Tag Archives: bestseller

An American Marriage, by Tayari Jones, 2019

Title: An American Marriage

Author: Tayari Jones

Publisher: OneWorld Publications

Genre: General Fiction

Format: Paperback

Synopsis:

Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. In this deft exploration of love, loyalty, race, justice, and both Black masculinity and Black womanhood in 21st century America, Jones achieves that most-illusive of all literary goals: the Great American Novel.
Named an Oprah’s Book Club Selection. 

Won the 2019 Women’s Prize for Fiction.

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.

This book left me speechless. I am honestly shook after reading it. An American Marriage is riveting in its honest tone, the tangibility and the rawness was grating on my soul. It was sad, or rather, bittersweet, in a way that reality often is.

The author has made it a story which can be the story of someone we might know – Jones has a magical quality to her writing. The issue of race is an important one here – the one that makes fate take the turn it does. Celestial and Roy are husband and wife until he is wrongfully accused of a crime he did not commit, and sentenced to twelve years. It is at once, the most horrifying thing that can happen to a couple, one that either breaks them or only makes them stronger. These two individuals are bound together by their deep sense of love and yet, separated by the twisted hand fate had dealt.

Societal and familial expectations are often ones that can push a person to be better, or they can become unwelcome burdens on a person’s shoulders. Celestial is a person who has to deal with a lot of pressure – her life is not easy, and neither is Roy’s. As a reader, I could not help but be overwhelmed by the difficult choices these two had to made to just make it day by day.

Stories also play a key role here – many of them reveal details that define the characters and their beings. Often told through letters and flashbacks, An American Marriage was an astounding book, one that I shall be keeping close to my heart always. And thus, it is no surprise that my mother has also decided to pick up this book soon.  

Verdict:

This was devastating and yet utterly moving story, that touched my heart and shook me to the core. 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 .

Dark Tales, by Shirley Jackson

Title: Dark Tales

Author: Shirley Jackson

Publisher: Penguin Classics, a part of Penguin Random House

Genre: Horror 

Format: Paperback

Language: English

No. of pages: 195

Recommended for: All ages

Synopsis:

Step into the unsettling world of Shirley Jackson this autumn with a collection of her finest, darkest short stories, revealing the queen of American gothic at her mesmerising best.

There’s something nasty in suburbia. In these deliciously dark tales, the daily commute turns into a nightmarish game of hide and seek, the loving wife hides homicidal thoughts and the concerned citizen might just be an infamous serial killer. In the haunting world of Shirley Jackson, nothing is as it seems and nowhere is safe, from the city streets to the country manor, and from the small-town apartment to the dark, dark woods…

Includes the following stories: ‘The Possibility of Evil’; ‘Louisa, Please Come Home’; ‘Paranoia’; ‘The Honeymoon of Mrs Smith’; ‘The Story We Used to Tell’; ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice’; ‘Jack the Ripper’; ‘The Beautiful Stranger’; ‘All She Said Was Yes’; ‘What a Thought’; ‘The Bus’; ‘Family Treasures’; ‘A Visit’; ‘The Good Wife’; ‘The Man in the Woods’; ‘Home’; ‘The Summer People’.

My review:

Never having read Shirley Jackson’s works before, I was pleasantly surprised to go through this collection. Dark Tales is an anthology of short stories – full of elements of horror, and the supernatural, or darkness.

I also read this book as a part of the #readyoshelf reading challenge hosted by my dear friend Gayatri (@per_fictionist).

Having experienced this myself, I would really recommend that new readers of this genres may start with this one. This is a collection of short stories and as such, quite easy to read and short as well, so that new readers may not feel any commitment issues. What is creepy is that these events may happen to just about anyone and that fact itself is enough to give one goosebumps.

I truly enjoyed all of these stories; however, the ones that stuck were – ‘Louisa, Please Come Home’; ‘All She Said Was Yes’; ‘A Visit’; ‘The Man in the Woods’; ‘Home’; and ‘The Summer People’.

I could say that I am definitely a fan of her writing and hope to pick up ‘We have always lived in the Castle’ and ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ soon.

Verdict:

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

About the author:

Shirley Jackson was an influential American author. A popular writer in her time, her work has received increasing attention from literary critics in recent years. She has influenced such writers as Stephen King, Nigel Kneale, and Richard Matheson.

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 Knife Slipped, by Erle Stanley Gardner, 2016

Title: The Knife Slipped

Author: Erle Stanley Gardner

Publisher: Titan Books

Genre: Crime Mystery

Format: Paperback

Language: English

No. of pages: 240

Recommended for: YA and above

Synopsis:

THE LOST DETECTIVE NOVEL
BY THE CREATOR OF PERRY MASON!

At the time of his death, Erle Stanley Gardner was the best-selling American author of the 20th century, and world famous as the creator of crusading attorney Perry Mason. Gardner also created the hardboiled detective team of Cool and Lam, stars of 29 novels published between 1939 and 1970—and one that’s never been published until now.

Lost for more than 75 years, THE KNIFE SLIPPED was meant to be the second book in the series but got shelved when Gardner’s publisher objected to (among other things) Bertha Cool’s tendency to “talk tough, swear, smoke cigarettes, and try to gyp people.” But this tale of adultery and corruption, of double-crosses and triple identities —however shocking for 1939—shines today as a glorious present from the past, a return to the heyday of private eyes and shady dames, of powerful criminals, crooked cops, blazing dialogue, and delicious plot twists.

Donald Lam has never been cooler—not even when played by Frank Sinatra on the U.S. Steel Hour of Mystery in 1946. Bertha Cool has never been tougher. And Erle Stanley Gardner has never been better.

First publication ever!
Erle Stanley Gardner is one of the most popular American authors of all time, with over 100 million books sold
Brand new cover painting by Robert McGinnis of modern-day pin-up icon Dita von Teese
Brand new afterword by former Ellery Queen editor Russell Atwood about Gardner, Cool & Lam, and THE KNIFE SLIPPED.

My review:

“I like loose clothes, loose company, and loose talk, and to hell with people who don’t,” declares Cool.

Being the long-lost second book in the Donald Lam-Bertha Cool series, The Knife Slipped by Erle Stanley Gardner was much anticipated.

The fact that it was long lost was simply because the editor of Gardner refused it, because he considered this book too tawdry with its radical approach to adultery, sex and crime. So today, when this is totally not what we consider as “tawdry” it was interesting to read this book in present day context.

Gardner is known for chucking his works if they were rejected by the editor and instead writing entirely new works – including the twenty-nine books of this series itself. The character of Bertha Cool is really interesting. She is a no-nonsense penny pinching person who is really unscrupulous in reaching her goals. Donald Lam when placed against her, is totally a contrasting character in both size and character! Here again, we see the particular trait of Bertha Cool as she tries to wheedle out as much money as she can from the customer and is not repentant about it either. Nonetheless, these two characters, I found, were really progressive for their time.

In this book, the story opens with a new client coming in – and the story basically goes as – the woman suspected her husband was keeping a mistress and the woman is with her mother. They want the husband to be investigated and that is how we start on this journey. The infamous Bertha Cool remarks here that it is very normal for husbands to cheat on their wives, and moreover, her own experiences with it, which is perhaps another something that the late 30s/early 40s could not have dealt with.

The crime aspect of the book was interesting, however, it was not what I expected. The murder, corruption, fights etc., were also intriguing to read about. Overall, it was an enjoyable read.

Verdict:

It was a very interesting read for sure. I rate it a 3.5/5 star.

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 .

If Characters from Winter Dream Were Candle Scents (Guest post!)

To say that I love candles is slightly an understatement. I love candles. Even more so – Christmas candles. So much so, I know to avoid the stores around this time of year, because I’ll want to buy them all!
Around the holiday time, many of my favorite scents and flavors become popular. Peppermint, Mocha, Cinnamon, Sugar Cookie – and more. Just the thought of reading a good book in front of a warm fire, while the air is filled with a smooth, rich “Christmas-y” scent – made me wonder if my characters from  Winter Dream were candle scents – what would they be?
And how fun of a post it would be to share with you! Now as you read “Winter Dream,” perhaps you’ll be able to choose your own favorite candle scent, and enjoy some quality “you-time” that you deserve!
 
Clara – Home for the Holidays. Cinnamon and clove, mixed with earthy cedarwood and balsam. This IS my favorite candle, of all time. I burned this scent MANY of times as I wrote “WinterDream.” When I think about the main character of this book, it feels only fitting to give her this candle.
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The Nutcracker: Balsam Forest. The wonderfully clean, wintry fresh scent of a breeze blowing through a thick stand of pines. As a Nutcracker – made of wood – would smell; he would have the scent of a wonderfully, magical forest – fit for a Snow Prince.
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Uncle Drosselmeyer: Magical Frosted Forest. An enchanted place where icy breezes playfully dance through tall, snow-coated pines. Uncle Drosselmeyer is a magical being in the story of “The Nutcracker,” and “WinterDream.” It feels only right to place him with a “magical” candle – but still stays close to the wonders of Christmas and snow. Drosselmeyer plays a key role in the mystery of the WinterDream land – and Clara and the Nutcracker’s story. I’m sure this candle would delight anyone (just as I hope the story does too!)
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Mother Ginger: Frost Gingerbread. Gingerbread freshly frosted—a holiday delight that fills any room with welcome and warmth. It would only be fitting for Mother Ginger to be represented as a warm and welcoming scent – and one that consists of ginger. She’s sure to make anyone feel at home in her inn, just as this scent should too!
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Lady Irina: Icy Blue Spruce: A fresh breath of winter forest—juniper berries, blue spruce, spearmint leaves. Lady Irina is the daughter of the Lord and Lady of Sugarland Forest – so it felt only right to give her too – a candle that had something to do with forests. But in her case, something darker – blue.
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Marzipan: Sugar Frost Christmas. Fresh-baked and topped with creamy vanilla frosting—a delicious holiday treat. I thought this was perfect for Marzipan – who is named after a delightful dessert! She, as a character is sweet and wonderfully kind to Clara upon her arrival to the WinterDream palace.
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And those are my choices for candle scents that I’d associate with my characters in “WinterDream”! Be sure to check out “WinterDream” on November 27th as it waltzes onto bookshelves near you – and of course, stop by Yankee Candle (and/or) check out local candle makers for amazingly wonderful Christmas scents as the holiday season gets underway!
 
(Guest post by the author of Blinding Night, Allerleirauh, Between the Sea and Stars, etc., Chantal Gadoury, on occasion of the upcoming release of her latest book Winter Dream)
Amazon Best Selling Author, Chantal Gadoury, is a 2011 graduate from Susquehanna University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing. Since graduation, she has published “The Songs in Our Hearts” and “The Songs We Remember,” with 48Fourteen Publishing, and “Allerleirauh,” “Between the Sea and Stars,” and “Blinding Night” with Parliament House Press. Chantal first started writing stories at the age of seven and continues with that love of writing today. Writing novels for Chantal has become a life-long dream come true! When she’s not writing, she enjoys painting, drinking lots of DD Iced Coffee, and watching Disney classics. Chantal lives in Muncy, Pennsylvania with her Mom, Sister and furry-’brother’ Taran.
Chantal Gadoury Author
Here’s the synopsis for Winter Dream!
This Christmas Eve… no creature was stirring…
Except, maybe, a mouse.
At long last, can true love break the Nutcracker’s curse?
For Clara Stahlbaum, this Christmas means the end of her youth. A daughter of the aristocracy, Clara is expected to give up her dreams of adventures and the extraordinary for more normal days as the wife of a cruel Viscount.
But when magical Uncle Drosselmeyer returns with his wondrous, dancing contraptions, and one…special gift for Clara, she is beckoned to the land of Winter Dream, where she is thrust into the greatest adventure of her wildest dreams. But will she be able to break the Nutcracker’s curse?
Uncle Drosselmeyer’s apprentice, Anton, is handsome as he is mysterious. But what is it about him Clara finds so alluring?
Winter Dream is a phenomenal retelling of The Nutcracker from the eyes of Clara Stahlbaum with all the magic of the Holiday season. If you loved S. Jae-Jones’ Wintersong, you’ll fall in love with this stunning tale of love, war, redemption, and Christmas magic.
Book Teaser Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMRGyNtnhZI
 
You can reach her at:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/CGadouryAuthor
Blog: http://www.chantalgadoury.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chantalgadouryfans
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8059023.Chantal_Gadoury
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/chantalgadouryauthor/
Amazon Author Central: http://www.amazon.com/Chantal-Gadoury/e/B00MTLD0P0/
Parliament House Press: http://www.parliamenthousepress.com/
Parliament House Press Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theparliamenthouse
 

Cold Truth, Nikhil Pradhan, 2018

Title: Cold Truth

Author: Nikhil Pradhan

Publisher: Harper Black

Format: Paperback

Language: English

Pages: 201

Synopsis:

A missing girl. A curious journalist. A terrifying conspiracy.

When 10-year-old Sakshi goes missing from East Delhi, almost no one, including the police seems too concerned. Not until a journalist begins to ask questions. Soon, what started as an innocuous investigation into corruption and systemic apathy begins to reek of a larger and terrifying conspiracy, as chilling secrets and long-dead skeletons tumble out.

Pieced together like a case-file, using police reports, interviews, leaked emails and WhatsApp conversations, COLD TRUTH takes you from the by-lanes of Delhi and the communist bunkers of Russia to the frozen grounds of Antarctica, following a trail that will leave you questioning what is real and what isn’t.

My review:

Cold Truth was the first of its kind for me. A modern epistolary novel, it provides the reader with suspense and drama, completely taking the Indian thriller genre by storm. HarperCollins have most probably published a very unique form of writing, more so in the Indian subcontinent.

As I skimmed through the pages when I first got the book out of its packaging, I registered the excellent method of taking the plot forward through email threads, Intel repots, WhatsApp messages etc. But once I started reading it, I fell more and more in love with this way of writing. It keeps the chapters short and makes the reader feel that he is making a lot of progress. I personally read it during a very bad reading phase, and happy to admit now, that this book has successfully been able to drive me out of it.

However, it is not a simple thriller novel. The narrative is fast-paced as we rush from Delhi to Russia to Antarctica. Encompassing the elements of governmental corruption, conspiracies, scientific experimentation, the deep web, the author has to be applauded for the immense research and drafting that probably went on behind this debut novel. It is bound to make the reader ponder about how many such things we do not know about the governments’ going-ons. It was intriguing and kept me at it until I finished it, ever since I first picked it up.

The synopsis really draws you in and as a person who loves to read mystery, Cold Truth came as an unexpected but a definitely very welcome experience. Needless to say, the plot was amazing. The writing style was also very innovative and compelling as well- the use of the epistolary is this manner added a lot of authenticity and this believability to the story. When one actually realizes that Cold Truth is in fact a debut novel, it is truly mind-blowing.

Recommendations:

This was a book that I will definitely not be forgetting any time soon. Fans of the Illuminae series will really love this standalone novel. It is also a great help to deal with those mean reading slumps. I rate this a 5/5 stars and hope that it really finds its way to many more people.

Seductive Affair, Rishabh Puri, 2018

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Publishers: Srishti Publishers and Distributors
Genre: Romance
Synopsis:
Prisha Khatri is a regular college graduate, focused on her career, desperate to finally move out of her parents’ house… and freshly dumped by her successful fiancé. When she lands a job at a prestigious media house, she’s glad to have something to take her mind off her heartbreak.
What she doesn’t expect is to be landed on a business trip with a famously fiery reporter Rajesh Lagheri. He’s travelling to a business conference for a story, and doesn’t seem impressed by her involvement. But as soon as they’re out of the office, things change, and it becomes clear that there is more to Rajesh’s trip than meets the eye.
As Prisha is drawn into the story he’s trying to hide from their editor, their hunt for the story grows more intense, and she finds herself growing closer to Rajesh. As their chemistry threatens to overwhelm them and Prisha is pulled deeper into the Seductive Affair, she must decide what matters most to her – matters of the head, or of the heart.
My review:
Seductive Affairs was the second book I read in August and I have not been disappointed. Now there have been many negative reviews regarding this one, but I would like to point out that although it wasn’t a serious read, Seductive Affairs was a perfect romance book. I love the fact that it was kept short without any parts that dragged unnecessarily, and a very Mills and Boon-esque vibe.
The plot was pretty simple and the way the author went about it was great too. I found the pacing well-proportioned and subsequently, the flow of the whole story was very pleasant. It is to be noted however that Seductive Affair is quite literally a light read- a mindless one. It’s very easy-peasy and hardly evokes any strong emotions in the reader. This is the type of book that would do well as s slump-reliever.
The characters were also very well made; I found Prisha a true woman of the world- she’s not willing to be suppressed in the face of an ultimatum to either choose the guy or her dream. I found her to be an independent and amazing girl- worth being an idol. Rajesh was also worth admiring- his drive and determination show that hard work with passion truly leads you to the past of success. The cover was also very alluring and I do believe that it portrayed something very much related to the title of the book. The synopsis shown was also very good!
Verdict:
I rate this book 3/5 stars. It was a truly fun read.

The Woman in the Window, A. J. Finn, 2018

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Publishers: HarperCollins Publishers
Synopsis:
What did she see?
It’s been ten long months since Anna Fox last left her home. Ten months during which she has haunted the rooms of her old New York house like a ghost, lost in her memories, too terrified to step outside.
Anna’s lifeline to the real world is her window, where she sits day after day, watching her neighbours. When the Russells move in, Anna is instantly drawn to them. A picture-perfect family of three, they are an echo of the life that was once hers.
But one evening, a frenzied scream rips across the silence and Anna witnesses something no one was supposed to see. Now she must do everything she can to uncover the truth about what really happened. But even if she does, will anyone believe her? And can she even trust herself?
My review:
The protagonist is almost like an anti-heroine and that’s the one thing that really attracted me- the unreliable narrator aspect is one trope that is very often used in case of women in psychological thrillers. In this novel too, I really like it. Moreover, the fact that she being a psychologist is undergoing a psychological problem herself is quite poignant- though she has been trained to help such children, she is unable to help herself. The agoraphobia theme is also something new that I have come across and in this way definitely learnt something new. Anna Fox is a really likeable character despite her many flaws. She is so realistic and relatable that you just cannot help but almost reach out to her as she despairs her situation and the believability that people have when it comes to her authenticity.
The other characters too I feel were well developed, though none as well as Anna, obviously. The whole story took quite an unexplainable turn in the end as anyone can expect in a novel as such, and yet this twist is completely twisted and not something that one could have even imagined. It’s wilder than wild horses running in your dreams.
The whole book, though seeming quite long, was actually very easy to cover- probably because of the short chapters. The reader is kept reeling as the shocks come, one after the another. However, I have to admit that I found the beginning very slow and I hardly ever favour slow-paced books. I had put down the book I admit, but somehow decided to take it up again because of the fact that I hate to DNF it.
This psychological thriller was really an interesting one for me. Having read The Girl on the Train as well as Gone Girl, I loved this opportunity to be able to read another such exciting and fun read.
Verdict:
This was a 4 star read for me undoubtedly. The one star I do not give- it’s only because of the unsatisfactory and slow paced beginning.