succeeded in her business, Scarlett hardly made any breakthroughs in personal relationships. Scarlett was ruthless and cunning yes, but she lacked in the cranial department. Or maybe that can partly be attributed to self-absorption. She didn’t understand a lot of things, and just didn’t care. She didn’t understand herself, she didn’t understand Melanie, she didn’t understand Ashley, she didn’t understand Rhett. However that didn’t stop her from blindly judge people and everyone other than her imagined love fell short of her regard. And some regard it was, with her manipulating him like she did everyone else. She refused to see, preferring to make money to secure her safety. But cash is a cold bed partner, and so Scarlett discovered.

She was a person who was never universally loved; as a young woman she was the country belle and the object of envy for the other debutantes; she was always too beautiful and unconventional thus generating censure; her business venture followed by her marriage to Rhett Butler permanently damned her. But she had never courted public opinion and had never cared, until a tragedy ripped her life away. Or rather, three tragedies that fell one after one. Bonnie’s death, Melanie’s death, death of Rhett’s love. And understanding, as much as Scarlett could be capable of, came too late.

Everybody knew how cold and heartless she was. Everybody was appalled at the seeming ease with which she had recovered from Bonnie’s death, never realizing or caring to realize the effort that lay behind that seeming recovery. Rhett had the town’s tenderest sympathy and he neither knew nor cared. Scarlett had the town’s dislike and, for once, she would have welcomed the sympathy of old friends.

~Excerpt from Gone With The Wind

She was a dynamic woman – her character growing and evolving from vain and pretty to a strong woman, but I wish she had more foresight, or more intelligence. For al her character growth, maybe it wasn’t enough. Or maybe it wasn’t fast enough…

Gone With The Wind narrates two different kinds of strong feminity – Scarlett’s loud one and Melanie’s quiet one. Melanie was a woman who was sheltered, but who refused to balk at the prospect of hard work. She never was loud, but she defended what she believed in. She never courted good favour; she had an innate goodness that looked for the best in others. I’ll let Mitchell describe her:

(…) she always saw the best in everyone and remarked kindly upon it. There was no servant so stupid that she did not find some redeeming trait of loyalty and kind-heartedness, no girl so ugly and disagreeable that she could not discover grace of form or nobility of character in her, and no man so worthless or so boring that she did not view him in the light of his possibilities rather than his actualities. Because of these qualities that came sincerely and spontaneously from a generous heart, everyone flocked about her, for who can resist the charm of one who discovers in others admirable qualities undreamed of even by himself?

~Excerpt from Gone With The Wind

When Reconstruction led to further upheavals in Atlanta, Melanie became a leader without wanting to, without realizing how it happened. It’s even probable that she never did realized exactly how much she meant to the community.

It’s a curious thing, Harry, but perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it.

~Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Maybe it can be measured by the fact that her goodwill outweighed the town’s contempt of Scarlett. The two sisters-in-laws who were strong enough to elicit strong reactions out of people. Melanie might seem slightly naïve, but her genuinity evokes respect, not pity.

Ashley, however, evoked little more than impatience and anger from me. I won’t ask what Scarlett saw in him because it’s perfectly clear: she saw what she wanted to see. Her painted hero was simple in her brain, but the two male protagonists were complex men. Ashley loved his books but knew duty and honour. But I couldn’t respect him much because he didn’t stand by his convictions, not like the other three protagonists. He didn’t realize he had loved Melanie all along till she was in her death bed, and I maintain that Melanie deserved much better. Ashley’s indecisiveness killed the love between two couples – Rhett and Scarlett, Melanie and himself.

Rhett Butler broke my heart. He was another victim of Scarlett, and like all others, broken in the end. He was the swash-buckling pirate, the exciting bad man in a town of gallant gentlemen who like all others, fell in love, and then had his heart broken. He saw right through Scarlett, and still loved her and I respect him highly for that. He loved a woman who loved (or thought she loved) another. I still can’t understand what it was in Scarlett that made him wait for her for thirteen years. How does unrequited love last that long?

But, Scarlett, did it ever occur to you that even the most deathless love could wear out?

That line broke my heart and I cried for these two stubborn people. At first I felt bewildered – I chase this whirlwind of a story for fourteen wild hours and the ending is heading toward a tragedy. And as I encountered this sentence I tried scrolling down to realize I couldn’t:

“I’ll think of it all tomorrow, at Tara. I can stand it then. Tomorrow, I’ll think of some way to get him back. After all, tomorrow is another day.”

I felt totally betrayed when I finally realized that the book had indeed come to an end and it wasn’t just that my copy was incomplete or corrupted. I immediately went online to check if there were sequels. There are, but not by the original author. Cheated and betrayed, I find that hope springs eternal. Because I can still look forward to a better future for the stubborn, headstrong Butlers. They are mind-boggling, they are refreshing. And they have left me sated… and hungry for more.

 

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Book Review: Forever by Maggie Stiefvater (Wolves of Mercy Falls #3)

Forever (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, #3)Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I finished the last book in the ‘Wolves of Mystic Falls’ series, I loved it, in a whimsical, bittersweet kind of way. A story can’t stop being sweet when it has characters like the lyrical, quiet Sam and the practical, supporting Grace and even the strong, recovering Cole. And likewise it can’t stop being slightly bitter, with all the vitriol leaking out of Isabel’s insecure core. This is a story that portrays love, love that actually is understandable. There are the two couples: Sam and Grace loving each other with absolute faith, while Cole and Isabel wistfully wonder if they’ll ever be worthy of that kind of love – and if they’ll ever be able to love somebody that way.

Forever ended the series, it’s true, but the story still feels incomplete, appealing to the reader’s involvement in imagination. Who will end up as the real pack leader: the living-by-code Sam or the larger than life Cole? Isabel and Cole’s story is incomplete too, and I wonder if there’ll be a spin-off book/series later on. But it’s obvious that there was no way they’d have had a happily ever after in the timeline of this series. Both of them had lots of bitterness to shed, lots of self-reevaluation to do. By the end of the series, Cole has already made his peace with his life and loves Sam and Grace enough to sacrifice his life for them. While Isabel has just reached the beginning of healing and loves Grace and Sam, and I think Cole too (whose “death” she blames on myself) to stop her father from killing the rest of the wolves. So at the end of the story, Sam has gotten over his past and healed himself; Grace has decided to risk death like Sam had, to stop changing to wolf; Cole has survived the bullet wound and busy with handling the pack; and Isabel has moved to California, where I believe she’s doing better.

And as a bonus, the rabid werewolf who was the cause of the wolf hunt, is killed by Cole.

The wolves are safe. For now.

So see how the story feels haunting, a bit incomplete? I’m holding out for another sequel, but you know, sometimes, it’s better to end a story early than after it drags on.

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