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Reign of Mist and War of Mist reviews!

Hey guys ! So if you remember, sometime back I reviewed Heart of Mist, book 1 of the Oremere Chronicles. I had rated that book 5/5 stars, with opes to pick up the sequels ASAP! And today, here are the reviews for book 2 and 3 of one of my favourite fantasy series of all time now!

Reign of Mist, 2018

Title: Reign of Mist

Author: Helen Scheuerer

Publisher: Talem Press

Genre: Fantasy, YA

Format: Kindle ebook

Language: English

No. of pages: 441

Synopsis:

The realm’s darkest secret is out.
The cruelty of the capital and the power-hungry King Arden have scattered Bleak and her companions across the continents.
On the run in a foreign land, Bleak finds herself tied to some unexpected strangers. When the answers she yearns for are finally within reach, she must face the hard truths of her past, and take her fate into her own hands before it’s too late.
Meanwhile, secrets and magic unravel as a dark power corrupts the realm. Bleak’s friends are forced to decide where their loyalties lie, and who, if anyone, they can trust.
But one thing is certain: war is coming, and they must all be ready when it does.
Intriguing and action-packed, Reign of Mist is the second instalment in Helen Scheuerer’s epic YA fantasy series, The Oremere Chronicles.

My review:

I received a digital copy of this via my participation in a blog tour organized by Shealea from ShutUpShealea . Thank you, Helen Scheuerer and Talem Press!

My love for this series seriously continues and it was proved by the fact that I finished book 2 in a day as well! Reign of Mist is the second instalment in the Oremere Chronicles and I picked up this book as soon as I had finished the first one – Heart of Mist. The mysteries continued to gnaw at me and the amazing world-building of the new setting was spellbinding.

We see themes of animal abuse, courage in the face of hardships (which is an admittedly a repeated theme throughout the series, I suppose), human fear, greed, torture etc. Sisterhood is another theme that runs throughout the novel and it is one I completely adored. This bond that is formed among many of the female characters in the novel was great to read and explore, as varying facets were revealed.

The truth about Dash’s heritage came as a shock. I had truly not expected it and was therefore hit by this barrelling force, right at the face. Swinton’s story is delved into in this novel and this aspect of his past really made me see him as a human and not just a killing machine of the king. His character has become so much more dynamic and I can only wait with baited breath as to what the author has got up her sleeves. Besides, his budding romance with Therese is beautiful and I hope to read more of it. On the other hand, we see some very twisted characters – Ines and Langdon, some sadistic ons, who relish hurting others. The plague can also be seen as another character in itself, which destroys so much more than it reveals the identity of the people.

Other characters such as Casimir and the Tailor of Heathton were well introduced and I hope to see more of their development in the next novel. I love the fun their banter provided. Casimir’s display of power was one that truly took my breath away and the writing felt real and exquisite. I felt as if I was truly in the room along with the characters.

Another thing that I love about this author’s writing was specially her ability to bring together various events whose significance had not been starkly clear earlier. For instance, when we realise it was Ethelda whom Bleak had met so long ago, it was a calming event – as if we are moving to a full circle. I also applaud the manner in which the author has been able to bring together and tie up all the loose ends to provide an explanation; it was really very welcome.

A lot of the portion in this book is about the preparation for war. Throughout the novel, we see the relationships form among all our different characters and I loved their interactions. I was so excited and anxious as everyone moved to Havenesse because their meet up was something that was completely unpredictable. And especially the long awaited meeting of the two sisters caused me quite an emotional upheaval.

Verdict:

My love for this series only seems to continue to grow. I rate this one a total 5/5 stars!

War of Mist, 2019

Title: War of Mist

Author: Helen Schuerer

Publisher: Talem Press

Genre: Fanatsy, YA

Format: Kindle ebook

Language: English

No. of pages: 500

Synopsis:

War is here.
Toxic mist drives all life to the brink of destruction and the conqueror queen, Ines, has her talons in the kings of the realm.
Bleak, having discovered her true heritage, must now scour the lands for the one thing that might save them all. 
But the search is a treacherous one – and it will push her to the very limits of endurance. 
Amidst secrets, lies and the intricacies of battle, Bleak and her companions learn just how far they’ll go for the ones they love. But will it be enough?
As deadly forces grapple for power across the continents, families, friends and allies unite to take one final stand.
Explosive revelations, heart-wrenching betrayals and breathtaking magic soar in the epic conclusion to Helen Scheuerer’s bestselling trilogy, The Oremere Chronicles.

My review:

I received a digital copy of this via my participation in a blog tour organized by Shealea from ShutUpShealea . Thank you, Helen Scheuerer and Talem Press!

War of Mist is the third and final installment in the Oremere Chronicles by Helen Scheuerer. I have loved and given 5 stars to the first book – Heart of Mist, as well as the second – Reign of Mist.

This book picks up from one month after Reign of Mist ends. The Prologue here itself gives us a glimpse into Ines. Her character is something very dynamic. And it is here that we are given such views of her past. As such, we see her varied personalities throughout the years and although it explains why she has become the way she is, it is never an excuse. However, it is also an unavoidable fact that trauma often shapes some of us into non desirable beings, I suppose. Ines is alluring, and that cannot be debated. Her power is like a flame that I as a reader, was utterly drawn towards.

A lot of the story in this book is told through somewhat of a treasure hunt, including Bleak, Ermias and Casimir as they put their wits together, face their monsters, share their fears and form better and deeper bonds for it. The revelation of Fi’s heritage was welcomed wholeheartedly by me. He deserves the world and I need to see more of him.

The everlasting war of morality – of good versus bad, is again portrayed here. Moreover, the theme of justice and duty is a continuing presence in this novel, as in the other ones, although nowhere has it been more pronounced. Someone rightly said that duty is the death of love. Every so often, we see the darkness take over Bleak. In my own interpretation, it is trauma and depression and I love how real it made these characters – having their own struggles. No one is perfect and yet they are all trying and not giving up. No truer words were said than when Henri had quietly claimed that life was not always black and white – so much of it is grey! No wonder we humans suffer so much and are confused at so many times!

One of the greatest character arcs in this novel is undoubtedly that of Swinton. I love him and his redemption was powerful to read about. We see him changing and growing throughout the series and in this last one, he is transformed into a wonderful man – flawed but real and accepting of these flaws, with the hope to become better. I also loved the final stand all the characters take together and the writing was great enough to give me goosebumps.

And oh my god! I did not see that coming with the ‘madwoman’!!! That was so very shocking.

PS. You just need to pick up this series!!!!!!!!!!!

With some shocking betrayals, War of Mist was a fast-paced final novel in a fantasy series that has made me a lifelong fan of the author. The suspense that the author flavours this book with, is perfect and the final result is an experience that will keep you reeling.

Verdict:

Needless to say, I loved this book too and just like the first two instalments in the Oremere Chronicles, I rate War of Mist 5/5 stars too!

The Kosher Delhi, by Ivan Wainewright, 2019

Title: The Kosher Delhi

Author: Ivan Wainewright

Publisher: RedDoor Publishing

Format: Kindle ebook

Language: English

No. of pages: 320

Synopsis:

Vik is a twenty year old English boy of Jewish/Indian mixed heritage. He wants to become a chef, but his experiences of racism in restaurant kitchens hold him back.

Until he meets Yvonne: Scottish activist, hedonist, who strives vehemently for social justice. She shows Vik what he has been missing in life.

Vik is increasingly exposed to further bigotry, and witnesses homophobia in his community, with more violent and fatal outcomes. And as Yvonne ventures into the music scene, their relationship becomes increasingly strained. When Vik reaches a point where he can’t ignore his issues any further, will he stand up for what he believes in?

Set in the early 1990s, the novel follows Vik and Yvonne on their journey from Leeds to London to New York. A contemporary novel with a lot of food, plenty of music and the zeitgeist of the era. The issues and themes will strike a chord with anyone who is concerned with inequality or struggled in their own relationship.

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.

As the book opens, we are introduced to Vikram Cohen, aka Vik, who is an aspiring chef, with Jewish-Indian roots and Yvonne, a Scottish woman and a very politically conscious activist. In the first few pages we see how a small argument becomes something bigger, culminating in a sort of accident which makes them run away to London.

Vik seems like a person who is not as ambitious as we perceive Yvonne to be, and there were a few times when I was thinking that Yvonne held all the reins in this relationship – and not in a good way either. At times, I found her to be very aggressive and impractical, but she is also very passionate and it is something that you cannot help but be drawn to. Vikram is thus a foil to her in this matter- he is calm to her inflammable anger. Vik’s character growth – his arc is very significant and human development has been shown in a very real way through his story.

Throughout the next chapters we see how their relationship grows – there are certainly various ups and downs but Yvonne is a good girlfriend, always sticking up for Vik. Just as Vikram, I too was very curious and intrigued by the repeated mentions of Kirstine and the song named ‘K’. The issue of racism is very evident in the book – Vikram is a person who is always suffering for it, and it is truly eye-opining to see how his indifference is wrong. I loved how Yvonne brings in the example of Nelson Mandela to explain the importance to standing up against the wrong. The other issues we come across are homophobia, sexism, chauvinism, love, hate as well as bigotry. The book has tried to show that human nature is truly dynamic and everyone thinks differently.

I loved the easy flow of the narration – the author has done a great job in this and I hope that others will enjoy the writing just as much as I did. The reader is bound to fall into this land and read the events as if they were really happening to them.

Verdict:

This was a really enjoyable read and I rate it 4/5 stars!

About the author:

Ivan Wainewright lives in Kent (England) with his partner, Sarah and their slightly neurotic rescue dog, Remi. Before moving to Kent, he lived in North London, Leeds and Singapore.

When not writing, he can be found watching (and occasionally) playing football, running, listening to music from Chumbawamba to Led Zeppelin, arguing over politics and trying to cook. He has been an independent IT consultant for many years, working solely with charities and not-for-profit organisations.

The Kosher Delhi is his first novel, and he is currently working on his second book. 

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 .

Heart of Mist, by Helen Scheuerer, 2017

Title: Heart of Mist

Author: Helen Scheuerer

Publisher: Talem Press

Genre: Fantasy, YA

Format: Kindle ebook

Language: English

No. of pages: 487

Synopsis:

In a realm where toxic mist sweeps the lands and magic is forbidden, all Bleak wants is a cure for her power.
Still grieving the death of her guardian and dangerously self-medicating with alcohol, Bleak is snatched from her home by the Commander of the King’s Army, and summoned to the capital.
But the king isn’t the only one interested in Bleak’s powers.
The leader of an infamous society of warriors, the Valia Kindred, lays claim to her as well, and Bleak finds herself in the middle of a much bigger battle than she anticipated.
Heart of Mist is the gripping first book in The Oremere Chronicles, a fantasy series of epic proportions.

My review:

I received a digital copy of this via my participation in a blog tour organized by Shealea from ShutUpShealea . Thank you, Helen Scheuerer and Talem Press!

Heart of Mist is the first book in the Oremere Chronicles and I was so glad I picked it up. I read it in less than 6 hours I think, spread over two days. As soon as you pick up this book, I assure you that you will not be able to stop. The book is very fast-paced and thus, it is of no wonder that you are pulled in.  

The author has also brought in various themes such as addiction, alcoholism, human nature (which is so unreliable sometimes), the issue of identity etc. Bringing in such aspects within the lives of the characters has made it very relatable for the readers. Mental health is also another theme that is explored here. Sahara is one such character who suffered a lot (from what I have inferred so far). In one way or another, many other characters have also faced such issues that have affected their mental health in one way or another. Trauma is one such factor that has ssailed Bleak – her past is something she tries to run away from, and yet, she cannot let go completely. Oppression – the dominance over a people (the Ashai in this case) is also shown in the book and this is always a sad instance no matter where we read about these instances. Segregation of the Valians – into the kindred and the rest is also portrayed.

The world building is amazing – we see a lot of the Valian life in this book and their world really gave me James Cameron’s Avatar vibes. I would love to see more of the rest of this world. And I am so very excited to read about Oremere.

Bleak as a person is very complex. I love how by the end of this book she is strong enough to resist her temptations and her addiction. Her character arc has been slow and consistent and I hope to see more of her growth throughout the series. Bren is so supportive – I love how he is always there for Bleak and when the time comes, she is willing to do everything possible to save him as well. I would love to see more of Bren throughout the rest. The friendship he shares with Bleak is amazing and their friendly banter, full of humour and wit, is fun to read. There are so many instances in the book when you laugh out loud, and so many times when you feel like crying. It is an emotional ride. And the fact that Bren is such an honourable man is also another plus point for him. Olena and Dash’s friendship is beautiful. At first I was wondering what importance these characters might have in the books and now – oh my god, you need to pick up this series as soon as possible! Henri is also going on her own journey and I look forward to see where she ends up. I would also love to know more about Swinton – his history. He is a very dynamic character – and I admit I still have mixed feelings about him. The multiple points of views used throughout were also great as they focused on various characters and gave us a glimpse into their minds.

Full of political intrigue, adventure, magic and some amazing friendships, Heart of Mist was a really great start to the trilogy. I finished the book today and I am going to pick up the sequel Reign of Mist tonight!

Verdict:

Absolutely loved this book. I rate Heart of Mist a full 5/5 stars and look forward to the sequel.

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 Dark Side of the Moon: vOLUME 2, by Shubham Arora, 2019

Title: The Dark Side of the Moon Vol.2

Author: Shubham Arora

Genre: Short-Story, Horror

Format: Ebook

Language: English

Synopsis:

The Dark Side Of The Moon is a collection of short stories that is dark, grim and flirts ambitiously with notions of the unexplained. 
Volume 2 marks the return of the series with another set of three thrilling, crisply narrated tales – 

DECEMBER

Cold. Rainy. Windy. A typical December night in Mussourie. The police receives a distress call. Typical for stormy nights, as they say. But this night will be different. This night will be longer. This night will remain unexplained.

THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON – THE STORY
Humans haven’t been on the moon since 1972. They have decided to return – though this time to the dark side of the moon, where no human has ever set foot before. What does the unknown hold?

SEVENTY METERS
The swift morning breeze soothes her hair. The tinkling wind-chimes call her to the window. She looks at him smiling in his sleep. She smiles too. But that’s been a rarity for them. 
Does love, like time, wither away as it’s consumed?

My review:

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

I have not been much of a horror fan but… Shubham Arora had me hooked with his first volume. And when he reached out to me for the second one, I was already jumping with joy. That is another story in itself so we’ll keep that aside for now.

In comparison to the first volume, I think the author’s writing has improved immensely. Most importantly, he knows how to deliver a punch at the end, just as succinctly.

In the first story, December, the writing is very atmospheric and is enough to give you the chills. When the story actually starts, and we venture into the mansion, I almost felt as if something is going to jump out of the shadows, at me. As a reader, I couldn’t help but feel as if I was a part of the story itself and the instances were happening to me too.

The stories have become creepier, with the eponymous The Dark Side of the Moon being the creepiest of them all. I loved how he has taken on this urban myth and given it his own twist. The idea itself, when you sit back and think about it – being stranded on a strange place (the dark side of the moon, for God’s sake!) The way this story is told – especially in day counts, is one that really makes you tensed up as if awaiting the climax, the twist you know is coming.

The last story is Seventy Meters, and from the name, I could guess what the ending would have been. Although the least favourite from all three, this was, a good story too, although I did not think it was scary. In a strange sort of way, it was actually sad.

Verdict:

It was an enjoyable read and I hope to read more of the author’s writing. 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 .

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 .

Mr. Eashwar’s Daughter , by Debeshi Gooptu, 2019

Title: Mr. Eashwar’s Daughter

Author: Debeshi Gooptu

Publisher: Juggernaut Books

Published on: May, 2019

Genre: Contemporary fiction/romance/classic retelling

Format: E-book

Language: English

No. of pages: 229

Recommended for: for fans of Jane Austen

Synopsis:

A modern retelling of Jane Austen’s classic novel, Persuasion. Eight years ago, family pride and an obstinate father had forced Anamika Eashwar to let go of the love of her life. Now he’s back again, a decorated captain of the Indian Navy. Will life offer her a second chance?

My review:                                 

I really enjoyed reading Mr. Eashwar’s Daughter. It is the perfect modern day Jane Austen retelling with a heroine who is just as dear and relatable. Often ignored and overlooked this is a love story spanning years and oh my god, I love it.

Being an Indian retelling, the element of the family is just as important. When it comes to Anamika’s character, I couldn’t help but feel that she is somewhat of a pushover. However, in regards to this protagonist, this is also a bildungsroman novel, where at the end, Anamika asserts her own self and her own identity and sheds all inhibitions, and also finds love in the process.

Verdict:

I rate this book a solid 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 Sleepless Beauty, by Rajesh Talwar

Title: The Sleepless Beauty

Author: Rajesh Talwar

Genre: Middle-grade

Format: Kindle

Language: English

Synopsis:

In a small kingdom somewhere in the Himalayas, the beautiful young Princess Ramya cannot sleep. It all started soon after her mother, the queen, passed away, when the princess was only twelve. Her father, the king, tries everything to make his little princess sleep, but nothing works. The princess develops such an inability to sleep that she becomes known in her kingdom and far beyond as the Sleepless Beauty.
The king wishes Princess Ramya to marry and take over the reins of government, but the princess is determined not to marry till such time as her sleep is restored. Eventually, the king announces a competition whereby whichever prince succeeds in getting Princess Ramya to sleep will win her hand. Meanwhile deadly foes of the kingdom wait and watch in the wings, planning to launch a surprise attack. This exciting, romantic tale, with comic interludes, will appeal to readers of all ages.

My review:

I got the book as a part of the review program in Outset. (https://rakhijayashankar.blogspot.in) Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

The Sleepless Beauty is quite a unique approach at a fairytale. The name itself is very interesting and when you delve into the read, you find that it is a cool mixture of the magical fairytale along with a serious modern day health issue that so many of us face. I think that it is this scenario which is so unlike any other that I wanted to read the book myself.

Understanding oneself is a theme that is seen here and again, this is something we all can perhaps relate to. Sometimes we are so confused with what we like, what we are, what we want that it gets us very confused at times but it is willpower and determination that makes us go on and on.

Ramya is a character I loved very much; she is relatable and I am sure you all will find a bit of yourselves in her. Her problem and how she deals with it, is the crux of the story and apart from the serious relatable themes and motifs, there were some hilarious scenes too. the princes are really funny and their attempts and tips to help Ramya are just as funny. Raja Bhoja is a great dad too and I loved their relationship with each other.

The fact that this fairytale is set in an Indian setting is a plus point. The writing style is good and understandable and you can surely gift this book to any kids you may know. The language is simple and fluidic and it’s a pleasure to read. The story captures you attention from the beginning until the very end and I was hooked. However, the book can do with a little bit of editing.

Verdict:

 I think it was a pretty interesting read. I rate it 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 .

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 .

The Stillwater Girls , by Minka Kent, 2019

Title: The Stillwater Girls

Author: Minka Kent

Publisher: Thomas and Mercer

Genre: General Fiction (adult), Mystery and Thriller

Format: E-arc

Language: English

Synopsis:

Two sisters raised in fear are about to find out why in a chilling novel of psychological suspense from the author of The Thinnest Air.

Ignorant of civilization and cautioned against its evils, nineteen-year-old Wren and her two sisters, Sage and Evie, were raised in off-the-grid isolation in a primitive cabin in upstate New York. When the youngest grows gravely ill, their mother leaves with the child to get help from a nearby town. And they never return.

As months pass, hope vanishes. Supplies are low. Livestock are dying. A brutal winter is bearing down. Then comes the stranger. He claims to be looking for the girls’ mother, and he’s not leaving without them.

To escape, Wren and her sister must break the rule they’ve grown up with: never go beyond the forest.

Past the thicket of dread, they come upon a house on the other side of the pines. This is where Wren and Sage must confront something more chilling than the unknowable. They’ll discover what’s been hidden from them, what they’re running from, and the secrets that have left them in the dark their entire lives.

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 went into this book really intrigued – the synopsis was enough to arouse my curiosity and the narrative gripping enough to keep me hooked in until the very end. The whole trope of the unreliable protagonist is an interesting one and I personally love it. After reading books like The Woman in the Window, Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train etc.,  I was looking for more such domestic thrillers and this book’s synopsis promised to deliver.

The plot was well stitched together. At one point, I thought I knew how it was going to end, but boy, was I wrong! The entire narrative had a jigsaw like feel and in the beginning I had no idea how the author would possibly intertwine the two storylines into one. The themes were universal and as such, I believe that many readers will b able to  relate to them; some are relationships, dealing with authoritarian figures, infidelity, keeping secrets, identity crisis etc. Of course, there are my interpretations.  

The character of Nicolette also underwent growth – she is absolutely different at the end, from the way she was at the beginning of the book. The anagnorisis in relation to her character is enormous and lends the narrative great depth and feeling. Brant is also an interesting character and although not the protagonist himself, his role is just as important.

Wren and Sag also undergo growth and this is very important as we see them dealing with various issues that most teenagers may perhaps relate to, (I am talking about the happenings towards the end; needless to say, I wish no one has to go through what they did).

The writing style is flawless – it flows and gives a very lucid effect to the narrative. Apart from the twist and the jaw-dropping end, the characters too were amazing and had such great depth!

Verdict:

I absolutely enjoyed the book and I hope to read something similar from the author soon! I really enjoyed the 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 .

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 .

What did Tashi Do? by Anangsha Alammyan, 2019

Title: What did Tashi Do?

Author: Anangsha Alammyan

Genre: Contemporary/Cybercrime thriller

Format: Ebook (pdf)

No. of pages: 123

Synopsis:

A beautiful woman. An anonymous stranger. A spine-chilling nightmare that blurs the thin line between online bullying and a full-blown real-life ordeal. 
Tashi Chotten is a woman from Arunachal Pradesh working and living a normal life in New Delhi. Her world turns upside down one night when she receives an anonymous email with a picture attached. Curious, she clicks on it to find that the photograph is her own – a semi-naked one she had clicked almost four years back when she was in a relationship with Akash. 
Tashi’s breath catches in her throat: how could this be possible? How could an image of four years ago come back to haunt her now? Was Akash doing this to take revenge on her for dumping him? But why would he wait so long if revenge was his intention? She had so many questions she needed the answers to, but first of all, Tashi had the anonymous sender’s strange request to oblige: should she fight back or should she give him what he was demanding? 
In a fast-paced, mind-numbing tale of misplaced trust and poor data security, blackmail and friendship, lust and a love that had gone cold years back, will Tashi be able to regain control over her life and win the fight against the man who seems to be one step ahead of her, no matter which direction she chooses to go? 


My review:

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

What did Tashi Do? Is truly a suspenseful and thrilling ride. I enjoyed the book very much.

The book is a very fast paced read, so much so, that once you pick up this book you wont be able to stop until you are done with the story entirely. It is also a short read and can be finished.

The writng style of the author is very captivating. Once you start reading it, you cannot help but be drawn in. The diction is liquid-y and colloquial and thus makes it an easy read for all readers as well.

The book is also centered on one of the most troubling issues we face today – cyber bullying. The book is also multi-dimensional because we see it dealing with various others, and just as important issues, like depression, mental health, anxiety etc.

I quite liked the character arc of Tashi and think that the author has made the character arc significant. The growth of her person is significant throughout and is very inspiring for the reader to rad about. It gives great hope to see that the young generation of today is so conscious of this issues and I hope it will influence the other readers just as much.

I think the book does well in making the reader conscious of issues like cybercrime bullying because it is such a relevant issue today – so many of us have dealt with stalkers but thank god, I personally never have been bullied or stalked to such an extent.

Verdict:

I enjoyed this book very much and I rate it 4.5 stars.

About the author:

A two-time Quora Top Writer and top writer in fiction on Medium, Anangsha specializes in poetry and short fiction. Her compositions have won several national and international awards. Her poetry debut “Stolen Reflections” ended up as an Amazon bestseller within four days of its release and is still going strong on the Amazon Bestsellers list. 
Her second book is a suspense thriller. “What did Tashi Do?” is the story of a girl from the North Eastern part of India living in New Delhi, who gets ensnared in an all-pervading web of anonymous cyber harassment.
Anangsha is currently working on her third book – an anthology of microfiction spanning various genres. She is also working on her first full-length novel – a piece of historical fiction set in the war-torn India of the 1600s.
Apart from her writing career, Anangsha holds a masters degree in civil engineering. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. part-time from IIT Guwahati while working as an Assistant Professor at NIT Silchar. She hopes to write her own fantasy fiction series some day. 

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 .

We Are the Gardeners, by Joanna Gaines, 2019

Title: We Are the Gardeners

Author: Joanna Gaines

Illustrated by: Julianna Swaney

Publisher: Thomas Nelson, registered trademark of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc.

Publishing Date: 26th of March, 2019

Genre: Children’s nonfiction, Home and Gardening

Format: Ebook

Language: English

Synopsis:

In We Are the Gardeners, Joanna and the kids chronicle the adventures of starting their own family garden. From their failed endeavors, obstacles to overcome (bunnies that eat everything!), and all the knowledge they’ve gained along the way, the Gaines family shares how they learned to grow a happy, successful garden. As it turns out, trying something new isn’t always easy, but the hardest work often yields the greatest reward. There are always new lessons to be learned in the garden!

You and your children can learn all about the Gaines family’s story of becoming gardeners in Joanna’s first children’s book—starting with the first little fern Chip bought for Jo. Over the years, the family’s love for gardening blossomed into what is now a beautiful, bustling garden.

Julianna Swaney’s illustrations bring the Gaines family garden to life with colorful, whimsical watercolors and invite you to enjoy the beauty of a thriving garden.

My review:

We Are the Gardeners was a quite short but interesting read. I think it will prove to be a really powerful and influential read for children. We often say that a child’s mind is like a blank space and so it is easy to influence them. This book, with its wonderful illustrations, is the perfect gift for the little eons in your life.

One of the most important things that it focuses upon is the necessity of hard work and perseverance and how significant they are – we need to inculcate them if we ever wish to do something successful. The author also insists on the necessity of going on and not giving up – “Every failure or setback teaches us something”.

It shows the beauty in simple and menial tasks and that will surely teach the reader to understand and enjoy the smaller joys of life – even the simplest things can offer one something. The childhood innocence in the kids is really very nice to read about – they have hope, something so many of us adults have left behind; these kids are taught not to give up – and I think that is the best advice a growing kid can ever get.

The book also focuses on the importance of knowing when enough is enough – on contentment, and respecting the limits. Reading as a whole is also portrayed and thus, the fact that one can learn so many things from doing so. Another most obvious and just as important motifs seen in this book is the presence of familial bonds and the importance of family – after all, the family is the first support system we get.

“Just because you can’t see the good things with your eyes doesn’t mean they’re not there!” This is an important line from the book and says multitudes in just a few words. It encourages the reader to look for the silver lining. With simple language, this is the perfect book to read for a quick yet meaning experience.

Verdict:

I really enjoyed this book very much and I rate it a 4/5 stars! It releases on 26th of March, 2019 and a must grab for all the tiny tots in your lives!

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 .

Fireside Chat with a Grammar Nazi Serial Killer, by Ryan Suvaal, 2019

Title: Fireside Chat with a Grammar Nazi Serial Killer

Author: Ryan Suvaal

Publisher: Self-published

Genre: Thriller/Psychological/novella

Format: E-Book

Language: English

No. of pages: 23

Recommended for: All psychological thriller buffs can go for this short novella.

Synopsis:

Seventeen gruesome killings across the United States, within a span of six months and there is one clear connection among victims. They were all writers. 
While media is decorating the murders with sensationalist stories, and law enforcement is playing catch-up, the homicidal maniac remains elusive and secretive. 
Things get very interesting, when one day she decides to appear on an internet talk show for an honest fireside chat. 

My review:

For such a short psychological thriller, this book was surely a page-turner. Despite its short length it is amazingly fantastic.

The idea that the author has taken up, is in itself very intriguing – for a person to turn a killer because of reading book which lacks the proper grammar! This idea itself of a ‘Grammar Nazi’ being a serial killer is enough to make you take a second look at the book.

What is also great is that this book seems like an aftermath of the killings, when the killer reveals what she does and why she does it. In this way, she too reveals information of the host of the show – which mind you, no one has been able to do so. In one way you cannot help but admire the acumen of this infamous lady killer. She is precise and definitely knows what she is doing – she knows her abilities and uses them to the full of her capability. The author has really carved out a character who seems very real – almost ass if she is one among us. The book reads smoothly as well. It genuinely feels like you’re listening to this show and not merely reading this in a book.


The pacing was kept on-point and the author has done a great job with this seemingly short read. The research shows through. The subtle imagery was also on point! With an amazing surprise at the end, this book comes like a punch, one that you can completely read through easily, under an hour. And a shout out to the author for the blatant message – readers absolutely do not enjoy reading books which have a ton of grammatical errors!

Verdict:

I really enjoyed reading this book and I rate it a 4/5 stars. Definitely recommend it to all crime buffs!

About the author:

Ryan Suvaal is passionate about writing page-turner psychological thrillers. His favorite hangout is a coffee shop where he guzzles in tonnes of caffeine and weaves characters pumped up with deadly intentions and worlds full of thrill, suspense, and gore.
“Fireside Chat with a Grammar Nazi Serial Killer” is one of the first in a series of Psychological thrillers which he has penned down during past few months, which will now be sequentially released on Amazon.

“A deep-rooted question always keeps broiling inside of me. This question is whether I am writing the story or the story is forcing me to write it? Am I the actor and story is the art, or story is the actor and I am the medium?”

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 .

Vitamin G: Gratitude, Prashant Jain, 2018

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Title: Vitamin G: Gratitude
Author: Prashant Jain
Publisher: BSC Publishers and Distributors
Format: EBook
Language: English
Pages: 199
 
Synopsis:
Do you feel taken for Granted by your loved ones?
Is there too much complaining in your workplace?
Do you wish there was less Entitlement and Envy in the world?
Then “Vitamin G: Gratitude for a Magical Life ‘ is the Answer!
You will shift to practicing authentic gratitude in a world of transactional thanking with this book.
Through stories, humour, exercises, wordplay, reflections and 42 quick practices (that you can do in less than 5 minutes a day) makes Magic happen in all aspects of your life like relationships, health, happiness, work, business, money.
Embracing Gratitude and Grateful Living through this book will help you develop resilience to face life’s major challenges and adversities, rewire your brain towards optimism, and heal through emotional and physical wellbeing, as well as unleash inner and outer abundance.
Through almost a decade of life experimentation, latest scientific proven research, ancient wisdom and practical daily common sense, the techniques in this book will help you connect to Gratitude and grateful living at the core of your being through the 6A framework.
In “Vitamin G: Gratitude”, Prashant Jain – Entrepreneur & Gratitude Coach, brings together incidents from his life with a narrative, making the case for the miraculous power of gratitude to bring joy, increase life satisfaction and maximize the quality of life.
This book draws insights from Prashant’s own inspiring story of being a millionaire at 24 to facing adversities and depression besides two suicide attempts, to resurrecting and creating a magical life of fulfillment through the transformational power of Grateful Living.
Author Profile:
Prashant Jain went from selling his company for a million USD to Softbank and JP Morgan when 25, to witnessing the tumble of the stock market crash, the dotcom bust and the 9/11 aftermath to being clinically diagnosed as depressed and attempting suicide twice facing adversity and challenges in health, relationships and finances. Today he is back to running successful companies with turnover in millions, physical, emotional, mental wellbeing and a fulfilled Joyful Life
This book is a part of the #MissionBillionThanks that the author took up in Sep 2016 to magnify the gratefulness on our planet. Prashant Jain is a Dagsi Scholar from Wright State University, USA with a Master’s in Computer Science. He is a Serial Entrepreneur who has started and successfully run multiple businesses over the last two decades, foraying from e-commerce and technology, to gifting Solutions and Wellness.
Prashant’s interests span Behavioural psychology, teaching, spirituality, micro blogging, photography and travelling. Author website : www.prashantjain.in
 
My review:
As a person who loves to read self-help books, Vitamin G came as a welcome surprise, one that turned out to be my new favourite in the self-help genre. However, classifying Vitamin G as a mere self-help book would be an injustice to the book. It was inspiring and entertaining even. At so many instances, it was a helpful guide as well. Today, people are becoming more and more conscious of leading a holistic lifestyle. And thus, practicing gratitude is something that is done by so many people. And just as well. Having done it myself, I am a staunch advocate for it. And if you ever want to start on this path, which you definitely should, I think this book would be a great help. If you do not have time to maintain a gratitude journal, please do make so, and use it along with this wonderful book.
The anecdotes provided were also helpful as it made the whole narrative very relatable and thus easy for the reader to follow. The practice sheets were also a good addition- they will truly help the individual reader. I took some time to read this book myself- as I wanted the best experience for myself too. And after I finally finished it, I had such praises for it that my mother also intends to read it after she finishes her current read. If you have a teenager in your life, I think this book would be a good gift; I personally know that it would have helped me in my teenage rebellious phase.
The book is divided into 6 parts with 7 chapters for each and that made a total of 42 practices. All of these are based on gratitude and the practice sheets after each were truly a great addition, like I have already mentioned. These exercises are simple and easy and perhaps doing one each morning or two each every day, will really help. The concepts of minimalism and poverty as well as habit stacking were also surprising but very unique concepts. I loved them.
 
Recommendations:
This book was a really short and inspiring book. I LOVED IT! Rating it a 4/5 stars!

ABC Calling, Vineeth Menon, 2017

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Publishers: self
Genre: Romantic Thriller
Synopsis:
Meghana, who is about to leave to the US for pursuing her Masters.
Adithya, an Assistant Manager at Syndicate Bank.
August 15, 2015: India celebrating her 69th Birthday.
Set in the ‘state with many worlds’, ABC Calling is a tale enveloped with love of two persons from different pages of life.
Disclaimer: I was offered a copy of the book by the author in return for an honest review.
My review:
The whole plotline of the novel was truly well- planned out especially when one takes into consideration the cliff-hanger one is left with, in the end. It sings out for a sequel as it has a lot of loopholes, which I feel are entirely left loose by the author intentionally- the ending asks for it. the whole suspense aspect is a joyride and it spices up the story in the parts where it drags a bit. The narration is very engaging and keeps the reader hooked.
Meghana, and Shivani are amazing characters and the author has put in a lot in their acute realistic portrayal. They portray the real women of today with their perspectives on life, their views, and emotions as well as their sensitiveness and empathy. Nebessa is a mystery altogether. Adithya is also another such round and intricate character. The humour element brought in by the author through these characters are also great.
However, there can be quite a bit of proofreading and editing to be done on this book. The punctuation and the errors at some points leave a bad aftertaste. The dialogues can also be improved.
Verdict:
I rate this a 3/5 stars.

Scattered Constellations, Ankita Singh, 2018

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Publishers: Amazon
Genre: Poetry
Synopsis:
Words tumble out, with no pause;
From the pen, my anelace,
That I hold so graciously,
(In awe of its majesty, its power)
In my hand.
They form thoughts, hopes and musings;
Reflect my soul, my entire being,
And spread across the page,
Like scattered constellations
Across the sky.
(Scattered Constellations is a collection of 50 Free Verse YA Poems.)

My review:
Scattered Constellations was a great read firstly. It is a poetry book following the common free verse pattern nowadays. Ankita Singh has done a good job with this book.
Scattered Constellations contains poetry on a vast number of themes such as love- romantic, familial as well as platonic; friendship, family, appearances in terms of racial distinctions etc. I found them really eye opening.
The book was also very finely edited and proofread, as I hardly noticed any errors. The whole format was pretty nice in the ARC but I am eager to see how the actual paperback turns out. I think that this book makes a good gift- the poems are bound to touch every other reader.
My personal favourites in this collection are quite a few, some of which are Tell Me, Taboo, Our Kinda Love, Colour, It Wasn’t Just Sadness, Sisters, Trophy Girl etc. I enjoyed the book and it took me less than a day as I read and stopped to think, and then resumed, again and again.
Verdict:
I rate it a 4/5 stars as I wait for the paperback to come out.

The Nirvana Threads, Rachel Tremblay, 2018

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The Nirvana Threads, Rachel Tremblay’s latest book, is a modern day interpretation of 90s magical punk and spiritual romance, a combination which I have never come across before. Sometime back, I reviewed the first chapter of the book, and I remember being very pleased and eager to read more. And so, when this book was released on the 1st of June, the author was kind enough to send me one too! Another disclaimer: although I was given this book by the author, my thoughts are entirely from a personal viewpoint and have in no way, been influenced.
One thing I would like to point out is that there is a lot of parallelism between the stream of consciousness method applied by Virginia Woolf and the similarities in our protagonist Carlie’s journey. Having said that, I propound that there has been no plagiarizing if you’re thinking in that line; I had meant the method itself.
We have our young protagonist, Carlie, a young woman living in the 90s, whose life changes after a life-altering accident. In the review I wrote for the first chapter, I was very much impressed with the way the author has beautifully portrayed the hollowness in the independence that people strive for. Carlie is a person facing a harsh reality- she does not really have any friends, and her parents are just people who gave her birth. They are just ‘family’ without the emotional connotations that otherwise come to mind when one talks of their families. It’s her husband who is her only ‘home’ in the world; someone others have not approved of, but in her defence- “She loved the fiery spark in his eyes, his sense of humour, and their common love for music. And his smile. His smile that showed his good heart. That was reason enough for her.”
The accident in itself is a great loss for her and almost a foreshadowing of the great change that is to come, as we see in the blurb! There is mention of a brother who lifts up her gloomy mood while she is recuperating in the hospital and I cannot help but be eager to know more.
It is June 1994, when “she climbed aboard the spaceship, as she kept calling it, and flew high above and away from Johnny’s game-board piece, wondering if his warm soul was enjoying a similar view.” Yes, that’s how the author had ended the first chapter and it had left me restless.
The journey in one sense is a journey of growth for Carlie- she’s broken and she heals with the help of her “Nirvana Threads” like she fondly calls them. She learns about acceptance and the meaning of selflessness and love, and it was a spiritual journey for me too. The book in its essence is a spiritual journey of a young woman, as she fights after a heart-wrenching loss and her subsequent healing. I myself was very moved with the story and I think that most will be too. I am a spiritual person as well, and that’s why I suppose I could connect with it the way I did. Having said that, I also feel that this book is a miss-or-hit because I feel that while many will love this, there will be a select few who won’t, and that would just mean that some people won’t be able to connect with it.
The plot was very well woven- I especially loved the intense episodes Carlie had- the author has described them beautifully and I was almost in tears during them. The characters were well planned out- I loved Damien! Leo, Hazel, Lucas were also very well planned out. I think that the author has done a great job in exploring the different facets of human life and jotting them down so well on paper. I personally would have loved a sequel to this- I would love to know more about Carlie’s story. The characters were magnificent and tangible and real for me, even though I truly felt that it was more of a plot-driven story.
I rate this a 5/5 stars and wish the author a hearty congratulations for this amazing, touching and beautiful book!

Take by heart forever, by Arpit Agarwal, 2018

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Blurb:
“Meet Siddhartha, a good lawyer but a bad human.
Meet Rahul, a good human but a bad doctor.
And meet Shuchi, a good human, and an exceptionally well doctor.
Shuchi tries to make a good human out of Siddhartha and a good doctor out of Rahul, but a bomb blast transforms their lives.
Read this revolutionary tale to know how Siddhartha will get a unique PIL passed in the courtroom and Rahul will perform a life-changing surgery, to save the girl they love.”
In the plot, there is a great mixture among the different aspects of thrill, romance, friendship etc. The love triangle like I have said before, is engaging. The story at the end becomes almost tragic and while completely captivating. At its heart, I feel that this book is a romance, with a distinct impression of it being an epistolary novel as well.
The characters were very well built. In Siddharth, we see a ruthless winning machine- a lawyer who intends to win his cases by hook or by crook, most often the ones which are not perhaps on the legal side. It is only towards the end that we understand his childhood as a factor that drove this need for such power and hunger. He perhaps never knew that there was something apart from winning as well- until he met the heroine of our story. On the other hand, Rahul is a carefree young fellow who returns from the USA after getting his medical dree and joins the hospital where our heroine works, back home in India. Shuchi, the heroine in question, is portrayed as a dynamic force throughout the story- whose actions and views greatly determine how the story goes indirectly, as she greatly affects directly, the ways of the people around her, specifically Siddharth and Rahul. We see the classic trope of the love triangle in this novel and I cannot say that I didn’t like it.
The problems however that I had with the story are firstly the cover; I do not think it portrayed the idea well. Other than that, I truly believe that the editing was rushed through, so much so that I was frustrated and skipped over a few bits. I would really suggest the author to use a beta-reader and then a subsequent editing process after that so as to attain a refined nature about his future works. I also feel that the dialogues should have a bit more a editing done to them, other than that the overall dialogue aspect can be worked on. Keeping in mind all of these, I rate it a 4/5 stars.