Always and Forever, Lara Jean – Book Review

Author : Jenny Han

Publisher : Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Pub Date: 02 May 2017

Source : Own copy

Get the book from Amazon.in

Book Blurb :

Lara Jean’s letter-writing days aren’t over in this surprise follow-up to the New York Always and Forever, Lara Jean (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #3)Times bestselling To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You. Lara Jean is having the best senior year a girl could ever hope for. She is head over heels in love with her boyfriend, Peter; her dad’s finally getting remarried to their next door neighbor, Ms. Rothschild; and Margot’s coming home for the summer just in time for the wedding. But change is looming on the horizon. And while Lara Jean is having fun and keeping busy helping plan her father’s wedding, she can’t ignore the big life decisions she has to make. Most pressingly, where she wants to go to college and what that means for her relationship with Peter. She watched her sister Margot go through these growing pains. Now Lara Jean’s the one who’ll be graduating high school and leaving for college and leaving her family-and possibly the boy she loves-behind. When your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

My thoughts :

This is the last book of the To all the boys trilogy. You have to read the first two before starting this one.

This book kept me on my edge!!! Throughout the book I kept wondering whether Lara Jean and Peter Kavinsky are going to break up. I mean I was ready to break down and melt down into a puddle. Having read other Trilogies of Jenny Han, and remembering what a wreck it made me (I still feel sorry for Reeve Tabatsky from the Burn for Burn trilogy ;_( )

So while i was expecting the worst and was kinda prepared for it, I should say I loved this book. It didnt seem like a fitting  end to a series, the second book was more like it. But still, it felt like a nice long epilogue for what happens next in happily ever after.

It’s all about nostalgia, fear of the future and never leaving loved ones yet at the same time carving your niche!!

Kitty was and will always be my favorite of the Song Sisters, she is smart, witty, has great fashion sense and makes things funnier and happier.

Peter Kavinsky is bae and I loved the way he loves Lara Jean ❤ He is perfectly imperfect, a guy who learns to braid his girlfriend’s hair, who wants to surprise her in the sweetest ways possible but feels down when they turn out otherwise. ‘He is such a boy!”

I never like Margot and this book was the same for me, she is my least favorite Song sister. This journey of Lara Jean’s life is definitely a sweet, funny and cutesy story. And oh my god that ending!

My rating is ofcourse 5 stars 🙂

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The Upside of Unrequited – Book Review

Author : Becky Albertalli

Publisher : Penguin Random House

Pub Date: 11 April 2017

Source : Own copy

Get the book from Amazon.in

Book Blurb

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love-she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always inThe Upside of Unrequitedsecret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness-except for the part where she is.
Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny, flirtatious, and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker, Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?

My Thoughts

This is Becky Albertalli’s second book and I’ve never read Simon Vs the Homosapiens. But I heard about this book through Instagram and decided to buy a copy and got the imported one from Amazon, only to know that it got published in India weeks later at a much lesser price 😐

So when i started reading the book, the first thought that came to my mind was, am I too old for this one. Because the main protagonist was behaving like a 14-year old, very self conscious, with huge amounts of insecurity..  I always read YA books and i love the fact that i’m able to relate to a lot of them. But this book had me questioning my love towards YA. Especially because of the 4+ ratings other readers are giving it.

Molly has had 20 plus crushes and the plot says she knows a lot about unrequited love. Does she? She hasn’t ever really tried.. she has never made a step towards her crush. There’s not enough said about how she was pining fora particular crush.  And the book is all about getting her a boyfriend. Go figure!

“I guess it’s just this feeling that my body is secretly all wrong. Which means any guy who assumes I’m normal is going to flip his shit if we get to the point of nakedness. Whoa. Nope. Not what I signed up for.”

I think the book was just trying too much?! There were so many diverse characters, like so many (Molly’s moms, a pan-sexual Korean American girlfriend, Jews, gay best friends you name it..) i think it was all just for reaching said groups. One dying character would have completed the list i guess…

i’m not trying to be cynical,  I really wanted to like the book.Maybe it would have appealed to 12-19 year olds, i mean actual teens instead of me, a tween.

The only part of the book i actually liked was the twins’ relationship. That was real.. the feeling of hurt and being invisible to your own sibling after he/she becomes involved in a relationship and to top it all you learn about said relationship through social media!. That was… sad.. and it was what kept me hooked to the book. Like i wanted to know how do they rectify their situation.. But I don’t mean that i liked Cassie. She was mean to her sister, a little bossy at times.

Characterization – ummmm i need to think hard for this one. I think i liked Nadine, Molly’s mom. I did  not like Molly or Will. I loved the geeky Middle Earth loving Reid.

The writing was funny here and there. Not so great if i’d rather sum it up.

The entire book was about finding a boyfriend, to finally feel ‘belonging’ and be experienced enough to talk about kisses n sex. Grow a spine and stop whining  was what I kept telling Molly throughout the book.

Jenny Han’s To all the boys I loved before was good, if we are to talk about unrequited crushes.

A huge disappointment, this one. 2.5/5 stars.

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A Court Of Wings and Ruin – Book Review

Author : Sarah J Maas

Publisher : Bloomsbury Publishing

Pub Date: 2 May 2017

Source : Own copy got through Story Trunk May box.

Get the book from Amazon.in, Infibeam

Book Blurb

A nightmare, I’d told Tamlin. I was the nightmare. A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3)

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit—and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well. As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords—and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

My Thoughts

Oh my GAWWDDDD!!!

That was my first reaction after finishing the book. I cried, I shuddered, I was at loss of words while reading and after finishing the book. This is PERFECTION!.  This could have been the final book of the series as it is very well written but SJM decides to keep her fans hooked and so is rewarding us with another in 2018. But its so faaarrrr away and is already on top of my anticipated books of 2018.

Where should i begin about this book.. whatever i write will never make justice. SJM has never left any character to be in the shadows. Everyone has their limelight moment and i liked that. The intensity between Cassian and Nesta was too much , ufff!!! I was waiting for this to happen and still that story is left hanging and all that build up kills me.

Tamlin the Tool!! what can i say, i hated him right from the first book.. but this book made him look a little bit bearable to me.

Do you remember the Grammy Awards ceremony where Adele keeps telling how much she loves Beyonce and Beyonce is mouthing the words I love you with tears in her eyes… Well, that’s me, during a particular chapter (i promise not to give away which one) crying all the way saying I love you Rhysand!!! My Night triumphant, how much do i adore thee, you will never know!!

I cannot stop thinking about Rhysand not even after days of finishing the book. He is the best-est!!  I can write an entire post about him.. I mean I should write one.. 🙂

Feyre’s character was already well established in book two, and that’s just maintained here as she grows out to be strong and independent, thanks to her wonderful High Lord.

I hate wars even if its in books and this war was pretty intense. I was fearing for each n every character’s life. SJM made me turn the pages like a mad person.

If you still haven’t read the book or started the series, please just do.

My rating is 4.5 stars. (I didn’t like the frequent sex scenes, i felt they were totally unnecessary given the intense build up in Book 2, hence the minus 0.5)

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Hold Back the Stars – ARC review

Author : Katie Khan

Publisher : Gallery Books ( a division of Simon and Schuster)

Pub Date: 23 May 2017

Source : I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. (Thank you!)

Get the book from Amazon, B & N

Book Blurb :

A startling and evocative novel, harkening to both One Day and Gravity, a man and a woman revisit memories of their love affair on a utopian Earth while they are trapped in the vast void of space with only ninety minutes of oxygen left. 

After the catastrophic destruction of the Middle East and the United States, Europe has become a utopia and, every three years, the European population must rotate into different multicultural communities, living as individuals responsible for their own actions. While living in this paradise, Max meets Carys and immediately feels a spark of attraction. He quickly realizes, however, that Carys is someone he might want to stay with long-term, which is impossible in this new world.

As their relationship plays out, the connections between their time on Earth and their present dilemma in space become clear. When their air ticks dangerously low, one is offered the chance of salvation—but who will take it? An original and daring exploration of the impact of first love and how the choices we make can change the fate of everyone around us, this is an unforgettable read.

My thoughts

Woww this book was something! This is really a very good attempt at Utopian science fiction. And to think this is Katie Khan’s debut novel… !!

Max and Carys are floating in space with only ninety minutes of oxygen left in their tanks and with nothing around except for an asteroid belt that hit their spaceship leaving nothing useful behind. The chapters are alternatively told with how much time that is left with that of their past. The past was just a bit boring, cheesy romance of how they met and how they ended up in the spaceship with no other cosmonauts.

The story setting is based on fictional Utopian world that is formed after the destruction of the United States and the Middle East and the form of living the post-war world adapts to – The Rotation. For every three years, people who belong to the Europia and are in Rotation, will be moved to different regions of the world. There can be no relationships that are permanent until you are 35. Everyone is answerable to no one except their own and they take responsibility for their selves in this new world. No religion, race, ethnicity, caste etc.

Max is from the founding families of the Rotation and he lives by it. While Carys, is enrolled in it only after 18, has enough roots and commitments prior to Rotation so she hates the system. What happens when they meet is what follows and yes, eventually ending up in a spaceship.

Sci-fi wise the book was great and wonderful creative writing. Romance-wise it was nothing different.

“Science both advances and undermines itself over time. If we live long enough, most theories we currently accept as fact will be proved false. There is always better, more advanced science out there -we just have to advance our own knowledge first. “

As the minutes are ticking and there’s no miracle happening, i was intrigued and definitely wanting to finish the book to know its end. And boy was i surprised. I don’t want to give spoilers but those last few chapters were amazing!

My rating 4/5 stars 🙂

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The Circus – Arc review

Author : Olivia Levez

Publishers : Rock the Boat (an imprint of Oneworld Publications)

Pub date: 04 May 2017

Source : I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. (Thank you!)

Book blurb :

Why would a girl who has everything want to run away and never be found?
Willow has staged runaways ever since she was a little girl. She has everything a young person should want: a rich daddy, clothes, money, a pony and a place at a prestigious boarding school. In reality, she has everything except the thing she really wants: a father who cares enough to find her.

Aged sixteen, on the eve of her father’s wedding, she ruins the bride’s dress and escapes through a window, determined never to return. Her missing mother was a circus performer, and Willow wants to follow in her footsteps. But the performers she meets don’t want her. When her last bit of money is stolen by Suze, another runaway girl she thought she could trust, Willow becomes really homeless. Then Suze comes tumbling back into her life and a desperate Willow has to decide whether to trust her all over again . . .
So begins their frightening, exhilarating odyssey though hunger, performance, desperation and dreams. Will they both survive and will Willow make it to the circus of her imagining?

Olivia Levez takes you into the very heart of a girl who wants so hard to be lost, but saves herself through a powerful friendship and the awakening of a need for home.

My thoughts :

Running away is as easy as breathing for Willow. She has ran away from her rich dad several times during her 16 years of life. This time, though, she plans her escape (from what!?) and lists out rules that she needs to follow to make sure she doesn’t get caught again. She experiences life out of her luxurious home, begs, steals, auditions for the circus, gets betrayed and learns so much about herself during this escapade.

I may have a love/hate relationship towards this book because i didn’t like Willow that much. The book tells that she is from a very rich background, with her own ponies and boarding school and house keeper etc. Yet, she is unhappy and tries to run away at every chance. The reason why she is so much obsessed with running away is – her dad doesn’t love her, she wants to find her mother who is presumed to have worked in a Circus, and she hates that her dad is re-marrying the Handbag (All through the book, this character is referred to as Handbag, no reasons provided, although actual name is given). She sabotages the wedding dress – so much hatred – and runs off with her gap year money in search of a mother whose memory is only associated with her throwing off baby Willow in the air. Right!

Looked like Willow hated everyone – except Suze (a street performer, also a runaway) who she initially hates and then takes care of later in the book – even her house keeper. Why there is so much angst, I couldn’t comprehend. Rich, spoilt and naive. Willow recalls how her dad is never the one to find her and which is why she keeps running away – to be found. I liked the Circus part of the book, where she tries to learn new things and live her dream although short lived.

Some people would have liked the Suze-Willow part, but truthfully that just made me sad and think this is how much you suffer or experience when you run away from home. The world is not a happy place for runaways.. People betray you, cheat you, take advantage of you and leave you with broken heart and lessons for a lifetime. So yes, I recommend this to those that seek attention from parents, to those that are feeling unwanted, left out and want to leave everything behind in search of a place where they would belong.

My rating is 4/5 stars 🙂

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The Boy is Back – Book Review

Author : Meg Cabot

Publishers : William Morrow Paperbacks (HarperCollins)

Pub Date : 18 Oct 2016

Source: Purchased online from Amazon.in

Get the book from Amazon.in, Amazon.com.

Book blurb:

Reed Stewart thought he’d left all his small-town troubles—including a broken heartThe Boy Is Back (Boy, #4)—behind when he ditched tiny Bloomville, Indiana, ten years ago to become rich and famous on the professional golf circuit.  Then one tiny post on the Internet causes all of those troubles to return . . . with a vengeance.
Becky Flowers has worked hard to build her successful senior-relocation business, but she’s worked even harder to forget Reed Stewart ever existed. She has absolutely no intention of seeing him when he returns—until his family hires her to save his parents.

Now Reed and Becky can’t avoid one another—or the memories of that one fateful night. And soon everything they thought they knew about themselves (and each other) has been turned upside down, and they—and the entire town of Bloomville—might never be the same, all because The Boy Is Back.

My thoughts:

This book is the last of the Boy series by Meg Cabot although you can read it as a standalone. This is about Becky Flowers and Reed Stewart who dated during high school but after a small ‘incident’ involving his father’s golf truck on his prom night and cops , Reed leaves Bloomville without another word to his girlfriend and never returns. Fate however has a different plan now that after ten years he is ‘forced’ to revisit the place. Becky is now a strong independent woman leading her father’s business to success and is somewhat grateful for a boyfriend who has a ‘cheese and wine’ boutique in town!

Things get interesting when Reed and Becky’s lives are intersecting again. This isn’t a new story line but what is new and makes the book sooo interesting is the fact that it is told entirely through text messages, emails and newspaper articles. Yes, the plot is pretty much predictable but try telling a story through texts, at the same time introducing many characters, but still keeping the readers engaged.

Its the return of the Meg Cabot that i loved and worshipped !! 😛 I was so taken aback after reading the finale of Princess Diaries – Royal Wedding. But this book !! Its everything i love about Meg Cabot’s writing style, the funny narration and lovable characters.

I so loved Marshal and Carly Stewart, Reed’s brother and sis-in-law. These people are couple goals, really! Not the dying for each other love, but typical tom-and-jerry bickering but all the same loving and being funny couple.

I’ve always wondered how difficult it is to write a novel in epistolary format and this book just does it with texts and emails and you get the complete picture without big descriptions and paragraphs.

And there’s one too many Jane Austen references and quotes 😉

Fans of chick-lit, Meg Cabot, Sophie Kinsella.. this book will not disappoint you!

I give 4/5 stars 🙂

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Court of Lions – Book Review

Author : Jane Johnson

Publishers : Head of Zeus

Pub Date : May 2017/July 2017

Source: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. (Thank you!)

Get the book from Amazon

Book Blurb

Sometimes at the lowest points in your life, fate will gift you chance. A golden thread of love links the fifteenth and twenty-first centuries.

Kate Fordham, escaping terrible trauma, has fled to the beautiful sunlit city of Granada, the ancient capital of the Moors in Spain, where she is scraping by with an unfulfilling job in a busy bar. One day in the glorious gardens of the Alhambra, once home to Sultan Abu Abdullah Mohammed, also known as Boabdil, Kate finds a scrap of paper hidden in one of the ancient walls. Upon it, in strange symbols, has been inscribed a message from another age. It has lain undiscovered since before the Fall of Granada in 1492, when the city was surrendered to Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand. Born of love, in a time of danger and desperation, the fragment will be the catalyst that changes Kate’s life forever.

An epic saga of romance and redemption, Court of Lions brings one of the great turning-points in history to life, telling the stories of a modern woman and the last Moorish sultan of Granada, as they both move towards their cataclysmic destinies.

My thoughts:

This is almost 500 pages and was a very long read for me as I had to shuffle between reading time and work. I finally finished it after a week 🙂

The story is about Kate Fordham, who has a disastrous past and flies away from it to the Province of Granada. She is broken, thanks to her past, and she just manages to survive in a foreign country living each day in guilt and fear. She finds solace in the gardens of Alhambra and one day when she takes a stroll, she finds this note hidden in the walls. She is intrigued by it and in an attempt to find what the note actually means, she meets new people and finds friendship and finally the courage to let someone else in her life.

There is also a parallel narration, from the point of view of Blessings, the (fictional) royal companion of Sultan Abu Abdullah Mohammed, the last Nasrid ruler of Granada (Also called as Momo by Blessings) . This narration explains the unrequited love that Blessings had for Momo, the war that led to the fall of the Nasrid dynasty and the Spanish Inquisition. This was quite tough to follow, because of various historical references and me not being very good at World history.

Kate’s part was easy to follow and I was expecting something more along the lines of the ‘note’ she finds. Blessings’ narration was little difficult and I was confused from the beginning whether its a girl or a boy. So this was explained towards the end of the book and that made sense. I liked the way the chapters were set, one suspense from Kate and the next chapter begins with Blessings narration or the vice versa.

There was so much love in the eyes of Blessings for Momo, even though the Sultan loved his royal companion, it was clearly a ‘Friend Zoned’ relationship.

All those religious wars.. 😦 I hate to think about it and this suppression/oppression makes me stand with Momo who loves nothing but peace for his people and decides to give up everything for them. And this is still happening!! One day everything is peaceful and next day they are gassing or bombing people. 😦

Moors and Hews and Castilians mingling in souks and markets to buy and sell and exchange news and gossip. Until, of course, the ambitions of the powerful set one against the other.

The author’s note explained why she had written this book around the Sultan. History has it that the Sultan wept after giving away the keys of his Kingdom to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. But this is debated as a story made up, and so the author decided to give the story from his closest ally’s point of view recounting the events that led to the fall of his kingdom. A chance to celebrate him, for what he truly is.

It was beautifully detailed and leaves you with so much pain. I wasn’t that much hooked to Kate’s life and how the story progresses there.

And hey, Christopher Columbus makes guest appearance 😉

I give 4/5 stars. A tragic historical fiction with a little suspense.

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