Category Archives: netgalley

After She Wrote Him: A review

AFTER SHE WROTE HIM
AFTER SHE WROTE HIM

Thanks to Netgalley for this fantastic read!

My God! This was an astounding read. I have never before come across a novel that so well threaded together the lines of literary fiction and crime. So well did this weaving take place that I was facing a dilemma – do I hurry up and finish the book at one go (like I would for any crime novel), or do I savour it and live through it a day at a time (as I do for literary fiction). That is to say, I was torn between my love for it as a crime novel, and contrastingly as literary fiction.

AFTER SHE WROTE HIM is a pioneer in reaching for what has never been reached out for (at least in my humble reading career). If there are more books in this particular niche, I owe it to this, my first such novel, for introducing to this world.

Literary fiction novels have the capacity to make me think and introspect quite a bit. On the other hand, I am a criminal psychologist, trying to figure out the mystery when I read crime fiction. Bringing these together was an utter delight to my mind fortress and I applaud the writer for her superb skill in doing so.

The characters are alive – they jump out of the novel right at you – both with their realistic subtlety and also with the fantastic phantasm that the author creates. I lived through Madeline and I breathed through Edward. And may I just say that this twists your mind? You are left grasping for straws as you oscillate between deciding what is real and what is not.

My only reason for rating this book a 4.5 star and taking away the 0.5 was for the ending which left me pining for a more solid end. But that is not to say that I did not like the ending – in fact, I did. It was, at the same time, more solid and real than it could ever have been. But the book transforms you and you are left, longing to be a part of the lives of these two main characters.

I have really loved this book and can only try my best to persuade you to read it soon! Please do! It is a tour de force!
Thanks to #netgalley for #AfterSheWroteHim !

Check out the book on Amazon, or add it to your Goodreads TBR list!

Other popular posts: How to Read More Books!, How to Ace Online University, Delving Into Audiobooks! etc

Temporary Wife Temptation: A modern-day romance!

Temporary Wife Temptation
Temporary Wife Temptation

This was a modern-day marriage-of-convenience story that was a beautiful combination of tradition, romance and family values. I love how the author has given an Eastern twist to it – since most of the stories that follow this trope are set in the western world. I feel that when it comes to the Eastern side of the world, it just gets a lot more complicated. We have a family to deal with, we have extended family to deal with and so on.

I loved how these characters were well rounded. Apart from the budding romance, there are also the subplots – mostly the hurdles the two characters are trying to overcome. Garrett and Natalie are two people who are goal-oriented and know what they want. Garrett was the perfect alpha male – he was so encouraging and applauded Natalie’s business acumen.

Check it out on Goodreads!

I also loved that he was not the obsessive possessive lover that seems to be the equation nowadays. The way they blossomed was great – both as a couple as well as individually. The power imbalance, however, surprisingly was not much of a deterrent in their relationship and I huffed in satisfaction at that. Also, the sexual build-up was great although they did seem to have instant chemistry.

Check it out on Amazon!

However, one thing that I did not particularly like was how each chapter would begin suddenly. There was no thread of continuity there and I would have appreciated it if there were. However, it was a quick and interesting love story! I rated it  4/5 stars!

A fantastic thriller: Good Girls Lie

Good Girls Lie by J. T Ellison was my first read of 2020. I really enjoyed this book and it ended up being a 3.75 star read for me. It was an amazing thriller!

Good girls lie
Good Girls Lie by J. T. Ellison

In my stop today for this blog tour of GOOD GIRLS LIE, by HarperCollins, I’m sharing my review of this amazing read!

An atmospheric thriller

The synopsis was very interesting firstly and drew me in with a moth to a flame. On that note, there are many spider metaphors in the book that kind of creeped me out. Moreover, I love the atmospheric setting of the book.

Shifts in narration

However, when there were shifts between certain two figures (I dare not give any spoilers but if you have read the book you will understand) and I would get kind of confused as to who is who. This specific thing took me some time to get used to and when they happened I admit I get a bit frazzled and confused.

A thrilling setting

Apart from this small fact, I enjoyed this book. The whole private boarding school, which is exclusively for girls – all of them privileged – was a delicious setting. The dynamics and hierarchy among the girls – both good and bad – felt very real and in a way, a bit sad. Why do girls see other girls as competition and create problems for them? Why not build each other up?

Character growth

 I think that the character of Ash could have grown a bit more. Compared to the length of the novel and the time span in it, she could have been a bit more developed by the end. I love the secret societies vibe that permeates throughout. SInce I have always wanted to be a huge old mansion full of secret pathways and tunnels and hence, I lived through each and every moment while those girls were traveling along with them. Of course, the hazing was cruel and unfair and extreme.

Verdict

The truth kept dangling just in front of me and I tried to grab on to it but only towards the end did I finally start to piece together what was actually the situation here. I really enjoyed the book and the whole secret societies vibe makes me want to pick up Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo ASAP!

Check out the books on Goodreads and Amazon!

You can also check out the best books I read in 2019!

Poetry that rocks! Swallowtail and Atticus!

The Dark Between Stars, Swallowtail

Hey guys! So today I have two poetry recommendations for you. I read both poetry collections recently and I adored them for their raw individuality.

Swallowtail by Brenna Twohy

Swallowtail: A deep dive into the dissection of popular culture, and how the brightness and horrors of it can be mirrors into the daily lived experiences of women in America.

Swallowtail by Brenna Twohy was a great read. The most prominent themes include loss, grief, and coping. The words penned by the author, though burgeoning with the grief of a broken heart, are poignant and resonates with the deepest sadness in the reader. Rape culture has also been addressed here and it is stark in its imagery and leaves the reader gasping. Pop Culture References from Survivor as well as Harry Potter have also been brought in.

I absolutely loved it and rated it 4/5 stars! Including here, links to Amazon, Goodreads

Poetry by Atticus

I admit I like THE DARK BETWEEN STARS much more than I did LOVE HER WILD. This one does not only revolve around love but also delves into the deeper themes of self-love, etc. There is a certain dichotomy and duality with both the happiness and the sadness that trouble us. In this collection, the poet writes about falling in love, being in a relationship with someone, and then the aftermath of a breakup as well. He includes scenes from Paris, Jazz clubs, wines, sunsets, etc. Thus the whole collection is a sensory experience that is experienced wholeheartedly by the reader. As such, it is as if the reader is in the moment, experiencing this whole slew of emotions and the beauty lives on.

I rated this book 4/5 stars!

Recommended poetry reads:

  1. Lord of the Butterflies
  2. The Octopus Curse
  3. Walk With Wings
  4. Unlocked Silences, Ease

The Third Mrs. Durst, by Ann Aguirre, 2019

Title: The Third Mrs. Durst

Author: Ann Aguirre

Publisher: Midnight Ink

Publishing date: August 8th, 2019

Genre: Mystery and Thrillers

Format: Kindle ebook

Language: English

Synopsis:

Some people just need killing.

Marlena Altizer Durst lives in her husband’s shadow. He controls her every move—what she wears, the food she eats, and the friends she’s allowed to make. If she disobeys, there are…consequences. And he has all the power.

To outsiders, it seems that she leads a fairy-tale life. But nobody ever wonders if Cinderella was happy after she married the prince. Marlena has traded freedom and safety for luxurious imprisonment, and most days, that seems like a bad bargain. Death may be the only exit she’s allowed. Just like his first wife. And his second. Unless she flips the script.

Some people just need killing.

Praise:

The Third Mrs. Durst is a slow, dark burn that leads to a fantastic explosion of an ending.”—Victoria Helen Stone, bestselling author of Jane Doe

My review:

I received a review copy from Netgalley in return for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

The character of Marlena was a very dynamic one – I found her ingenious and very clever. She is unscrupulous in going after what she wants. This determination of hers is a defining trait of her character, I think. However, I did not find her character arc very significant. Yes, she meets with a catastrophe – a horrific climax, but despite the positions it puts her in, and the subsequent direction her actions take her, I did not find her growth to be very believable.

The plot however, was very original and unique. I have not come across something like this before, and it is fantastic, despite the slow pace it assumes. Although the real reason why Marlena does what she does is rather justified, it comes somewhat as a bland surprise, but fails to uplift the overall effect. The romance that takes place in the second half of the story is just too sudden, I feel, and it gave the disjointed effect throughout. I could not just sink into the story as there was something that seemed to always hold me back from truly enjoying it.

The character of Mr. Durst on the other hand is the hero that gives the enjoyment to the reader, however twisted. Although he is not essentially ‘the good guy’ in the story, his assertiveness makes the book a much more enjoyable ride as it had been a burden on his wife’s shoulders.

The themes of love, hate, revenge, mental dilemma and struggles were all quite well portrayed in the plot that made it stronger. The whole book seemed to read like a movie with a brilliant plot, but poor or somewhat nice acting by the actors.

I think that this book was overrated and could not enjoy it much. The cover was not that good either and this is not a book I would recommend to others, honestly.

Verdict:

I rate this book a 3.5/5 stars.

About the reviewer:

Nayanika Saikia, is one of the foremost book reviewers from the North-east and Assam, and is also an admin for the official India bookstagram page on Instagram. She publishes her own reviews and recommendations for poetry, fiction, non-fiction etc. on her bookstagram account @pretty_little_bibliophile which won the NorthEast Creator Awards 2018, as well as in daily newspapers, online magazines etc.  She can be contacted at nayanikasaikia98@gmail.com .

Every Ugly Word , by Aimee L. Slater, 2014

Title: Every Ugly Word

Author: Aimee L. Slater

Publisher: Alloy Entertainment

Genre: Contemporary/Mental-health/YA

Format: Kindle e-book

Language: English

No. of pages: 257

Synopsis:

When seventeen-year-old Ashley Watson walks through the halls of her high school bullies taunt and shove her. She can’t go a day without fighting with her mother. And no matter how hard she tries, she can’t make her best friend, Matt, fall in love with her. But Ashley also has something no one else does: a literal glimpse into the future. When Ashley looks into the mirror, she can see her twenty-three-year-old self.

Her older self has been through it all already—she endured the bullying, survived the heartbreak, and heard every ugly word her classmates threw at her. But her older self is also keeping a dark secret: Something terrible is about to happen to Ashley. Something that will change her life forever. Something even her older self is powerless to stop.

#1 Amazon Bestseller: Books for Teens (Oct 2015)

My review:

I received a review copy from Netgalley in return for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

I read this book as a part of the Underrated Book Club by Kajree, for May 2019. #underratedreadsbookclub

I am happy I read this book myself. Being a high-schooler is really tough. I sometimes feel lucky that I never had to face it.

The protagonist Ashley is a really dynamic character – we see her facing a lot of issues that have led her to where she is presently, which is to say, when the book starts. In the beginning, we may infer that Ashley is really only wrapped around her own head but as the story progresses, we kind of see her as a victim and really feel bad for her. The themes of bullying, both at home and school, and consequently, mental health; of facing the consequences of one’s decisions etc. the constant bullying is heartbreaking to read about and not at all a pleasure. It really surprises me still, to see how people can be so unkind to others sometimes.

Mom twitched under my glare. “There are plenty of parents who wouldn’t allow you to go tonight, Ashley. And I’m sure they’d all mean well. But if a girl like you wants to keep a guy’s interest – “ “Are you seriously telling me to use sex to keep a guy interested?” Her lips thinned. “I’m telling you I would understand if you did.”

Can you imagine what it would feel like if someone’s mother says that to her? Would it not obviously affect the self-esteem of the person?

And thus, it is no wonder to me when the psychologist says this to Ashely,

“It concerns me, though, that you are willing to accept such a vaguely defined relationship. It says a lot about how you gauge your own value”.

I quite liked Matt although he really pissed me off at times. (Why is it that boys are so blind sometimes?) nonetheless, he is quite a really good friend and towards the end, we actually see that he has stayed true over the years. The author has portrayed him as a real fleshed out character with flaws of his own and that really gives a realistic nature to the narrative.

The element of the fantasy and the magical realism, through the use of the mirror selves, is great and adds another spatial depth to the book. Mostly, this book is hopeful and I love it for that.

Despite all the hate and the pain, Ashley emerges victorious and I don’t know what that can be called except hopeful for the rest of us readers as well as for herself. The author has also made Ashley so real, it is almost as if I can stretch and touch her.

Verdict:

I really loved reading this book and I rate it a 4/5 stars. 

About the reviewer:

Nayanika Saikia, is one of the foremost book reviewers from the North-east and Assam, and is also an admin for the official India bookstagram page on Instagram. She publishes her own reviews and recommendations for poetry, fiction, non-fiction etc. on her bookstagram account @pretty_little_bibliophile which won the NorthEast Creator Awards 2018, as well as in daily newspapers, online magazines etc.  She can be contacted at nayanikasaikia98@gmail.com .

Happily and Madly, by Alexis Bass

Title: Happily and Madly

Author: Alexis Bass

Publishing date: 21 May, 2019

Publisher: Macmillan-Tor/Forge

Genre: Teens and YA

Format: Netgalley e-arc

Synopsis:

Alexis Bass’ Happily and Madly is a mature, twisty, compulsively readable YA suspense novel about a young girl who embraces a fate bound in love and mystery. 

Maris Brown has been told two things about her destiny:

1. She will fall happily and madly in love.
2. She could be dead before she turns eighteen.

The summer before that fateful birthday, Maris is in the wealthy beach town of Cross Cove with her estranged father and his new family–and the infamous Duvals. Since the youngest member of the Duval family, Edison, is back from college and back in the arms of Maris’s new stepsister, her summer looks to be a long string of lazy days on the Duval’s lush beach.

But Edison is hiding something. And the more Maris learns about him, the more she’s given signs that she should stay as far away from him as possible. As wrong as it is, Maris is drawn to him. Around Edison, she feels truly alive and she’s not willing to give that up. Even if it means a collision course with destiny.

My review:

I received a review copy from Netgalley in return for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

I think that Happily and Madly was a great psychological novel. In one way it really reminded me of WE WERE LIARS by E. Lockhart. I found the protagonist – Maris a very sharp girl with lots of potential. Like Sepp (another character that I absolutely loved) said, she does not ever “miss a thing”. The characters in this book all have their own secrets and the way the author goes about them is manifested in some very fluid writing. Chelsea is also a person I liked – she is so unlike what one would expect a stepsister to be… the author has made some really great female representations, where not everyone is trying to one-up the other and it is refreshing. George, Trisha, Pheobe, Edison,Oswald, Warren, Sepp, Karen as well as Michael and Katherine Ellis, Richard and Linda Ellis, and also Gloria and Renee, form the background feel. The backdrop of the  novel is very relaxing and juxtaposed with this thrumming mystery. I was so glad I read it when I did – in the beginning of summer. The book deals with many themes such as putting oneself out there, with the chance of being completely rejected, and to turn the vulnerability out on oneself. It also shows what it is like – the unexpected closeness we sometimes feel for people we have just met – like Maris and Finn, or even Maris and Chelsea. When Maris is once thinking in retrospection, of when she was in the fortune teller’s bathroom when the women client was afraid she was dying, the fortune teller had told her to do whatever was necessary for her to feel alive. Maybe that is why Maris takes risks – not only because she does not want to have regret but also because she wants to feel alive.

Although it was a really enjoyable read, I felt as if the ending was a bit rushed.

Verdict:

I rate this book a 3.75/5 stars.

About the reviewer:

Nayanika Saikia, is one of the foremost book reviewers from the North-east and Assam, and is also an admin for the official India bookstagram page on Instagram. She publishes her own reviews and recommendations for poetry, fiction, non-fiction etc. on her bookstagram account @pretty_little_bibliophile which won the NorthEast Creator Awards 2018, as well as in daily newspapers, online magazines etc.  She can be contacted at nayanikasaikia98@gmail.com .

Rituals, by Lorcan Black

Title: Rituals

Author: Lorcan Black

Illustrated by: Tim Durham

Publisher: April Gloaming

Publishing date: 31 May, 2019

Genre: Poetry/Arts and Photography

Format: E-arc

Language: English

Synopsis:

In the search for truth, for meaning, for purpose, Black’s poetry illuminates the wonder in all of us. With petrifying portrayals of mental institutions, doctors, nurses, Egyptian mythos, all intertwined in a mixture of natural visions and harbors, this collection fortifies our nature to hunt for a life worth living.

The ritualistic aspects are dismal, at best, and speak to the monotony of the modern world and that hopeless feeling of being part of the herd. Readers will find themselves clawing their way through the muck and grime of the everyday, finding that maybe only love can save them, or at least, the hope for love.

My review:

I received a review copy from the Netgalley in return for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. Please do keep an open mind while reading my review – everybody interprets different texts differently.

“Pale stars wink jealousies at my feet and I walk godly.” Lorcán Black’s Rituals is the restless, roaming lovechild of Neruda and Trakl, with some fiery genetic material borrowed from Plath, as well. These poems walk toward and through wreckage at once ordinary and surreal—a family, an asylum, a body learning fraught desires, the “eerie / whiteness” of Antarctica, and a “window suck[ing] its slice of moon / in the mirror of its mouth.” Piercing in its vulnerability, this book often achieves a magical authority at the same time. Black dares to speak in the voice of a sorcerer, an oracle, a god: “Watch: I shall the call the elements, / I shall cast sacrilegious circles in sand.” This is a collection of dark yet gleaming marvels. – Chen Chen.

I recently read Rituals by Lorcan Black and I was blown away by his writing. There is an ethereal undertone to all of the poems and it gives a magical effect to the entire narrative. The poet talks on various issues like innocence, religious supremacy, judgmental attitudes, forgiveness, of mental health and illness, suicide and self-harm, of being trapped inside one’s own mind, our changing personalities, war and its effects, gender roles, motherhood and parenthood as a whole, about the unknown, etc. Among all the poems, there is such a vast diversity in the themes that I believe each reader will take away something from reading them. There is a unique writing style and coupled with the unique lines, I think this is a beautiful collection – utterly profound and deep. I shall surely be returning to this one again.  And I recommend this one anyone – fans of Neruda, Trakl, Sylvia Plath, and Shirley Jackson definitely go for this one.

Verdict:

I rate this one a 4.5/5 stars!

About the reviewer:

Nayanika Saikia, is one of the foremost book reviewers from the North-east and Assam, and is also an admin for the official India bookstagram page on Instagram. She publishes her own reviews and recommendations for poetry, fiction, non-fiction etc. on her bookstagram account @pretty_little_bibliophile which won the NorthEast Creator Awards 2018, as well as in daily newspapers, online magazines etc.  She can be contacted at nayanikasaikia98@gmail.com .

The Gentleman Sinner, by Jodi Ellen Malpes, 2019

Title: The Gentleman Sinner

Author: Jodi Ellen Malpas

Publisher: Forever (Grand Central Publishing)

Genre: Romance

Format: E-arc

Language: English

Synopsis:

An all-the-feels novel of fierce love overcoming a dark past from the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling THIS MAN series.

Izzy White knows of the darkness in this world. After all, she escaped it long ago. Determined not to let her past beat her, Izzy has a secure, stable life with a job she loves in nursing. But one act of kindness will completely upend everything she’s so carefully built-putting her right back in the crosshairs of danger she’s been so desperate to avoid.

When Theo Kane shows up like a knight in shining armor, Izzy can’t help thinking she’s been saved from one threat and exposed to another. His imposing physique, the harsh lines of his face, and the wariness of everyone who comes close are just a few clues to Theo Kane’s notorious reputation. The man is positively terrifying. But with Izzy, he’s tender and a complete gentleman, and her fascination with the mysterious beast of a man becomes too powerful for her to walk away.

As Theo’s demons come to light, running becomes even more impossible. And yet staying together could doom them both.

My review:

I received a review copy from the publishers in return for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

I think that the book will prove to be a great read. It is a romance book, yes, but I reckon that it will not be just that. From the brief portion that I did read, I could easily infer that the author will also deal with a number of issues through the characters. There is a lot of potential with the story, but mind you, it has the usual innocent girl- dominant hero trope that some do not like. Keeping aside that matter however, it also seems that the plot will ensure the development of the protagonists thus delivering us great character arcs. I am also curious to know how the author will bring about the main conflict and then lead to the climax.

Verdict:

I think that the novel has great potential and from what l have read, I rate it a 4/5 stars!

About the reviewer:

Nayanika Saikia, is one of the foremost book reviewers from the North-east and Assam, and is also an admin for the official India bookstagram page on Instagram. She publishes her own reviews and recommendations for poetry, fiction, non-fiction etc. on her bookstagram account @pretty_little_bibliophile which won the NorthEast Creator Awards 2018, as well as in daily newspapers, online magazines etc.  She can be contacted at nayanikasaikia98@gmail.com .

The Printed Letter Bookshop, Katherine Reay

Title: The Printed Letter Bookshop

Author: Katherine Reay

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Publishing date: 14 May, 2019

Genre: Romance/Women’s fiction

Format: E-arc

Language: English

No. of pages: 352

Synopsis:

“Powerful, enchanting, and spirited, this novel will delight.” —Patti Callahan, bestselling author of Becoming Mrs. Lewis

Love, friendship, and family find a home at the Printed Letter Bookshop

One of Madeline Cullen’s happiest childhood memories is of working with her Aunt Maddie in the quaint and cozy Printed Letter Bookshop. But by the time Madeline inherits the shop nearly twenty years later, family troubles and her own bitter losses have hardened Madeline’s heart toward her once-treasured aunt—and the now struggling bookshop left in her care.

While Madeline intends to sell the shop as quickly as possible, the Printed Letter’s two employees have other ideas. Reeling from a recent divorce, Janet finds sanctuary within the books and within the decadent window displays she creates. Claire, though quieter than the acerbic Janet, feels equally drawn to the daily rhythms of the shop and its loyal clientele, finding a renewed purpose within its walls.

When Madeline’s professional life falls apart, and a handsome gardener upends all her preconceived notions, she questions her plans and her heart. Has she been too quick to dismiss her aunt’s beloved shop? And even if she has, the women’s best combined efforts may be too little, too late.

The Printed Letter Bookshop is a captivating story of good books, a testament to the beauty of new beginnings, and a sweet reminder of the power of friendship.” —Rachel McMillan, author of Murder in the City of Liberty

My review:

I received a review copy from the publishers in return for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

The Printed Letter Bookshop is just as amazing a read as the title makes it sound. I am joyful that I could read it before it officially publishes. Katherine Reay has done a great job with all the aspects of the novel.

Firstly, talking about the characters – this is very much a novel of growth – a bildungsroman of sorts. We see the women emerging out at the end as totally different, albeit better versions of themselves by the end of the novel. I found it very inspirational to say the truth. The author portrays these women as persons of their own – faulty, yes, but human in their hearts. Each undergoes an odyssey (see what I did there?!) different from the others’ and it changes them for the better – as well as those around them, and their inter relationships. Thus, the character arcs were done in a very realistic manner and one could find traces of oneself in each of these three women. The character of Maddie is very significant. Like it is pointed out by the characters in the book itself, her presence permeates throughout the book and this influence is very much like that of the eponymous Rebecca from Daphne du Maurier’s classic.

The plot is well laid out, although this is very much a character driven novel. The themes of family, acceptance, friendships,  dealing with one’s own choices, literature (my favourite, I believe!) as well as love – both romantic and familial, understanding, forgiveness, guilty conscience etc. are very important ones that the author explores through all the characters in the book.

The narrative is entirely engrossing and I loved every bit of it. The allusions to the different books were also a plus point and the list at the end is one I am definitely going to cross every book off (I intend to read all of them)

Verdict:

I absolutely love this book and I rate it 4.5/5 stars!

About the reviewer:

Nayanika Saikia, is one of the foremost book reviewers from the North-east and Assam, and is also an admin for the official India bookstagram page on Instagram. She publishes her own reviews and recommendations for poetry, fiction, non-fiction etc. on her bookstagram account @pretty_little_bibliophile which won the NorthEast Creator Awards 2018, as well as in daily newspapers, online magazines etc.  She can be contacted at nayanikasaikia98@gmail.com .

Masquerade, by Cyrus Parker

Title: Masquerade

Author: Cyrus Parker

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Publishing Date: 7 May, 2019

Genre: Poetry

Format: E-Arc

Language: English

No. of pages:  178

Synopsis:

Non-binary poet Cyrus Parker returns with an all-new collection of poetry and prose dedicated to those struggling to find their own identity in a world that often forces one into the confines of what’s considered “socially acceptable.”
Divided into three parts and illustrated by Parker, masquerade grapples with topics such as the never-ending search for acceptance, gender identity, and relationships, and the struggle to recognize your own face after hiding behind another for so long.

My review:

I received a review copy from the publishers in return for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

I believe that including Poe’s lines in the very beginning is a brilliant stroke in itself. In hindsight, it really says a lot about the poetry the reader will be delving into as she flips the pages.

The poems deal with various topics such as abandonment, alcohol abuse, death, gender dysphoria, harassment, as well as intimate partner abuse, lost innocence, identity, chasing your dream, and the masks that people wear. Self-care also is explicitly stated by the poet to be practiced after reading the poems and it was real advice, because I did have to do it in the end. The reason behind this, I believe, is that the poems are so real and vivid and so reflective of our own lives that it is impossible for a reader not to find atleast a couple of poems with which she can absolutely relate. The poems are raw and poignant, and that furthers this cause.   Moreover, the illustrations also provide a nice yet related break.

Verdict:

I enjoyed the poems and I rate this collection a 4/5 stars!

About the reviewer:

Nayanika Saikia, is one of the foremost book reviewers from the North-east and Assam, and is also an admin for the official India bookstagram page on Instagram. She publishes her own reviews and recommendations for poetry, fiction, non-fiction etc. on her bookstagram account @pretty_little_bibliophile which won the NorthEast Creator Awards 2018, as well as in daily newspapers, online magazines etc.  She can be contacted at nayanikasaikia98@gmail.com .

Lord of the Butterflies, by Andrea Gibson, 2018

Title: Lord of the Butterflies

Author: Andrea Gibson

Publisher: Button Poetry

Genre: Poetry/LGBTQIA

Format: Netgalley e-ARC

Language: English

No. of pages: 86

Synopsis:

Andrea Gibson’s latest collection is a masterful showcase from the poet whose writing and performances have captured the hearts of millions. With artful and nuanced looks at gender, romance, loss, and family, Lord of the Butterflies is a new peak in Gibson’s career. Each emotion here is deft and delicate, resting inside of imagery heavy enough to sink the heart, while giving the body wings to soar.

My review:

I received a review copy from Netgalley in return for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

I LOVED this collection! Lord of the Butterflies deals with issues such as homosexuality, being a transgender person, dealing with this as a child, and accepting this about oneself; bullying, rebellion; familial love, family drama; depression, substance abuse, acceptance, homophobia, suicide, and the hurt and pain associated with it; violence, war, and more dun violence as well as white supremacy and the will to stay alive.

The poet uses beautiful lyrical lines that just drive the knife deeper into the heart, so to speak – because all of the poems are so poignant and meaningful and relatable in today’s context, that you cannot help but be sucked in, to the magic. Crying while reading a fiction book is pretty common for me, but I even cried while reading these poems for myself.

The poem I absolutely loved was ‘Orlando’, followed by ‘Boomerang Valentine’, ‘Thankstaking’, ‘America Wakes in the Middle of the Night’, ‘White Feminism [Noun]’, ‘Tincture’, ‘America Relaoding’, ‘Depression [Verb]’, ‘Give Her’, ‘Until We Act’, ‘Fight for Love’, ‘Letter to the Editor’, ‘Living Proof’, ‘First Love’ and ‘Daytime, Somewhere’.

Verdict:

One of the best poetry collection I have ever read, I rate Lord of the Butterflies a solid 5/5!

About the reviewer:

Nayanika Saikia, is one of the foremost book reviewers from the North-east and Assam, and is also an admin for the official India bookstagram page on Instagram. She publishes her own reviews and recommendations for poetry, fiction, non-fiction etc. on her bookstagram account @pretty_little_bibliophile which won the NorthEast Creator Awards 2018, as well as in daily newspapers, online magazines etc.  She can be contacted at nayanikasaikia98@gmail.com .

Between You and these Bones, by F.D Soul, 14 May 2019

Title: Between You and These Bones

Author: F. D. Soul

Publisher: Andrews McMeel publishing

Releasing on: 14th May, 2019

Genre: Poetry

Format: Ebook

Language: English

No. of pages: 194

Synopsis:

Acclaimed Instagram poet F.D. Soul (@featherdownsoul) debuts a new poetry collection,telling her own invigorating, unapologetic narrative of love, loss, and adversity. Soul’s words pulse, they are alive on the page, attesting to the significance of Between You and These Bones in the modern world.

From celebrated New Zealand poetess F.D. Soul comes her highly anticipated second collection of poetry, prose, illustrations, and wisdom. Her messages grapple with relationships: interpersonal relationships, her relationship with herself, and the relationship between poetry and the world. Unchaptered and raw, Between You and These Bones reads much like a memoir or meditation yet maintains all the musicality of poetry. “This book is a garden, a hymn, a forgiveness. A falling back in love. It is all the pieces of light you forgot you held, remembered.”

My review:

I received a review copy for Netgalley in return for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

This collection of poems was a welcome break to the otherwise fiction reading that I had been engrossed in for a long time now. The poems were beautiful and spoke on familial love, mental health and healing – and starting to open up about it, as well as about people who help us sope with their kindness and love; human vulnerability of opening up oneself to others; hope, prayer and faith; family and the “weight of generations”; the act of consent/societal pressure and why saying ‘no’ makes us feel guilty; the difference between living and being alive; the strength and power of a mother’s love; the understanding of one’s own qualities and accepting them and subsequently working on them; being human and dealing with loss and breakups and many others. The poet also talks about growing up, falling in love, the beauty in everyday objects, chasing and living your dreams, gratitude, fighting for your life, living one’s life, self-empowerment, memoris, the power of love, the act of giving; about when we want to give up, it is the human body that goes on, and how poetry is the poet’s prayer.

The poet’s writing style is also very novel and experiments with the format of the syntax etc. and complex lines are used. There are many layers to the meanings. Also, I feel that there was also a lot of repetition in the poems. The poet often uses “which is to say” and “but God”/”God!”/:and God”, which makes the words lose their evocative power at times.

Verdict:

This was a pretty good book and I rate it a 3/5 stars.

About the reviewer:

Nayanika Saikia, is one of the foremost book reviewers from the North-east and Assam, and is also an admin for the official India bookstagram page on Instagram. She publishes her own reviews and recommendations for poetry, fiction, non-fiction etc. on her bookstagram account @pretty_little_bibliophile which won the NorthEast Creator Awards 2018, as well as in daily newspapers, online magazines etc.  She can be contacted at nayanikasaikia98@gmail.com .

To Best the Boys, by Mary Weber, 2019

Title: To Best the Boys

Author: Mary Weber

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy/Teens and YA

Format: Ebook

Language: English

No. of pages: 336

Synopsis:

Don a disguise.

Survive the labyrinth.

Best the boys.

In a thrilling new fantasy from the bestselling author of the Storm Siren Trilogy, one girl makes a stand against society and enters a world made exclusively for boys.

Every year for the past fifty-four years, the residents of Pinsbury Port have received a mysterious letter inviting all eligible-aged boys to compete for an esteemed scholarship to the all-male Stemwick University. The poorer residents look to see if their names are on the list. The wealthier look to see how likely their sons are to survive. And Rhen Tellur opens it to see if she can derive which substances the ink and parchment are created from, using her father’s microscope.

In the province of Caldon, where women train in wifely duties and men pursue collegiate education, sixteen-year-old Rhen Tellur wants nothing more than to become a scientist. As the poor of her seaside town fall prey to a deadly disease, she and her father work desperately to find a cure. But when her mum succumbs to it as well? Rhen decides to take the future into her own hands—through the annual all-male scholarship competition.

With her cousin, Seleni, by her side, the girls don disguises and enter Mr. Holm’s labyrinth, to best the boys and claim the scholarship prize. Except not everyone is ready for a girl who doesn’t know her place. And not everyone survives the deadly maze.

Welcome to the labyrinth.

My review:

I received a review copy for Netgalley in return for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

When I read the description of the book, I was mesmerized. To Best the Boys has all the elements that make an amazing fantasy read, replete with romance, adventure, a bit of family drama and friendship. With a dash of some je ne sais quoi, the author has created a veritable masterpiece.

Throughout the novel, we see a strong and dynamic female lead in Rhen Tellur, who pursues her passions without being afraid of what society will say. Her cousin, Seleni is placed against her, and oh! What an amazing contrast. We see Seleni as what you would call a ‘girly girl’, but the her own words when she says that there is the difference between them both – Rhen was more career-oriented, but Seleni would like to get married and have kids with her beau, is a joyful one. It speaks of the essence of feminism – a feminist does not have to be always a career oriented person or such as so many believe, but a woman in her own right – who knows herself and accepts herself as she is. Rhen and Seleni are great role-models. They do not take any nonsense from their male counterparts and dish out just as well as they get.

the plot actually spans just a few days – under a week, but the narrative is wrapped up in such a way that as a reader, as you start reading, you get sucked in and get absorbed with it. The sci-fi element in the book is also fantastic and curious. The twist regarding the identity of The Holm is also an unexpected one albeit happily welcome. 

And I do not think I shall elaborate much on the beautiful romance, which, although not placed at the center, is really inspiring. The respect and support these two lovers give each other is ideal. 

One problem that I found was that the sentences often tended to be long and rambling and I am not sure if I am a fan of that. But the overall effect was great and gelled well with the narrative.

Verdict:

I really enjoyed reading this book and I rate it a 4/5 stars.

About the reviewer:

Nayanika Saikia, is one of the foremost book reviewers from the North-east and Assam, and is also an admin for the official India bookstagram page on Instagram. She publishes her own reviews and recommendations for poetry, fiction, non-fiction etc. on her bookstagram account @pretty_little_bibliophile which won the NorthEast Creator Awards 2018, as well as in daily newspapers, online magazines etc.  She can be contacted at nayanikasaikia98@gmail.com .

Never Again: Moving On From Narcissistic Abuse and Other Toxic Relationships, by Dr. Sarah Davis, 2019

Title: Never Again: Moving On From Narcissistic Abuse and Other Toxic Relationships

Author: Dr. Sarah Davis

Publisher: Troubadour Publishing Ltd.

Publishing Date: 16 March, 2019

Genre: Nonfiction/Self-help

Format: Ebook

Language: English

No. of pages:

Synopsis:

Dr. Sarah Davies draws from her clinical expertise, largely gained from working with individuals at her Harley Street practice in London, as well as from her personal experiences with narcissistic abuse, to put together this practical guide to understanding and moving on from toxic relationships.
If you have experienced narcissistic abuse and want to avoid a repeat experience, Never Again – moving on from narcissistic abuse and other toxic relationships can help you to:
• Learn about Narcissism & identify Narcissistic Abuse
• Develop tools and coping strategies including emotional regulation, mindfulness and grounding techniques
• Learn a range of practical tips and tools to break the cycle of abuse.
• Learn a 4-step refocus tool helping you to move on more quickly
• Work on your self-esteem, values, self-compassion and forgiveness
• Address any unhelpful thinking or beliefs that may be holding you back
• Learn about trauma and narcissistic abuse and how to manage emotional overwhelm or distress
• Learn about healthy boundaries and how to hold them
• Develop clearer, healthier communication
In this new book, Dr. Davies shows readers how to identify narcissistic abuse, but also the tools needed to move on and potentially end destructive relationship patterns once and for all.

My review:

I received a review copy for Netgalley in return for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

I really like the systematic nature, which the author has undertaken to talk about this issue. As a reader I think it really helps in the healing process – apart from being a self-help book, it is also a practical guide as it takes the reader by the hand and help him or her to recover. In this, it has proved a very practical and useful tool.

Bringing in the abuse factor little by little and then relating it to a relationship (in the surprisingly quite a few cases that it appears in), makes it a smooth transition for the reader to understand. The author has kept the psychological well-being of the reader in mid, for she does not spring facts suddenly at the reader thus shocking him/her, but by slowly transitioning in a slow manner.

Acceptance is a significant phase in this situation and the author has done it in a good manner. She then leads the way to understanding and realizing if one’s partner is a narcissist, and then moving ahead. Her research is very fact based and as such, increases the dependability of the text. Lastly, she also talks about recovery, which is perhaps the most important post stage. The author also guides the reader in developing a new mindset – one that is supportive of the person’s own being and how compassion and forgiveness goes a long way. Apart from the ‘victims’, the author also addresses the friends and family, for which she scores one more amazing point!

On a personal front, I think the book has been useful. It made me realize that in the end, we really need to take care of our own selves.

Verdict:

I quite enjoyed the book except where I felt that it was a bit too repetitive for my taste. Overall, helpful read. I rate it 4/5!

About the reviewer:

Nayanika Saikia, is one of the foremost book reviewers from the North-east and Assam, and is also an admin for the official India bookstagram page on Instagram. She publishes her own reviews and recommendations for poetry, fiction, non-fiction etc. on her bookstagram account @pretty_little_bibliophile which won the NorthEast Creator Awards 2018, as well as in daily newspapers, online magazines etc.  She can be contacted at nayanikasaikia98@gmail.com .

Vivienne Westwood, by Isabel Sanchez Vegara, 2019

Title: Small People Big Dreams: Vivienne Westwood

Author: Isabel Sanchez Vegara

Publisher: Quarto Publishing Group – Frances Lincoln Children’s Books

Genre: Children’s Non-fiction

Format: Ebook

Language: Language

No. of pages: 32

Synopsis:

New in the Little People, BIG DREAMS series, discover the life of Vivienne Westwood, the flame-haired fashion designer and impresario. 

When Vivienne was a young woman, she wasn’t sure how a working class girl from England could make a living in the art world. But after discovering her passion for design and jewelry making, she erupted onto the fashion scene with a bang. Vivienne’s designs became iconic, and she became famous for letting her clothes speak for themselves. This moving book features stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, including a biographical timeline with historical photos and a detailed profile of the designer’s life.

Little People, BIG DREAMS is a best-selling series of books and educational games that explore the lives of outstanding people, from designers and artists to scientists and activists. All of them achieved incredible things, yet each began life as a child with a dream.

This empowering series offers inspiring messages to children of all ages, in a range of formats. The board books are told in simple sentences, perfect for reading aloud to babies and toddlers. The hardcover versions present expanded stories for beginning readers. Boxed gift sets allow you to collect a selection of the books by theme. Paper dolls, learning cards, matching games, and other fun learning tools provide even more ways to make the lives of these role models accessible to children.

Inspire the next generation of outstanding people who will change the world with Little People, BIG DREAMS!

My review:

This book was a great read. Firstly because it was about THE Vivienne Westwood (one of the greatest fashion designers ever!) and that says a lot in itself. I love her designs, admittedly the less edgy ones. Nonetheless, she is an inspiration to so many people that when I got the opportunity to review this book, I jumped at it!

Westwood was born in 1941 and as such, she saw the war years. It was a tragic period but she survived and her optimism for life, shined through. In school, Westwood saw a classmate being bullied and while many just stood in the sidelines and watched, she stood up for him. For the reader, that is a very inspiring thing to read about – to stand up against injustice.

The book also talks about various other themes such as the importance of friendship and supporting one’s friends, while also, being independent and supporting oneself. This is a great necessity that we all need to understand and participate in today. Being able to stand on one’s feet is not some kindness we do to our parents, rather it is for our betterment only. In this case, being able to also know when it is time to move away from friends and family is important and I myself have gathered much strength from this – we all need to fly away from the nest sooner or later.

There is also a lot of importance give on self-acceptance, something that a majority of us today, sorely lack in. It is important too not let the naysayers get to us – as Westwood shows vibrantly throughout her life. It is of the utmost importance that we be or own persons and do what makes us happy and following our dreams, even if, at times, these dreams look far-fetched.

Moreover, we also see another important issue talked about in this book – that of environmental issue. Today, global warming and many other threats to the environment ae more common that perhaps the pins in Westwood’s pincushions.

I think that this book is surely a great gift for children – it has so many lessons to be learnt and most importantly, it is not done in a preachy manner at all. There are colourful illustrations that captured my attentions from the very beginning and I was totally invested in the book.

Verdict:

I absolutely loved the book and I think this is a great gift for all kids! I rate it a 4/5 stars.

About the author:

Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara, born in Barcelona, Spain, is a writer and creative director perhaps best known as the author of much of the Little People, Big Dreams series. Each book tells the childhood story of one of the world’s female icons in an entertaining, conversational way that works well for the youngest nonfiction readers, allowing them to identify with the characters in each story.

About the reviewer:

Nayanika Saikia, is one of the foremost book reviewers from the North-east and Assam, and is also an admin for the official India bookstagram page on Instagram. She publishes her own reviews and recommendations for poetry, fiction, non-fiction etc. on her bookstagram account @pretty_little_bibliophile which won the NorthEast Creator Awards 2018, as well as in daily newspapers, online magazines etc.  She can be contacted at nayanikasaikia98@gmail.com .