I Spy the Boy Next Door |Arc Review

I’ll be honest and let you know what made me request this arc for review from Netgalley.. The pretty book cover art and the title of course!!

This book is about Mallory Taylor, who has been home-schooled and lives a sheltered life all her life and while it seems all pretty dab and boring, the 4pm spy sessions from her window makes life interesting for her. Her object of spying – the bad boy next door – who she has spoken with once so far and all he gave her in return was a scowl and hate since then. For the last five years, her routine has been the same. But she wants more and begs her parents to continue her senior year in the public school – same as boy next door Troy Parker! Even when she meets him outside of her window, he returns the same glare and she is determined to get to know him.

If only he knew just how much I think about him, spy on him, I would be up for some sort of invasion of privacy crime.

This sounds like a cliched girl-meets-bad-boy-and-falls-for-him story but its got more than that. There are twists and turns you wouldn’t normally find in a YA/NA contemporary and they make the story worth its while.

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I enjoyed reading the book in one sitting, something that I’ve never been able to do these days. I liked the pace in which the story was set, it never got boring in between, although I should say the too-many encounters with Troy  – like “holds my gaze” “his gaze burns a hole in my head” were kinda turning out to be little downer for me. But the story got better and intense and phew!!

This is YA so obviously you cannot expect Mallory to not fall for the guy based on his looks and bad boy vibe, so I tolerated her. But guess what – Troy blew me over. As much as it was constantly ridiculed, I loved Edward from Twilight book series, and Troy reminded me a lot of him. You’ll know why when you read it.

Some part of the story felt over the top and unbelievable but I ignored them because rest of the book keeps you entertained.

I rated the book a 3.75 stars. An almost 4 stars.

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Other details
Author: Samantha Armstrong
Publishers: Koru House Press
Pub date: May 25 2019
Genre: NA Romance | YA Contemporary
Trigger warnings: Domestic violence, self harm, self injury, anxiety attacks

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99 Percent Mine |Book Review

I liked Sally Thorne’s first book ‘The Hating Game’ and was waiting to pick up her next book, ’99 Percent Mine’.

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This book is about Darcy Barrett, photographer-turned-bartender who is living her life away from parents and twin brother Jaime, in her grandmother’s house – a house that both the twins inherit after her death. Darcy has always been the outcast of the family coz Jaime outshines her and takes away all the attention and glory. Even the best photographer award she won when she was a teen? Jaime was the model and his ginormous head grows double its size after the award. The only thing she wants for herself and cannot have – Tom Valeska – who was first spotted by Darcy outside their house as a kid, invited into the family by Darcy, but taken ownership 99% by Jaime as his best friend. There’s always a constant struggle between the twins and Tom is the guy who balances them out. Now years later, Jaime wants to re-sell grandma’s house after restoring it to its former glory. And who, but Tom Valeska is the person he brings in for help.

I went in to the book expecting the same magic or witty banter thats in The Hating Game. Here, both Tom and Darcy bicker a lot and sometimes whatever Darcy does , didn’t make sense to me at all. I was this close to DNF’ng the book.

There’s this slow burn romance throughout the book and it was hella disappointing at how it felt dragging and lacking a spark. I mean both of them like each other, so what’s the point of dragging it till the end :O

The characters – Tom Valeska is portrayed as this perfect guy, a dream for every girl and the one Darcy keeps comparing with every other guy. But, I felt sad for him because of the way Darcy treats him??!! And Darcy – I hated her throughout the book. She was this self-entered, snobbish, whiny first world person and I know that flawed characters make the book realistic but this was too much to take in. She blurts things at random and is very unpredictable.

Overall, I went in with 100% expectations and felt defeated. The book doesn’t keep up with Sally Thorne’s debut but if you haven’t read her first book or read it and didn’t like it either, my recommendation would be to skip this one.

My rating 2.75 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.

“I was stuck in another small town, trapped in another universe populated by the kind of people who’d only ever seen faces like mine on their evening news, and I hated it.”

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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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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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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Once and for all – Book Review

I was in a terrible reading slump and decided to go for my favourite Ya author of all times – Sarah Dessen. I knew I would be out of the slump in no time but I also knew I would be crying heaps.

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Source: own Pic

Synopsis:

Louna, daughter of famed wedding planner Natalie Barrett, has seen every sort of wedding: on the beach, at historic mansions, in fancy hotels and clubs. Perhaps that’s why she’s cynical about happily-ever-after endings, especially since her own first love ended tragically. When Louna meets charming, happy-go-lucky serial dater Ambrose, she holds him at arm’s length. But Ambrose isn’t about to be discouraged, now that he’s met the one girl he really wants.

Sarah Dessen’s many, many fans will adore her latest, a richly satisfying, enormously entertaining story that has everything—humor, romance, and an ending both happy and imperfect, just like life itself.

The book revolves around wedding planning and should have been happy, because weddings are! But then Sarah Dessen is known for her books on family dynamics and how each story is so much relatable. The mother of the protagonist is a wedding planner but her own marriage life ended tragically and she is cynical when it comes to happily ever afters. So is her parter at work, William !! You can’t expect Louna to be any different given her tragedy in life.

Ambrose is fun-loving, easy-going and everything that Louna isn’t and she finds him irritating at the beginning. There wasn’t any Insta-love, and their relationship progresses slowly and beautifully.

Louna’s tragic past struck close to home because of me losing a friend couple of months back – the desperation of not-knowing and the falling apart after knowing.

The book is written in alternate time formats – past and present, but the beauty of it is, there aren’t any chapter titles to let you know its from the past and they aren’t exactly alternating… And that caught my attention because I liked reading about the Louna from both times and I liked being surprised to find myself reading an extract from the past after reading two chapters from the present. One was cynical and the other was love-struck. And especially after the tragedy is revealed, it hurt so much read to about it, I was bawling my eyes out 😦

Beautifully written, satirical and yet touching at the same time!

My rating : 4 stars

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More about the book

Author: Sarah Dessen

Publishers: Viking Books for Young Readers

Published on: June 2017

Source: E-book purchased from Amazon.in

Pages: 363

Standalone|YA Contemporary|