Verity by Colleen Hoover |Book Review

I’ve read like 4 or 5 books by Colleen Hoover and loved them all. She has this way with words that will tug you at all the right places and is most definitely my favourite author. With this book, she has unlocked one more achievement in writing – Creepy Suspense novels.

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My first reaction when I finished this book was – Holy Sh**$$%#T! Thats crazy!!.

The book is about a struggling, introvert writer Lowen Ashleigh who gets the opportunity to co-write the remaining series of an established, popular writer Verity Crawford who recently met with an accident. Lowen is approached by Verity’s publisher and her husband Jeremy Crawford with the offer and a non-disclosure agreement about not revealing Verity’s current state. Lowen is invited to the Crawfords house to take notes, gather plot details and single-handedly write the remaining books. Just before meeting with the publishers for the first time, Lowen meets Jeremy in an unexpected way that sparks something between them and is enough to kindle it during her stay in his home. Things take a darker turn as Lowen uncovers an unfinished autobiography of Verity in her study and things that were bound to stay hidden come into light.

I can’t explain how much creepy the writing was.. And it was a bad idea to read the book at night. My mind was like “Get OUT! Get OUT now!!. This book is twisted, revolting, fu*ks your mind, but keeps you engrossed.

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And I also must mention how cringe-y the sex scenes made me, like they were too much.. ugh.. And that CoHo herself teases about it through Lowen’s words. I can’t talk about the characters, because spoilers but like her other books, the characters are flawed.. I’m not sure how to put all the trigger warnings beforehand without giving away a major part of the plot, but consider yourself warned. And oh yeah! that ending!!! Again warning y’all.

The book was seriously so much different from what Colleen Hoover usually writes and I’m not even sure what would it make of me if I were to say I liked the book, one might think I’m a dark, twisted person too 😀

My rating 4/5 stars.

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Newcomer by Keigo Higashino |Book Review

Newcomer by Keigo Higashino is part of the Detective Kaga series. This book can be read as a standalone as there’s no backstory about Kaga or his personal life in the books. I’ve only read The Devotion of Suspect X before by the author and I loved it for its brilliant narration and I was super hyped about receiving this book for review.

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Newcomer is about the murder of a 40-year old woman, who is living alone and hardly any of her neighbours or the shops around her place know her or where she is from. She’s a newcomer to the area and is found strangulated to death in her apartment.  So why was she murdered and by who – a classic case of whodunnit mystery.

The book is divided into 8 small sections – each around people directly or indirectly involved with the victim and what role they played in it. These stories are like mini-mysteries that have small endings of their own and also unfold a little part of the victim’s past or even days before her murder. I loved how they were all intricately woven to narrate a bigger story and how they all fall into place towards the end. One cannot stop feeling sad for the victim and agree with the witnesses that “she is a sweet person, with no enemies”.

As there is an entire cast of characters, we only get a glimpse of each – except for the victim’s son – and I liked how Kaga interacts with them on the most trivial things that go on to show a little more about the person.. It definitely was a case of misjudgements for me, as in characters I thought were bad turn up good and each of the mini-mysteries were so good that it never felt boring or dragging.

One thing I didn’t like about the book was the repetition of lines and some dialogues not making sense or significance, but these are bound to happen in translated works and I kinda ignored that.

Kaga is also a newcomer to the precinct and I loved his style of solving the crime – casual, calculating and observant. He didn’t behave like a know-it-all , rather revealing the facts slowly in a matter-of-fact way.

Anyone who loves simple, uncomplicated mysteries would love this book. You may not find “mind-blowing, woah never seen that coming” kinda plot twists, but its all about love and family and relationships, and not a cold blooded murder. Overall, this is a sweet (??!!) cozy, heart-warming mystery that you can read in one sitting and if you’re a fan of Japanese lit, you would love it.

My rating 3.75 stars!

**Thanks to the publishers for providing me with this review copy**

P.S I scheduled this post for 6th Feb 2019 but WordPress kinda pissed me off by posting an empty blog with only a title. I couldn’t recover anything and had to post from scratch.

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Author : Keigo Higashino

Publishers : Hachette India

Source: Review copy

Buy the book from Amazon.in

Mystery |Suspense |Japanese Lit

 

#JanuaryWrapUp |Books I read in January

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My January was good in terms of reading. I started 10 books but was able to finish 7 of them. And that’s a huge thing for me. But it also means less screen time and infrequent posts in Bookstagram.

I covered various items in my checklist from books gifted to books in TBR for a long time.

  •  A review copy – The Passenger   3.5 stars
  •  A carry forward from 2018 – My Plain Jane – 3 stars
  •  An audiobook – Damsel – 2 stars
  •  #theunreadshelfproject2019 – an unread book – All your perfects – 5 stars
  •  A book that was gifted – A very Large Expanse of Sea – 5 stars
  •  Anticipated new release 2019 – The Vanishing Stairs – 4 stars
  •  Non-fiction audiobook – We Should All be Feminists – 4 stars

What books did you read in January? How was your reading last month?

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Truly Devious – Book Review

|Books I read in 2018 but never wrote a review|

Truly Devious is a YA mystery novel that revolves around the murders committed in a boarding school in early twentieth century.

Schools may be famous for many things: academics, graduates, sports teams.
They are not supposed to be famous for murders.

Ellingham Academy is not your normal boarding school. Its a place where “learning is a game“. img_7347Albert Ellingham, business tycoon and philanthropist opens a school where kids can learn on their own pace, in their own way with no restrictions to the modes of learning. And its completely free but only accepts 30 students per year, a mix of rich and poor.

Ellingham and his family lives right in the middle of the school grounds and when his wife and daughter are kidnapped, another student – Dottie Epstein – is also found dead. In the present, a fresh batch of students, including Stevie Bell, a true crime aficionado, are joining the school and Stevie’s one goal in life is to become a detective. Naturally, she is pulled towards the centuries old  unresolved mystery and tries to get into the bottom of it. Literally!

The story is written in parallel timings – and we have two murder mysteries to resolve – one in present, and the other from 1936. The writing is incredibly good and kept me hooked. Like other boarding school mysteries or murder mysteries, we are presented with so many clues, suspects but never ever can one keep guessing whats gonna happen. Hell, I wasn’t able to.  And the riddles signed Truly, Devious were creepy and definitely didn’t help in finding who Devious was. There was definite lag of pace in the beginning, but it picked up in the second half.

I loved reading the book even though it left us with a cliffhanger. The sequel is out on Jan 22 2019 and expectations are very very high!!

If you don’t like reading YA, I still recommend this book to you because you will be super impressed.

If you like YA, its much more better than Charlotte Holmes series.

Rating 5/5 stars

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More about the book:

Author: Mauren Johnson

Publishers :HarperCollins

Published on: January 2018

Source : Audiobook from storytel.in

First in series|Part of series|Cliffhanger

 

 

 

Mini Reviews – My Plain Jane | Damsel

I wasn’t in the mood for a complete review of the two books because I didn’t like them much and I didn’t feel like explaining it big. I listened to both the books through Storytel. So here goes a mini review.

My Plain Jane

This is Image result for my plain janeBook#2 in The Lady Janies and I loved book#1 My Lady Jane so much.. I had expectations for this book but I wasn’t happy with how it turned out to be. This is a retelling of Jane Eyre with ghosts and ghost hunters in the authors’ own style, but the humour felt a lot more forced. The characters didn’t make an impression except for Helen. Everyone and Everything else felt like a lack of something big, something captivating.

Reader, I was bored. To death!

Rating 3/5 stars

Damsel by Elana K Arnold

Throughout the book, I kept telling myself it will turn out to be good, there’s gotta be an explanation but ended up saying WTF!!??! repeatedly. Image result for damsel elana k arnoldI mean, the author’s intentions may have been subtle, twisted feminism but the book only made me enraged.

There was so much abuse – physical, animal, verbal. I don’t think anyone will be looking at the silver lining (the end) because no one will be patient enough to get through the first 98% of the book.

Prince has to slay dragon, rescue Damsel, rule Kingdom. This is the storyline and if you wanted a feminist retelling, there could have been so many better ways to tell that. This book was brutally honest in telling women are treated like shit and become Wonder Woman overnight.

Rating – 2/5 stars.

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My Doodles Ate Me – Unboxing

December 2018 left with me wonderful surprises which I suppose was only fair because I had a very sh**ty year.

So what made 2018 better towards the end? I was chosen a rep for the first time in my bookstagram journey. My Doodles Ate me has given me that happiness because they have acknowledged and put their trust in my pictures. And I’m brimming with pride. *happy tears*

So who/what is My Doodles Ate Me ?

MDAM by Aparna Singh was launched in October 2018 and you can find all about her and her comics in her Instagram profile of the same name.

MDAM has an amazing and quirky collection of pins, badges, fridge magnets, post cards and stickers and so much more.

Aparna’s illustrations and comics are amusing, so do check out her page for more.

My Rep Bag

I got my package in an eco friendly cotton tote bag that has an illustrated shop in the front, named Doodle Dukaan. Kudos to such packaging!!

What was in my bag?

  • Hustle Harder – Laptop Sticker
  • Own it Behen #TeamUnibrow – Wall Decal
  • Doodle Dukaan – Sticker
  • #Bookstagram – Post card
  • You are Loved – mini jar candle
  • You’re my Penguin – Greeting card
  • Your Hugs Recharge My Happy – Greeting card
  • You’re my Penguin – Pin Badge
  • Doodle Dukaan – Fridge Magnet

 

I loved everything in the bag and the bag itself, and if you are looking for some beautiful illustrated goodies, MDAM is your destination. If you can see from my pictures, I have framed the Hashtag Bookstagram card and I’m so in love with it !!

Where do you find MDAM

Site address : https://www.mydoodlesateme.com

There’s free shipping on all orders above INR 499 and you can use my code MDAMShibani15 for a 15 % discount.

And finally, Let’s promote small businesses and women entrepreneurs , shall we ? 🙂 ❤

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The Passenger by Lisa Lutz – Book Review

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Author: Liza Lutz

Publishers: Titan Books

Published on: March 2016

Source: Review copy provided by Bloomsbury India

Pages: 381

Fiction|Crime|Suspense

The Passenger by Lisa Lutz starts off with an incredible opening. Frank Dubois is Dead and his wife Tanya Dubois is sitting near him, drinking bourbon.

In case you were wondering, I didn’t do it. I didn’t have anything to do with Frank’s death. I don’t even have an alibi, so you have to take my word for it.

Married to him for seven years, but she hardly sheds tears and decides to take off. She doesn’t want the police to be after her, because the spouse is always the first suspect. Real reason – she doesn’t want them to be digging into her past. Her past which drove her miles away from her hometown, her past that made her get married to Frank as a safety net. What follows next is how she changes identity to Amelia Keen, moves to a different town and tries to start over. She meets Blue, the mysterious bar girl who looks at the person behind Amelia Keen and knows she is hiding something. Can Tanya survive her past, is Blue a friend or a foe,  is what you will find towards the end of the book where Tanya keeps shedding identities like Debra Maze, Emma Lark, Sonia Lubovich and Paige and more.

The female protagonist is strong and wilful and is learning to survive amidst all the chaos that has happened to her in the past. I’m not calling her Tanya because that ain’t her real name 😉 When I first got the book, I thought there were eight different POVs. But only after I finished reading Tanya Dubois and started with Amelia Keen, did I understand that the character is just finding new identities and things got interesting.

There are side plots that keep you entertained along the way until you reach the final reveal. So you are pushed to the edge with so much suspense and build up and there is this string of email conversations between a Ryan and a Jo , that makes you want to turn the pages fast and get to the end to where it all becomes a full circle.

I loved that the book was strongly-centered around a female character, showing her in both lights – Badass handling a gun, Good Samaritan anonymously tipping police about explosives hidden in a house. Every place she travels to, the identity changes, adjusting to the new name/place/backstory only to run again, but I wasn’t bored at all. The story keeps you engrossed, and you can’t stop feeling something’s gonna happen at every page turn.

So what I didn’t like about the book – the climax wasn’t what I expected. After a strong buildup, I was put down by the end. If I wasn’t giving away too much, I would say that towards the end, I didn’t like Tanya (or whatever her real name is 😉 ) too much.

I rate the book a 3.5 stars!!

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*Thank you Bloomsbury India for the review copy*

You can find my review on GoodReads,

My thoughts on Pride by Ibi Zoboi

When I first heard about a modern day retelling of Pride and Prejudice, I was beyond excited. I’ve read so many retellings of this classic and I’m never bored. I always wanted to read American Street by Ibi Zoboi but never got the chance. When I Pride was released, the ebook price was somewhere near ₹300 and I just downloaded the sample to see if if I will like it. The first few pages were really good, and I found the audiobook in @storytel.in.. It took 6 hours to listen to the book and it was narrated by Elizabeth Acevedo who I loved after listening to her debut.

Coming to Pride, it’s about Zuri Benitez and her four sisters living in a crammed apartment in Bushwick, a black neighbourhood in Brooklyn. Enter the Darcy family, who move just across from the Benitez to a renovated mansion , with their two boys Darius Darcy and Ainsley Darcy. Zuri is fiercely proud of her Haitian-Dominican heritage and her neighbourhood and is trying to go to Howard University, a historically Black college. She is against the gentrification of her neighbourhood, fearing that it will be whitewashed in few years. And when the mansion across is renovated and a wealthy family moves in, she is all set to hate them with her whole heart because she thinks they will try to change her neighbourhood, increase it’s market price, making it more vanilla and less chocolate , if you know what I mean.

Sticking to the original classic, Janae and Ainsley fall for each other while Zuri and Darius bicker. I didn’t really love the chemistry, because it felt confusing to see Darius have multiple personality while this transition is smooth in P&P. It was very abrupt and felt like it had no strong base. There’s a lot of class discrimination and family dynamics. I love how Bushwick is discussed more and travels very much like a character within the book. With all the diverse setting, my personal opinion is the book could have been better.

Zuri disliking her sister’s relationship for a stupid reason, prejudiced against her rich Black neighbours because they are not authentic enough, and being very judgemental was enough to make me feel like she’s not the Liz Bennet I love.

Darius – my boy, you didn’t meet my expectations of Mr.Darcy. He’s way above there! Yes, Darius is socially awkward like the original Darcy but the similarity ends right there.

I rate the book a 3.75 stars, 3 for its attempt at a diverse retelling. . The extra 0.75 is for Elizabeth Acevedo’s beautiful narration.

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Heart of Iron – Book Review

Author: Ashley Poston

Publishers: Balzer + Bray

Published on : Feb 2018

Source: Audiobook listened through Storytel.in

First in a series , not a standalone.

Book Blurb

Seventeen-year-old Ana is a scoundrel by nurture and an outlaw by nature. Found as a child drifting through space with a sentient android called D09, Ana was saved by a fearsome space captain and the grizzled crew she now calls family. Heart of Iron (Heart of Iron, #1)But D09—one of the last remaining illegal Metals—has been glitching, and Ana will stop at nothing to find a way to fix him. Ana’s desperate effort to save D09 leads her on a quest to steal the coordinates to a lost ship that could offer all the answers. But at the last moment, a spoiled Ironblood boy beats Ana to her prize. He has his own reasons for taking the coordinates, and he doesn’t care what he’ll sacrifice to keep them. When everything goes wrong, she and the Ironblood end up as fugitives on the run. Now their entire kingdom is after them—and the coordinates—and not everyone wants them captured alive. What they find in a lost corner of the universe will change all their lives—and unearth dangerous secrets. But when a darkness from Ana’s past returns, she must face an impossible choice: does she protect a kingdom that wants her dead or save the Metal boy she loves?

Heart of Iron is supposedly a sci-fi space retelling of Anastasia which I knew nothing of and had to google it before beginning the book. Let me warn you, I have not read that much sci-fi and haven’t really felt a liking towards the genre because its all very confusing to me. But I liked Heart of Iron and here’s why.

Amazing characters

The book is richly packed with diverse characters – Metals  (Androids that are both devoid and brimming with emotions), gay couples, a brown skinned female protagonist etc.

The book is told in four POV’s..

  • Ana – The girl who was found by Captain Siege in an escape pod in space, along with her companion Metal, Di or D09.
  • Di – The metalhead who is devoid of feelings but is very very loyal and protective of Ana.
  • Jax – the cool pilot of the Dossier, the pirate ship that Ana belongs to. He is queer and has the ability to read the stars, and has a mysterious past which is not revealed much in the book.
  • Robb – the Ironblood who is desperately searching for his father who is presumed dead by the Kingdom, during its Android attack seven years ago that killed the entire Royal family including it’s Princess.

So you would have thought that Robb and Ana would end up together, but no !! If it weren’t revealed towards the beginning of the book that Ana has not-just-friendly feelings for her Di, considering the amount of time Robb and Ana spend together in the latter part of the book, I would have thought that they were the couples too 😛

The plot twists

I’m not talking about discovering who the lost princess is.. There are a lot of tiny little plot twists that make the entire book enjoyable. Good become bad, Bad become good??!!, people end up dead, secrets revealed..

The writing

Its simple, fast paced (although a little lagging at the beginning) and has beautiful lines like these.

Her heart beat, and his wires hummed, and they were Ana and Di – and there were no words for that.

If he believed in the Moon Goddess, he’d be praying right now. He’d be praying really, really hard. And he’d be praying something like, Merciful Goddess, if you exist, please hand my ass to me some other day. I don’t want to die. I haven’t kissed Jax yet.

And E05!! 

This cute little bot stole my heart!! It can’t speak but comes in handy in several situations and is cutely called by Di as his can opener ❤

What I Didn’t like

Okayyyyy… coming to what I didn’t like.. Basically a little hard to understand who was what.. So Captain Siege has optical fibre hair that lights up different colours based on her emotions. One of the crew member has mechanical leg. But I wasn’t sure if they were also Metals like Di or Human or Humanoids.. And also not very clear about Di too.

I disliked the madman Lord Rasovant, not because he is the supposedly villain of the story but because of how poorly his character was built. He sounded like a lunatic to me and not a very powerful character that needs to be feared.

The world building could have been better, because I wasn’t clear on the planets and the Iron Kingdom or the Solanis. There were random places mentioned, planets and their moons but it lacked some in-depth and clear idea of the world Poston was trying to build.  I’m not sure if the books had a map, but I read an audiobook so it was all the more confusing.

The verdict!!

Yes, I will be looking forward to the sequel Soul of Stars that comes out in 2019 hoping to know more of that ending!! And more about the HIVE and Jax.

I rate the book  3.75 stars!!

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Why You Should Read Weird Things Customers say in Bookshops..

Why you should read Jen Campbell’s Weird Things Customers say in Bookshops?

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Because it’s fun and easy to read.

Because you need to read something light after that heavy and long book you finished!

Because the year is about to end, and your reading challenge still needs to be completed and this book can be finished in an hour!

Because you have asked weird questions in bookshops or even heard them being asked and would like to know if they are listed in the book.

Because you have been subjected to such questions being a book lover and ready with book recs.

Because you just need to know what the book has to say!

Because the anecdotes are funny and so heartbreakingly ridiculous !!

Because what bookworm doesn’t like books about bookshops?

Because there’s a sequel too..

Because there are funny illustrations across the book.

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Do you still need more reasons? Go get the book now!! (Amazon.in)

I got a used copy from Amazon which was surprisingly new and its hardcover so all the bonus points to the seller!!.

Recommended for all bookworms 🙂

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