Thursday, June 4, 2020

#BookReview : Every Reason We Shouldn't (Every Reason We Shouldn't #1) by Sara Fujimura

Genre: Romance, Young Adult, Contemporary, Sports, Fiction, Teen, Cultural
Rating : 3.5 / 5

: Contains family expectations, delightful banter, great romantic tension, skating (all kinds!), Korean pastries,and all the feels.

Fifteen year old, biracial figure skater Olivia Kennedy’s Olympic dreams have ended. She's bitter, but enjoying life as a regular teenager instead of an athlete... until Jonah Choi starts training at her family's struggling rink. Jonah's driven, talented, going for the Olympics in speed skating, completely annoying... and totally gorgeous. Between teasing Jonah, helping her best friend try out for roller derby,figuring out life as a normal teen and keeping the family business running, Olivia's got her hands full. But will rivalry bring her closer to Jonah, or drive them apart?

I recently watched a show with Ice sports as backdrop so I was very interested to read this book. When I started reading Every reason We shouldn't , It took me about one third of the book to get hooked to the story. It was not because the story wasn't interesting. I did love all the practice sessions and the match scenes. They are written beautifully and very engaging for any reader to follow through the routine even if you have no idea of the terms of the sports. I liked to read the story of teenagers who are practicing their asses off to reach their goals and it is not a rosy picture at all. I appreciated that the author kept so many sequences and plot close to real for these kids - the expectations , the difference in normal life, the pain and the disappointments are as important to know as the joys of winning.

My favorite character in the book is Mack, who makes a mistake in her teenage years but has never given up on herself. She works hard , plays harder and is a amazing friend to Olivia in every way. She has her own problems to solve with the father of her little girl but she never once blames anyone for her situation and is the smartest , kindest and most inspiring person in the whole story.

Jonah's friendship with Olivia and the romance that follows is sweet and very fun read. It has all the sparks , the charms and butterflies in stomach kind of cuteness when they are together. It was good to see that side of both of them and that kept me going on with the story.

But when we you start digging into the smaller details , the book also disappointed me. My biggest issue was with Olivia being very inconsistent in her behave and she was mostly very bitter and stubborn for her own good. I could understand her frustrations most of the time but the way she looked down upon other people around her was not fair either. I felt her bitterness was more from being jealous than being upset about where she was at that given point and it was not anyone's fault.
She herself realizes that her last performance with her best friend Stuart was not at all up to the mark and it deserved the criticism it got. She has all the chances to improve but it keeps getting sidelined by her family & personal drama. Together Jonah & Olivia are not good to other kids in her school while their friends are quite nice and appreciative of their achievements. Stuart was supposed to be the best friend / brother to Olivia but he was not at all considerate or respectful to Olivia most times.

The book definitely could have been better but it was still a decent read for weekend if you want to read of sports related YA.

GR | Amazon | Kobo | Google books

SARA FUJIMURA is an award-winning young adult author and creative writing teacher. She is the American half of her Japanese- American family, and has written about Japanese culture and raising bicultural children for such magazines as Appleseeds, Learning Through History, East West, and Mothering, as well as travel-related articles for To Japan With Love.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Malayalam Crime Thriller: Pradhamadrishtya (Primafacie)

'Pradhamadrishtya' is a malayalam Crime Thriller by Nikhilesh Menon. It tries to unravel the mystery behind the disappearance of Riya Susan and her husband.

If You wish to buy the book, order here.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Review: Kingdom Above the Cloud by Maggie Platt

What if the nine Fruit of the Spirit and the Seven Deadly Sins were locked in a battle for control? 

Abandoned as infants, Tovi and her twin brother were raised by an eclectic tribe of warm, kind people in a treehouse village in the valley. After her brother’s sudden disappearance Tovi questions her life and her faith in an invisible King. Ignoring her best friend Silas’ advice, she decides to search for her brother in the kingdom on top of the mountain. 

Above the cloud, the Council of Masters receive their orders. Tovi and her brother are the objectives. King Damien has a plan and Tovi is the key. The Council of Masters want her, but will she remain unscathed? Amidst the glamour of the kingdom above the cloud Tovi is torn between her own dark desires and unanswered questions.

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Allegory 

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review: Kingdom above the cloud is categorized as a Christian fiction story but I did not feel it to have any influence on my reading experience. Perhaps the story has some references to old tales from the Bible but as a non-christian reader, I read this book as a fantasy fiction and I enjoyed it. 

The story starts with King Damien, ruling the kingdom from above the clouds (Mount Damien), trying to avoid a prophecy of his downfall be seeking a person from the world below the cloud (Adia) . His intention is to find his mentor turned enemy Adwin who is worshipped as a God in Adia and in the lower ring of Mount Damien too. There are old legends, stories, and rumors about Adwin but no one seems to know the true person or reasons for his disappearance from Mount Damien. There are places where you can draw the parallels between Adwin & God(s) you believe in, irrespective of your religion. This flexibility to interpret the story and to be able to like it was one of the unique things about this book.

The story pushes forward as we follow a lost young woman Tovi who has felt a lot of unhappiness in life and with no one to lean on, she has a lot of resentment towards Adwin. It does not help that in her stubbornness and naivety, she does not recognize the love and care she had received in Adia after being abandoned by her parents along with her twin brother. When she falls for the trap set by King Damien's council of masters and leaves Adia for seeking answers from Mount Damien, she will have to learn on her own whether to fall for the stories & lessons imparted to her by Damien or to seek strength from the stories taught to her by her adoptive parents and best friend. 

As pieces start falling in place for the prophecy to come true and King Damien trying to change it , we see changes in people's loyalty and how it is reflected in their appearance and thoughts. 

The world-building , the writing, the characters, and the various mysteries are all done beautifully in the book. I was able to finish the book in less than a day as the story was too intriguing from the beginning. I could relate to the thoughts on faith, pain & suffering and in unconditional love as it aligns with my personal beliefs but it is not too hard to ignore that and read it as a normal fiction. I am eagerly looking forward to meeting Tovi & Adwin again in next book.  

Book Links: GR | Amazon | Google Books

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Saturday, May 16, 2020

#BookReview: Ground Rules by Richard Whittle

Ground Rules Ground Rules by Richard Whittle
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Called out one night in the hope that she can identify the body of a man found in a field, Edinburgh forensic geologist Jessica Spargo (Jez) inadvertently becomes involved in the investigation of a university lecturer's murder. The investigating officer, Tom Curtis, hands her a small glass vial and asks her to analyze its contents. The results confound everyone.

An object discovered beneath a construction site shocks everyone, including the police. Employed by the firm's owner to attempt to solve the mystery, Jez falls foul of an uncooperative site manager. Unruffled, she perseveres. To Jez's dismay, there are more deaths. As she says to Curtis, 'I don't do bodies. I'm a geologist, I look at rocks. If I'd wanted to look at bits of the body I would have become a surgeon or a pathologist.' Yet she keeps digging ...

Review: One of the reasons I wanted to read this book was that the subject matter was quite intriguing and very unique. The book shows author's knowledge of the same quite clearly. I had some trouble getting into the story in the beginning when we have a lot of geological information is discussed by the characters. It can make one think that the story might be too detail-oriented to follow easily. Please do not let go of the story so soon because things do get smoother and the characters take over the plot to make it more engaging. There are different kinds of investigation going on within the story - police procedure, geological explorations, adventures based on old maps and such. 

I also struggled a little with very little background on Jez & Curtis. In fact, theirs was quite a hot & cold sort of relationship which I found a little inconsistent. From this book I wished I would have liked a little more light on the first case where they met because of Jez's father [ which I realized is a prior book by the author and I am equally intrigued to read it now ]

But once I had crossed the part where both the cases are revealed and Jez is involved, I followed her investigation and her questions closely. It was fascinating to know that ground we see or walk on daily has so much going on below it and how it was like an integral character to the storyline. Jez might appear as a little arrogant but hats off to her for having the patience to deal with all the men around her with their personal bias and attitudes. She is curious, hard-working, respectful of others but she also very humane in showing her weakness when she refuses to handle bones and such stuff or think of dead bodies in any situation. This made me bond with her more because none of it stops her sense of justice and fighting for the victim. She is not perfect but is a damn admirable female lead and I would like to read more of her series.

I liked all the secondary characters in the book but I totally loved Jez's old colleague Andy. I wish he appears more in other books of Jez & Curtis and plays a bigger role in the investigation with his internet friends. Also, can we please have more of Cavendish working with Jez than Curtis. Cavendish sounded a fun police guy from this book. 

Overall, this was an enjoyable read for me as an introduction to Jez's world. 

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Wednesday, May 6, 2020

#BookReview : The Colossus of Roads by Christina Uss

Eleven-year-old Rick Rusek is determined to improve the traffic conditions in Los Angeles- his parent's failing delivery catering service, Smotch, depends on it. 

 "Traffic is a puzzle with one correct solution. And I've got to solve it!"

Rick has been studying maps and traffic patterns for years and devises solutions to improve Los Angeles' notoriously terrible traffic that he calls his Snarl Solutions. He has big ideas, but not enough resources-- until his artistic friend, Mila brings him to a Girl Scout meeting.

The scouts paint recycled traffic signs with their own designs. The signs will be hung all over Los Angeles to beautify the city with art. But Rick, The Colossus of Roads, has ulterior motives ..


Review: Once in a  while it is so refreshing to look at the world from the eyes of children who not only have amazing ideas but also the conviction to act on them, no matter how tough the task looks. 

Rick's passion to study traffic patterns, maps, and to plot solutions to make traffic system better for everyone is infectious and impressive. You feel as passionate about something that you never paid attention to before perhaps. And suddenly you look at this as a puzzle and want to figure out it along with Rick. It also made me appreciate the fact that different people have a different way to look at things and it does not have to do anything with one's age. Every person needs to be respected and heard for the good that they can bring to this world.

Though initially, it felt like Rick is too obsessed with improving the traffic that he does not look at others around him. But, he turns out to be a really good friend and a boy with a real golden heart. He is shy and troubled by a stomach that can not survive long car rides but it also acts as his voice of reason, motivation, and caution combined. It was too hilarious to read those conversations and to imagine Rick's plight every time he thought of a car ride. 

the painting project by the Girls scout was interesting for me and appealed to me more because I like art & craft as a hobby at times. It was an important part of Rick's plan but it was also good to see him have fun in his own way there. 

The book also showcases the whole community as an entity and how people come together in times of crisis even though their individual interests might have put them on opposite sides earlier. And such cute groups that too. 

I so loved reading the Middle-Grade book and it was the perfect read to brighten my weekend. I would recommend it for both kids and adults alike. 

Book Links : GR | Amazon | Google books | iTunes  | Kobo

About the author: Christina Uss has ridden her bicycle across the United States both lengthwise and widthwise, and has worked as an adventure tour guide in fifteen states, leading cyclists of all ages through various mountains’ majesty and all kinds of fruited plains. Even more than pedaling across state lines, Christina loves books, especially ones that remind us all that the world is wonderful, weird place. She lives in Western Massachusetts with her family and will always wave hello if she sees you out riding.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Review: Love, Marriage, and Other Disasters by Shilpa Suraj

Love, Marriage, and Other Disasters
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Alisha Rana is not your typical single desi girl. For one, she is on the wrong side of 30. For another, she is divorced. Alisha doesn’t want much. But what she does want is that elusive thing all women search for – A man who gets her…but a man who gets her hot! She calls it “feeling the squiggle.”

Enter Dr. Vivaan Kapoor, cute, hot, squiggle-worthy. The younger brother of her cousin's prospective groom, he’s got the squiggle factor in spades. The only catch? He's never been married and is years younger than Alisha. Basically, completely off-limits.

The story starts with a date going very wrong and I immediately felt a kinship with Alisha who still managed to keep her sense of humor intact, even if it borders on sarcasm. But to be fair, the world deserves it most times. Her relationship with her best friend, her colleagues, and even with the girl who is so mean to her, all reflect her good nature and sensibility. She has an excellent rapport with her parents and relatives too and maybe that is why I also understood her doubts about the one guy who makes her feel special but in her head, he is totally off-limits. 

Vivaan is an early-achiever, kind, fun, and charming person who falls in love with Alisha from the first time he sees her. It is really bittersweet to see him try to woo Alisha every possible way and still be rejected only because Alisha has convinced herself that Vivaan is not the right person to marry even if he is the one guy who makes her "feel the squiggle".

Love, Marriage, and other disasters is a very realistic and appropriate story of love & marriage as perceived through society's glasses and how it shapes people's choices. It is a story of how past relations can make us unsure of our decisions in the future for a long time but accepting and acknowledging the same is the first step to be free. There are lot of small scenes in the story which are very commonly seen and heard in real life and they drive the story forward beautifully. 

I really liked this story and would love to read more about one of the characters in the book that plays a very pivotal role in cementing the love story of Alisha & Vivaan. 

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Saturday, April 18, 2020

#FaeFriday #WeeklyTag : Books that create different reality

Fae Friday is an awesome new weekly post created by Kristy at Caffeinated Fae.

Here are the rules:

  • Link back to this page on Caffeinated Fae.
  • If the prompt idea comes from another blog, link to that blog as well.
  • Use #FaeFriday when posting to social media so we can all find each other!
  • Participate when you can and have fun with the prompt!

This week’s topic is about glamours — Faeries have been known to create glamours that make the ordinary see a different reality.

This week’s prompt is: What is a book that was so realistic it made you question reality?

For me, books about other books are somewhat like a puzzle inside the puzzle. You are on one journey with the book you have in hand and then there is another book that is a portal into a world inside a world. So I thought of the book "Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz"  

This is a story of Daniel, who comes across a mysterious book Shadow of the Wind by one Julian Carax. When Daniel tried to search other books by the author he finds that there are no books by Carax left anywhere. Someone has been destroying all is works and Daniel might be having the last copy of any Carax books. Thus begins Daniel's quest to both save his book and to find about Caraz and the person destroying his books. 

The story moves at a really good pace and is also kind of spooky in its setting. There is a library of forgotten books, secrets in Carax life and the person destroying his books has same name as one of Carax's characters.  The author builds a befitting atmosphere for all the stories around the book, the author, Daniel's life. Only when one reaches the end, you realize how much time has passed. This book totally transported me into the book inside the book and I had a really weird reality shift while rushing to finish the book. This was an amazing read for me and I still have smiles thinking about it. 

Friday, April 17, 2020

#BookReview: The Flatshare by Beth O'Leary

The Flatshare
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have always loved stories that flow as messages - letters , emails , texts and here it were mostly post-it notes.

Tiffy & Leon enter an unusual arrangement - To share a flat.  Tiffy would get to use the flat when Leon is away working the night shifts and spending weekends with his girlfriend.  Tiffy gets a nice place to stay at a cheap price and Leon really needs the cash to help his brother. Since they do not meet each other , they start communjcation through the post-it notes for each other and soon the flat is all covered with these colorful messages and notes.

The book starts a little erratic because of the changing narration POV.  The author makes the reader believe in Leon's personality which will not be writing full sentences. He is a introvert guy and it reflects in his inner monologues and the messages he writes. Tiffy on the other is artistic , bright one with a really quirky wardrobe ,weirder decoration items for the flat and her messages are long and detailed and sometimes doodled too. I think this contrast makes their conversations more fun and real to read.

Gradually we see that behind the vibrant persona , Tiffy struggles with her insecurities and a stalkerish Ex who has hurt her real bad. The fact that his opinion still has a hold on this wonderful girl was so sad to read. Leon is very understanding and accommodating boyfriend material but is he in a good relationship is questionable. Then there is his brother's story that adds the drama to this book.

Overall I really enjoyed this love story that was indeed super cute to read. Without meeting each other , Tiffy & Leon become super involved in each other's life as a real couple would be and within the messages and food they share , it stops feeling odd that they have this arrangement. Their accidental meeting was as hilarious and cheeky , as if nothing less was expected. Their messages seem to add such a easy , fun feeling to their day to day events. Tiffy has amazing friends around her who totally deserve special mention for being the kind that we all should be like and have around in real life. They never feel overwhelming but are neither shy of saying their opinions about Tiffy and her life . Leon's patients are sweet addition and it was hilarious to hear their views on Tiffy & Leon's love life.

The story has a few trigger points in terms of gas-lighting & mental abuse in a relationship but it also serves as a reminder that such behave is never okay , no matter how the person tries to manipulate it in his favor.

This book was indeed a warm hug sort to my heart. I would totally re read it when i feel a little low.

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Thursday, April 9, 2020

Review: The Gilded King (Sovereign #1) by Josie Jaffrey

The Gilded King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I always like a good vampire story with a strong female cast thrown in the mix. that was the only reason I was immediately interested in The Gilded King. And also, the cover is really pretty. There is a missing vampire, a dedicated friend focussed on finding her and then there is a fairytale legend that looks just another story but is more loaded than that, as one realizes in the end.

The book starts with introducing us to this new world - the city called Blue which is a safe place to live and anything beyond its boundaries is Red. But Blue is not where Julia wants to spend her life. She does not want to be a server to the Nobles but rather would like to walk out of the Blue and find a different life for herself if only she was sure she would survive in Red. That is till she is made attendant to Lucas, a very young Noble who believes in fairytales and just might convince Julia about them. Out in Red, Cameron searches for a lost queen for decades and refuses to rest till he brings her back to Blue. And this search earns him some enemies, who are ready to bring the war to Blue finally.

Up till almost one fourth if the book, you meet all the pieces on the board that would be shaping up the plot later. Though one can never be sure whom to like, whom to trust in this story, the events taking place in Julia & Cameron's world never seem to be dull or forced at any point.  Once the book picks pace it goes quite smoothly and is a lot of fun to read. There is a hint of romance in the plot times but it is woven in the story so subtly and beautifully. All the additional characters are interesting and well fleshed throughout. There is a hint of grey shades in most characters that keep things exciting. The Gilded King is a brilliant mix of dystopian, fantasy and adventure elements in a single story. It stands proud on the friendship, loyalty, and humanity established in the story. This was a really wonderful read and I look forward to the sequel now.

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Monday, March 23, 2020

#BookReview: My Ride, I Love You by Patrick Rangimant

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A few months back while searching for new Asian dramas to watch, I came across a show in the BL (Boys Love) genre from Thailand. It is no secret that I like shows and books in BL genre a lot, so I ended up watching about a dozen BL series/movies since then. Since I keep an eye on the BL upcoming dramas, I came to know about My Ride the series which will be an adaptation of this book - My Ride, I Love you.
My Ride,I love You (MRILY)  started as twitter fiction and was later made into a full novel in the Thai language. Fortunately, the author decided to also release the English translation on Kindle before the series. 

MRILY is the story of Doctor Tawan and a motor-taxi driver Mork. Tawan meets Mork when he uses his motor-taxi to go to his boyfriend's place. As the visits become frequent, his conversations expand with Mork from pleasantries to other topics.  Gradually, they become friends and end up spending more time together. While Mork starts having feelings for Tawan, he never oversteps his boundaries and instead makes peace with just making Tawan happy and being inspired by his hard work.

MRILY is not a love story, but more a journey to reach the beginnings of the love story for all characters in the book. Since it was majorly set in a hospital, It was quite interesting to know of the personal life of the doctors/staff and appreciation for their efforts. It takes inspiration from author's own profession and life as a neurologist and made for a unique setting for me. All characters are fleshed out and have their own role in the story without any unnecessary drama. The progression from strangers to friends for Tawan and Mork are quite relatable and sweet. Their conversations with their respective best friends about love and their doubts give a lot of positive thoughts.

My favorite part was the FB page which Mork reads to find answers to questions of his heart. The posts/answers/thoughts of the admin of the page were something I had not read before regarding Love & relationship. For instance, on topic of one-sided love, Mork learns that instead of giving up or feeling bitter, he should just learn his position and make the other person happy from next to that person's heart, if not in that heart.

Kudos to the translator for the book to keep all the essence of setting, the casual banter, the cultural references intact throughout the book. The language is simple, the flow of the story is smooth throughout and even with an open ending ( or not ), this book is quite satisfying to read. Even though this is BL/ LGBT story, please be assured that there are no explicit scenes and the book can be read simply as a story on friendship and love and family.  I can not wait to see this as a live-action show now.

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Sunday, March 15, 2020

Review: Deadly Waters A Detective Jane Phillips Novel by O M J Ryan

Deadly Waters A Detective Jane Phillips Novel
by O.M.J. Ryan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Several young women have recently drowned in Manchester’s vast network of canals. A coincidence? Or something more sinister?
When star detective DCI Jane Phillips begins to investigate, her finely tuned instinct tells her these are no accidents. And when she discovers that each of the drowned women has a mysterious circular bruise on the back of her neck, Phillips is sure of it -- she’s up against a very clever serial killer.
But how are the victims being chosen? And who will be next?
With the body count rising, Phillips and her team find themselves in a fight to the death with a shadowy figure who always seems to be one step ahead.
Can Phillips stop the killer before the next victim dies? Or will she herself become an offering to Manchester’s deadly waters?

For most of the crime thrillers, the lead investigative officer and the team dynamics are the deciding factors for me in liking a book/series. This is the third book in the Detective Jane Phillips series but it can be read as a stand-alone. As the blurb says, it revolves around multiple killings of young women with similar life history & profile - something that Jane Phillips refuses to consider a mere coincidence from the get-go.

Her feelings and efforts to find answers and justice for the women was really inspiring. She is a likeable leader and the respect she gets from her team is admirable and looks very well earned. Every character, though new to the reader is fleshed appropriately so one gets comfortable with the story. the story proceeds in a logical manner and even a little cryptic, it never gets confusing.  Any time I thought I had the plot figured, the author threw a twist in the story. The book kept me hooked until the very last page.

There is not even a little detail placed unnecessarily or left unexplained in the end.   I spent the whole afternoon on finishing the last 40 per cent of the book in a single sitting. I enjoyed this police investigative thriller a lot. I am looking forward to reading the previous books having Jane Phillips as the lead now.

I would recommend this book to anyone who does not prefer much violence in their crime thriller books and a very good female lead. 

Hailing from Yorkshire, OMJ Ryan worked in radio and entertainment for over twenty years,
collaborating with household names and accumulating a host of international writing and radio awards.

In 2018 he followed his passion to become a full-time novelist, writing stories for people who devour exciting,
fast-paced thrillers by the pool, on their commute – or those rare moments of downtime before bed.
Owen’s mission is to entertain from the first page to the last. 
DEADLY WATERS will be his third novel published with Inkubator Books

Social Media:
Twitter: @OMJRYAN1

Purchase Links:

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#BookReview : Every Reason We Shouldn't (Every Reason We Shouldn't #1) by Sara Fujimura

Genre : Romance, Young Adult, Contemporary, Sports, Fiction, Teen, Cultural Rating : 3.5 / 5 Warning : Contains family expectations...