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,

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By the Book – Book Review

Author : Julia Sonneborn

Publisher : Gallery Books

Pub Date: Feb 2018

Source : Own (Kindle copy)

Get the book from Amazon.in.

You can find my review in Goodreads page as well.

Book Blurb

An English professor struggling for tenure discovers that her ex-fiancé has just become the president of her college—and her new boss—in this whip-smart modern retelling of Jane Austen’s classic Persuasion. By-the-Book-by-Julia-Sonneborn.jpg
Anne Corey is about to get schooled.
An English professor in California, she’s determined to score a position on the coveted tenure track at her college. All she’s got to do is get a book deal, snag a promotion, and boom! She’s in. But then Adam Martinez—her first love and ex-fiancé—shows up as the college’s new president.
Anne should be able to keep herself distracted. After all, she’s got a book to write, an aging father to take care of, and a new romance developing with the college’s insanely hot writer-in-residence. But no matter where she turns, there’s Adam, as smart and sexy as ever. As the school year advances and her long-buried feelings begin to resurface, Anne begins to wonder whether she just might get a second chance at love.

Funny, smart, and full of heart, this modern ode to Jane Austen’s classic explores what happens when we run into the demons of our past…and when they turn out not to be so bad, after all.

My thoughts

By the Book is a loose retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion. I’ve only half read the Classic, but I always love Austen’s writing and no matter what, I love fairytale retellings and Classic retellings. I was prepared for the book because you know how the story is going to unfold.

Anne Corey is an English Professor who is looking for a permanent job at Fairfax college which is only possible of she becomes a published author. Unexpectedly, her ex-fiancé re-enters her life in the form of her College’s new, suave, handsome President – Adam Martinez. And because she hates him at the moment and there really is room for another hot guy, there comes a Booker-Prize winning author Rick Chasen to the college as in-house writer. The book revolves around Anne and the struggles in getting her book published along with her encounters with Adam and Rick in the same campus.

What I did like about the book:

  • A book that talks a lot about Classic novels and their authors
  • Has description about a beautiful home library
  • Makes you swoon when you hear how Adam proposes Anne in the past by using a copy of “Persuasion” to hide the ring.
  • Makes you jealous of how awesome it is to have a friend like Larry, Anne’s gay best friend.
  • Has little email conversations here n there in the book (which I generally love!)

What I didn’t like:

  • There was very, very minimal romance (tension) between Adam and Anne.
  • Adam was, for most part of the book, like a character lurking in the shadows. There were very less interactions between him and Anne in the present.
  • The hostility between Adam and Rick made me think of Mr. Darcy and Wickham. And in the end, it did somewhat turn out like Pride and Prejudice. So, I’m kind of confused here.

The book could have been more better, with a little bit of originality.

I still give 3.5 stars

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Who Me, Poor – Book review

Author : Gayatri Jayaraman

Publisher : Bloomsbury Publishing India

Pub Date: July 2017

Source : Review copy provided by the Publishers (Thank you!)

Get the book from Amazon.in

Book Blurb

The characteristics and reasons for urban poverty are manifold and seem to repeat across class structures: migration, culture shock, real estate costs and unrealistic expectations of city life, a lack of financial education, corporate cultures that perpetuate stereotypical workforces, a glamourised entrepreneurial culture that focuses on icons of spending instead of struggle, and economically and politically, the rise of the cashless credit economy and the demise of the thrift economy and its conservative icons.
Who me, Poor?: How India's youth are living in urban poverty to make it big
The book will use the case studies of young Indians, typically in their first or second jobs, migrants to major Indian metros, living in these conditions. The reasons for the poverty they experience are varied, and influenced by the industries they work for, their family backgrounds, other financial obligations, social stratas, and peer groups. There are so far, no studies available for this in India, and is a rising phenomenon in the US where it has been called ‘poverty with no name’. Gayatri’s short piece on the Urban Poor crossed 1.1 million views on Buzzfeed – the highest number for any Indian feature article to date

My Thoughts

Before heading to the review, I should point out that I’m not a big fan of Non-fiction and I have tried to give an honest review as much as possible.

The book is divided into four parts – Who are the Poor, Why do they spend, Brand I, Go for Broke. Each of these sections have several anecdotes and examples that are related to the titles. For example, the first section – ‘who me, poor’ has stories of people struggling to fit in, carve their niche, and in the process spend a lot of money to get attention and to build networks and survive. The story of the fashionista who skipped meals just because she needed money to live in the ‘happening’ place in the city and wear designer clothes shook me. The reason we spend is mostly attributed to the fact that a successful career depends on spending beyond our earnings. I’ve been working for the past 4 years, living away from home and I know what peer pressure, the easy money and the city life can turn you into.

The part about credit cards and EMI’s was like a wakeup call because I’m guilty of buying expensive stuff and paying excessive financial charges. And like me, there will be others, a huge mass of them. I felt like this book was meant for this crowd, (the ones who spend on something that to most parents would look unnecessary) to create an awareness, to make them understand that impressions can be made without the need for spending more than they can afford.

A must read, especially for youngsters who have just started out with their first jobs.

My rating is 3.5/5

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