The Vanishing Stairs by Maureen Johnson |Audiobook Review

The Vanishing stairs is the 2nd book in the Truly Devious trilogy. You can read the review of the first book here.

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At the end of Truly Devious, there was a huge cliffhanger and nearly half the mystery was left unsolved. So its only right when I say I was biting my nails in anticipation for the next book in series. Thankfully I read the book in Dec 2018 only so I had to wait only for a month. **But waiting for the third book now is a whole other thing ***

The title of book#2 gave me major Nancy Drew feels. Did ya feel the same?

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Spoilers from Book#1 ahead!!!

So if you remember, Stevie Bell was trying to resolve the original Ellingham murder mystery in book# 1, which also included the murder of her classmate. Book#2 is about the first two unresolved mysteries and the missing case of Element Walker who Stevie suspects for the present day murder.

The second book starts with Stevie being taken out of school, but still thinking about her unresolved cases. She makes a deal with the devil, Edward King himself and re-enters Ellingham academy to keep an eye out for David, who’s been acting out ever since she left. There’s a lot of ‘unresolved’ feelings here but both of them shy away from the topic as much as possible.

While there was less time spent on the other characters in Book#1, here Nate and other friends of Stevie have more to contribute to the plot. I loved Nate for his dry sarcasm. Every other new character introduced felt shady to me ๐Ÿ˜€

The plot is pretty much at the same pace as the first book, with twists you didn’t see coming and parallel stories from the past, mostly the investigations and Albert Ellingham’s life after the murder of his wife.

Yet again the book ends in a major cliffhanger which only irritated me slightly because I felt most part of the mystery is over and a few more chapters would have ended the book as a Duology. But then again Maureen Johnson wants us all to wait. One more year.

My rating 4/5 stars

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A Very Large Expanse of Sea |Book Review

|Best Books of 2018| YA Fiction|

Author – Tahereh Mafi

Other books by author – Shatter me series, Furthermore Duology.

Publisher : HarperTeen

Get the book from Amazon.in

A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi was a book gifted to me by a lovely friend (@natsinbookland )in Instagram.

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If there was one YA book I would recommend to anyone, this would be it! I loved this book, I loved it for it’s representation of post 9/11 America, I loved it for the way it depicted the glorious pre-Facebook days, I loved it for showing how devastatingly painful, the life of a Muslim American teen can be in those days.

This books is a must read, y’all!!!

#OwnVoices – Tahereh Mafi has written this book to share her own experiences of being stereotyped and her struggle with racism and her love for breakdancing. This book is brutally honest and makes you ashamed, angry and regret the things we knowingly or unknowingly do against a community.

โ€œI was stuck in another small town, trapped in another universe populated by the kind of people whoโ€™d only ever seen faces like mine on their evening news, and I hated it.โ€

Shirin is the angry teen who is tired of moving around, transferring to multiple schools before completing high school and is forever pissed off about people asking her questions about her hijab. She puts on a tough exterior so that people will leave her alone and not make small talk or pass racist comments that they think would affect her. She doesn’t shy away from talking back and this applies to English teachers who think she is out of place in an Honors class. Shirin isn’t entirely perfect too, she is prejudiced against people just like they are against her. And thats what makes it more relatable.

When socially-awkard Ocean and Shirin are paired for Bio, there isn’t any sparks flying. There isn’t any Insta-love, exchanging of numbers and planning dates by the end of the week. This is early 2000, mobile phones and talk times are costly and people just don’t reveal everything on social media.

I loved how Ocean and Shirin start interacting, each knowing so very little about the other. Ocean is a sweet guy, who is ignorant of the hatred and whiplash Shirin gets around school and slowly learns about her world. I loved all the mixed emotions going on in their minds. So raw and heart-warming!

Just like Shirin and Ocean, I loved Shirin’s relationship with her brother Navid, #goals!!

This book isn’t mainly about the love between two young people, but about how people around perceive it and treat them based on it. If not for the story line, read this book for its characters, pick it up to see how they affect you , resonate with you long after you finish it.

The more I got to know people, the more I realized we were all just a bunch of frightened idiots walking around in the dark, bumping into each other and panicking for no reason at all.
So I started turning on a light.

All the stars for this book!! 5/5 rating.

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My February Wrap Up

My February was rather too busy with family and work and I was able to read only four books. Sigh!!

I hope to read 3 wonderful books last month but due to lack of time, I have moved them to my March TBR. Fingers crossed !!

  • Verity By Colleen Hoover – I was a good bean and even wrote a review for the book. Go check !!
  • Second book February also had a review post – Newcomer by Keigo Higashino.
  • Third one was an audiobook I started listening to during the family things that kept me away from social media. Its ‘Meet Me There’ (Ridgewater High #1) a YA book where two teens who hate each other meet accidentally in a dark Chemistry lab not knowing the other person’s identity and develop a secret friendship that turns into something more. Its cute, with a lottt of a eyeball moments and I rated its 3 star. No review yet!
  • And last but the best.. The winter of the Witch!! My most anticipated read of the year…Review to definitely follow.. The best-est writing and amazing end to a series.. I can’t even find the right words to describe this trilogy.

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And thats a wrap for February!. How many books did you read ?

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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..ย 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 ๐Ÿ˜€

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.ย ย 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 thatโ€™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.

  • ย A review copy – The Passenger ย  3.5ย stars
  • ย A carry forward from 2018 – My Plain Jane – 3ย stars
  • ย An audiobook – Damsel – 2 stars
  • ย #theunreadshelfproject2019 – an unread book – All your perfects – 5 stars
  • ย A book that was gifted – A very Large Expanse of Sea – 5 stars
  • ย Anticipated new release 2019 – The Vanishing Stairs – 4 stars
  • ย 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 ย 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. ย 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 ? ๐Ÿ™‚ โค

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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, ย 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 ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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 ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) 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,