BOOK REVIEW : The Help

Author: Kathryn Stockett
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository .
Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: February 10th 2009.


synopsis

Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step.

Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody’s business, but she can’t mind her tongue, so she’s lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.

Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.

In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women, mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends, view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don’t.


review

I was watching Last Week Tonight with John Oliver the other day. It was on the subject of climbing Mount Everest. A major point of the discussion was how without the Sherpa – who have little choice but to risk their lives to earn their livelihood – it would be impossible for any climber to achieve this feat.

There was a clip included of a TV presenter who asks a Sherpa whether he thinks it’s wrong what they have to go through for the sake of the climbers. After a moment’s pause, the Sherpa humbly begins to say that they consider the climbers their family during expeditions. Before he can end his answer though, the presenter hugs him as if he got the answer he wanted.

So when at the beginning of The Help, Aibileen is asked by Miss Skeeter, her employer’s friend, whether she wishes things or rather the status quo could change, that clip of the Sherpa and the presenter came to my mind. Skeeter’s intentions are good when asking the question, as probably were that of the presenter’s. But the question sounds so laughably ignorant and naive when seen from the other’s point of view, you can’t help but shake your head.

The Other. Us and them. I learned about these terms and conditioned mentality while studying anthropology in college. We all have this sense of ethnocentrism – how we feel we are the better ones. What I loved most about The Help is how this conditioning is clearly present in both the parties. Even the black characters have a sense of moral superiority over their white employers. For the women working as the help, their white employers are the other. For the white community, the former are the other.

Another admirable aspect of the writing was that not for one moment you feel there is a white savior component, even though it is about a white woman interviewing and writing about the black women working as help. But it’s not the former doing the saving. No, it is about the black women doing their own saving. It is about all these people uniting to serve their own purposes.

There is no glorification here. It does not glorify the black women serving as the help. They are humans just like us. They make mistakes and bad choices too. The employers are not vilified either. They are humans too. And that is what makes this story stand out.

Going into this book, I was afraid of it being too preachy or perhaps boring. But instead, it was engaging to the point that I was glued to the pages and completed it without taking a break. The story and the main characters spoke to me and made me root for them.

I am sure I have not said anything that has not already been said about the book. I’ll just end it by saying that books like this are makes reading worth it at the end of the day.


ratings

★★★★

WEBTOON REVIEW : CHEESE IN THE TRAP

Author: Sun Kki
Links
: LINE (You can read the webtoon here) |  Goodreads
Publisher: Naver
Genre: Young Adult; Contemporary; Romance; Webtoon; Manhwa; Graphic Novel;


synopsis

 


Having returned to college after a year long break, Hong Sul, a hard-working over-achiever, inadvertently got on the wrong side of a suspiciously perfect senior named Yoo Jung.

From then on her life took a turn for the worse and Sul was almost certain it was all Yoo Jung’s doing.

So why is he suddenly acting so friendly a year later?

 


review

So I’m on a reading spree of Webtoons and Mangas these days. So, for those who don’t know – Webtoons are digital graphic novels/comics in Korea. Sort of like Mangas (Japanese graphic novels/comics) and Manhwas (Korean graphic novels/comics), except you read it online. Interestingly, for reasons beyond my grasp, the volumes are called seasons and chapters are episodes. The webtoon has a total of 4 seasons, and 301 episodes.

A little backstory at first. Cheese in the Trap is perhaps the most popular webtoon till now. So popular in fact that it has both a movie and a drama adaptation. But none of them are as good as the webtoon. The drama aired back when the webtoon had not been completed, and although it had a promising start, it went haywire at the end. (The ending was so horrible that the  backlash was also of massive proportions. I watched the drama and the backlash was truly justified.)

Story

Junior year starts off on a weird note for Seol. A department senior she is wary of is suddenly being very friendly and wants to hang out with her. Jung Yoo is the popular senior that everyone wants to be close with. He’s handsome, rich and polite. A model student, he also happens to be the top of the department, and consequently the original contender for a scholarship that ultimately Seol got. He’s the one person girls want and guys want to be. He’s also extremely generous, always being the one paying for drinks and dinners.

But Seol has seen a side of him unlike anybody else. We see through flashbacks, their first meeting which got them off on a wrong foot, the eventual mishaps that keep happening to Seol. From stalkers to sabotage by jealous classmates, nothing went smooth for Seol in her sophomore year, so much so that she wanted to take a gap-year. While Seol has no evidence that Jung was behind it, her instincts tell her that it was him. Are her instincts right or is it just paranoia?

Narration

The narration of the story does wonders in making it even more compelling. Initially, we only see Seol’s point of view. The juxtaposition of the present timeline and her past is very fascinating. At first, we only see things from her perspective. It’s also interesting because we see Jung being the good Samaritan to Seol in the present time, but then we see his cold side in the past. We are left as confused as Seol. But then we see the same flashbacks from the perspective of other characters and the narrative totally changes. It’s even more fascinating in the later stages of the story when we slowly start to see things from Jung’s eyes.

Characters

The characters are the USP of the story. I have never read such complex, layered set of characters together. Characters that start off as minor or insignificant later turn out to become pivotal to the story. And there are many of them. A number of characters from Jung and Seol’s department play major parts.

The main characters are Seol, Jung and Inho. Make no mistake, this is no love triangle. Inho and his sister Inha are two orphans who were taken in by Jung’s father when they were young. Although, they were friends, somethings happened to sour them. Now, Inho and Jung can’t bear each other’s presence. And Inha has become a gold-digger of sorts, leeching off others.


Inho starts getting close to Seol after he returns to the city and sees her closeness with Jung. He’s childish, short-tempered and impulsive. But he has a good heart. His friendship with Seol was one of my favorite things to read. He has his demons, a broken that put a stop to his hopes of being a pianist. But he’s loyal to fault and protective of Seol.

Seol is an interesting protagonist. When we start off, she’s quiet, reticent and unassertive. She easily lets others walk over her. She also has been neglected by her parents in favor of a younger brother. She is smart, determined, observant and hard-working. But as the story progresses, we see her become assertive and and feisty if not a little manipulative thanks to Jung’s influence.

Jung is the most complex character I’ve ever read. He’s a mystery for 90% of the story. One moment, he makes you go ‘Aww’, and the next moment he creeps you out. You will love him but also be wary of him. I thought for a long time that he might be a sociopath. But as the story progressed, it became even more difficult to catalogue him into a box.

 


The characters that I genuinely adored are Bora and Eun Taek, who are the besties of Seol. They are better friends to her than she is to them. The best part about this webtoon is that the characters are all people we see around us. Even Inha who gives an initial impression of being a manipulative gold digger, has layers and layers of complexity. The depth in the delineation of all the characters – major and minor – makes it one of the best work of fiction I’ve read.

 

Setting

Although the story is set on Korea, it’s as relatable as it can get. Anyone who’s gone to college will be able to connect with the characters and the scenarios. Be it the group assignments, the part-time jobs, the competition or the obnoxious senior who always leeches off others’ hard work or the nerd who feels bitter and unappreciated. We’ve all seen it. While Seol gets a little too much of her end of the short stick, it never for a moment feels over the top.

Romance


The evolution of Jung and Seol’s relationship starts from an uncomfortable friendship, to awkward dating phase to a slower and deeper understanding of each other. I won’t deny that there were some instances that I felt that there were toxic elements in their relationship. But those were sort of addressed.  And I liked that while their relationship is a major storyline, it is not always at the forefront. It always comes down to the growth of Seol, Jung, Inho and all the other characters. I also like that there was no tangible love triangle, even though there were shipping wars.

A special mention for Eun Taek and Bora, who have the most adorable romance!

Art

Art is an important component of any graphic fiction. The art is beautiful here too. While it can be a little cartoonist with the expressions at first, but it gets better as the webtoon progresses. The maturity of the characters is visible through the art too as much as the story. I also like how each character has its own features. I’ve read mangas where most characters are drawn with same features, just different hairstyles. But every character has their own unique style. And I appreciated that.

Ending

There are so many arcs in the story which make you want to pull your hair in frustration. But they always culminate on a satisfying note. The ending of the whole story was also very satisfying. Almost every character gets a satisfying resolution.

Hello! Still with me?

I won’t be surprised if you skimmed through my review. It’s LONG, I know. But we’re talking about a 300-episode long webtoon here! All I can say is whoever starts it will have a hard time leaving it incomplete. It’s addictive as hell. Strongly recommended.


ratings

★★

BOOK REVIEW : WILD AT HEART

Author: K. A. Tucker
Links
: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository .
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: Contemporary; Women’s fiction; Chick Lit: Romance
Release Date: January 1st 2020.


synopsis

Wild at Heart (Wild, #2)From the internationally best-selling author of The Simple Wild comes the continuation of a woman’s journey to Alaska and a life she never imagined for herself.

Calla Fletcher returns to Toronto a different person, struggling to find direction and still very much in love with the rugged bush pilot she left behind. When Jonah arrives on her doorstep with a proposition she can’t dismiss, she takes the leap and rushes back to Alaska to begin their exciting future together.

But Calla soon learns that even the best intentions can lead to broken promises, and that compromise comes with a hefty price—a log cabin in interior rural Alaska that feels as isolating as the western tundra.

With Jonah gone more than he’s home, one neighbor who insists on transforming her into a true Alaskan, and another who seems more likely to shoot her than come to her aid, Calla grapples with forging her own path. In a world with roaming wildlife that has her constantly watching over her shoulder and harsh conditions that stretch far beyond the cold, dark, winter months, just stepping outside her front door can be daunting.

This is not the future Calla had in mind, leaving her to fear that perhaps she is doomed to follow in her mother’s fleeing footsteps after all.


review

The only problem I had with The Simple Wild was its ending and a lack of closure. So imagine my delight when I found out about a sequel. I literally whooped! Okay? In fact, I was so pleased that I forgot to be worried about it potentially disappointing me. It was only after having finished the book did I realize that I had not even thought of a hugely favorite book being ruined by a crappy sequel. And that realization made me laugh!

Because, the final verdict?

Dun. Dun. Dun…

I LOVED IT!

I think I might have loved it even more than The Simple Wild! Just how great is that? I’m just so happy that my whole journey in regards to this book – from finding out about it, to getting it on my hands to reading it at one go – has been pleasant and oh so satisfying!

If you haven’t read The Simple Wild, it will be hard for you to follow this book, though. It is the continuation of Calla’s journey. To sum it up, She is a city girl who visited her ailing father in Alaska where she rediscovers herself and finds love. This book is about her life after she decides to move with Jonah to Alaska.

Here are the highlights of what I enjoyed about the book –

The story was simple and heartening

It’s not a very plot-heavy book. The story is simple. Calla has decided to follow her heart and move to the small remote town of Anchorage in Alaska with Jonah. This book follows her journey, her relationship with Jonah and how she finds her place in this small town. It’s a poignant story.

Jonah and Calla’s relationship is the BEST

These two are couple goals. Their relationship isn’t perfect. And that’s what made it such a perfect read. The conflicts they go through are very real and relatable – whether to buy or rent a house; readiness on marriage and children; how much to spend or save; what pets to have; what flying gigs to take. Jonah and Calla are as opposite as night and day. He’s laid-back, gruff, direct and a spendthrift. She’s high-maintenance, posh, reticent and has an expensive taste. They call each other Yeti and Barbie. And these differences makes it even more enjoyable because these two always try to find a middle ground.

Odds are stacked against them. Calla has her mother’s legacy working against her. They are both starting over in a new town with no safety nets. But these two are completely committed to their relationship. Both of them make sacrifices and compromises to make it work. It made for a compelling story. I absolutely adore both of them. From the way he teases her to the way they both do things to make each other happy. Everything about them is just perfect!

The author nails the setting

The world building yet again was perfectly done by the author. She does well to set up the remoteness and isolating nature of the Alaskan town. When Calla is unnerved by the strange feelings of being watched, I felt it too. I was just so sucked in by this world! I felt like a part of it.

The secondary characters were just as engaging

The secondary characters added to the strength of the plot. All of them had their own minor arcs. There is this sub-plot of Roy, a loner who is a pain for the neighborhood.  The way he goes from just an irritating neighbor to some sort of father figure for Calla was beautiful to see. Then there’s Muriel, a bossy and imposing neighbor who Calla finds intimidating at first but soon warms up to. Agnes and Mabel, who are like Jonah’s adoptive family, make an appearance too.

No unnecessary angst

I’d been dreading unnecessary angst or separation for Jonah and Calla. And while they do have fights and arguments, none of them feel unnecessary. There are two events which do provide ample tension. But I liked that the author does not stretch them needlessly.

….

My only qualm with The Simple Wild was that we did not get a satisfying closure on Calla and Jonah. Wild at Heart gives us that. And even then I was left wanting more of them! I want a Jonah for myself. Pretty please!


ratings

★★★★★

BOOK REVIEW : IF I NEVER MET YOU

Author: Mhairi McFarlane
Links
: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository .
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Contemporary; Romance; Women’s fiction/
Release Date: January 1st 2020.

synopsis


When her partner of over a decade suddenly ends things, Laurie is left reeling—not only because they work at the same law firm and she has to see him every day. Her once perfect life is in shambles and the thought of dating again in the age of Tinder is nothing short of horrifying. When news of her ex’s pregnant girlfriend hits the office grapevine, taking the humiliation lying down is not an option. Then a chance encounter in a broken-down elevator with the office playboy opens up a new possibility.

Jamie Carter doesn’t believe in love, but he needs a respectable, steady girlfriend to impress their bosses. Laurie wants a hot new man to give the rumor mill something else to talk about. It’s the perfect proposition: a fauxmance played out on social media, with strategically staged photographs and a specific end date in mind. With the plan hatched, Laurie and Jamie begin to flaunt their new couple status, to the astonishment—and jealousy—of their friends and colleagues. But there’s a fine line between pretending to be in love and actually falling for your charming, handsome fake boyfriend..


review.

Brace yourselves, people. I’ll be pinging this book every chance I get from here on. This book was everything it could be. Bear with me while I try to articulate my incoherent feelings of adoration for this book into words. Let me try that by listing down some of the things I loved about the book :


The best and most realistic portrayal of a breakup I’ve read
The protagonist is blindsided at the very beginning when her boyfriend of 18 years breaks up with her. We see Laurie go through all the feelings – disbelief, shock, denial, betrayal, anger, sadness and acceptance. I felt like I was going through the stages with her. I also wanted him to want her back when she did. And when she realized that he’s no longer important, I was right there with her too. That more than anything else is telling of the conviction in the writing.


The heroine and her satisfying journey
This book is above all about Laurie and her journey. And how beautifully is it written! Laurie is incredibly likeable. She’s also smart, self-aware and outspoken. The only flaw she has? She doesn’t know her own charm. You’d think her journey would be difficult. But more than anything, it was satisfying and believable. To see her evolution and development was perhaps the most satisfying reading experience for me so far in this year.

The best execution of a fake-relationship trope
This is the best fake-relationship romance I’ve read in a long time if not ever. Every little encounter that leads the couple to having a fake relationship is as organic as it gets. Not for a moment did I find the reasoning illogical as is usual with me. And that is because, the characters themselves debate all these things. The heroine is very self-aware of why she’s doing this. She also has her best friend cautioning her about the repercussions. There are no loopholes here. This is very smart writing, I must say.


The conversations
The conversations in this book are just so hard hitting and relevant! Every conversation is meaningful and engaging. It often happens while reading romances that I lose focus when reading casual conversations between the main couple. But when Jamie and Laurie talk, they talk about their views about relationships, work and even ethnicity. Every conversation they have helps unearth their inner layers and forge a very believable connection between the two. And the conversations between Laurie and Emily about women and relationships are oh so relatable! Actually, majority of the conversations in this book are meaningful and satisfying to read about!


The friendships
There are three friendships in this book that I absolutely loved. The friendship between the main couple Laurie and Jamie, and their individual friendships with their best friend. Laurie and Jamie are each others champions in more than one occasion. But Laurie’s friendship with Emily, was just on another level. They are friendship goals. And while we see very little of Hattie, her friendship with Jamie is equally special too.

The Hero who’s respectful, earnest, funny and honest
Jamie Carter is a conventional playboy at a glance. Laure initially is very judgemental about him, thanks to workplace gossip, until the fated day they get stuck on an elevator. That’s when she and we realize how unconventional he is. He calls himself a communist in relationships. He has an unbeatable logic when it comes to his views on monogamy. But then at the end, he’s also smart enough to realize his own ignorance.

To add to it all, Jamie is respectful of Laurie unlike the other men in her life. He has an earnestness which shines in many an instances, for example, there is a part where he is talking to Laurie about the correct terminology about her mixed race won me over at an early stage. He’s also hilarious!

The themes of feminism and gender politics in workplace
The themes of feminism are prevalent throughout the book. Despite being one of the best lawyers in the firm, Laurie also deals with gender politics multiple times in the male-dominated profession of law.

This book made me think
It’s a rarity when romances make you think. I knew I’d like this book, but just as a run-of-the-mill romances. But it made me think of so many things – relationships, power play in relationships, love, gender roles, gender politics, feminism and what not.

If I haven’t already made it clear already, I love this book. The synopsis does little justice to this gem of a book. It’s just a very satisfying read.


ratings

★★★★★

 

BOOK REVIEW : NINTH HOUSE (ALEX STERN #1)

Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?

Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive.


review

So, 5 days before the year ends is when I read my best book of 2019. In a day. A part of me wishes that this was a standalone because I’m almost afraid of my own expectations from the sequel. They are just too damn high!

The story is centered around Alex Stern. She can see ghosts, except they’re referred to as greys here. She has had a tough life because of this superpower until she gets a free scholarship to Yale whose secret societies need power like hers.

The writing was marvelous and the plot incredible. No sentence was wasted. Every other line seemed to hold some important detail. The dialogue was witty and sharp. Even details that felt minor at first proved to be consequential. You just don’t know when the next line will strike you like a thunder. I’ll be honest, the first 40 or so pages were not easy for me to ingest because we are thrown right smack at the middle of this unusual universe. But once I was past that, there was no going back for me. There were more than a few scenes that gave me literal goosebumps. Two scenes in particular – both flashbacks – made me choke up in emotions. It says a lot about the book that the visuals are still haunting me.

And the characters? What can I say about them? Leigh deserves an award for the character of Alex. There just aren’t words for how much I have come to love her. When she says she’s been through hell, she means it. Darlington was the perfect contrast to Alex’s character. He’s all about morals and ethics. I wanted to see more of him, though. A lot more of him. I loved his equation with Alex. In fact, I loved Alex’s equation with all the characters. But special mention to the shy Dawles and Alex’s roommates Lauren and Mercy who I thought would be insignificant, but weren’t. These are all strong female characters even in their vulnerabilities.

While a part of me can’t believe I waited this long to read the book, another part of me wishes I’d read it a lot later. Because June 2020 couldn’t come any faster!

P.s. Fair warning. Triggers include – Sexual assault, drug abuse, addiction, gore, drowning, PTSD, overdose, self-harm, forced consumption of human waste.


ratings

★★★★★

 

BOOK REVIEW : EYES OF SILVER, EYES OF GOLD

Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold is a story of family conflicts set in Colorado in 1885. Anne Wells has embarrassed her rigidly proper family since she was a child with occasional but grievous lapses from ladylike behavior. They blame those lapses for the disgraceful fact that she is a spinster at 28. Cord Bennett, the son of his father’s second marriage to a Cheyenne woman, is more than an embarrassment to his well-to-do family of ranchers and lawyers – they are ashamed and afraid of their black sheep. When Anne and Cord are found alone together, her father’s fury leads to violence. Cord’s family is more than willing to believe that the fault is his. Can Anne and Cord use the freedom of being condemned for sins they didn’t commit to make a life together? Or will their disapproving, interfering families tear them apart?


review

My love for historical romance + My love for Ellen O’Connell’s previous book Dancing on Coals + My love for “forced/arranged marriage” trope = My love for Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold.

This was one of the most satisfying reads for me this year. My heart is actually full.

I’ve rarely ever read a “Arranged/Forced marriage” trope done so beautifully and organically. There was a perfect balance between action and romance that did enough to make it to the top of my favorite reads of the year.

28 year old Anne has run from her parents to escape a forced marriage to a man twice her age. In the night of storm, she seeks refuge in a barn only to wake up to find out the owner staring at her. It’s Cord, a man considered almost a pariah by her town, for his half-Indian blood and infamous temper. But Anne isn’t scared of him. Before she can convince him to help her escape the town, her father along with a mob finds her in what they believe is an compromising situation. They leave after beating them up until Cord is half-dead and Anne bleeding, with the local priest forcibly marrying them off.

After Anne nurses Cord back to health, they decide to make their sham of a marriage real. Nobody is happy. Anne’s father and the people in the mob thought Cord would be dead and Anne would go crawling back to her father. The townspeople including Cord’s own family are led to easily believe that Cord forced himself on her. Cord himself doesn’t believe that this marriage will last and is mentally prepared for Anne to leave him for a king she deserves. But Anne finds herself happy being a wife of Cord, and tending to his household and barn. 

Anne and Cord’s relationship progress was organic and delightful to read about. Anne is probably the first woman who doesn’t fear him, and he’s the first person who respects her. The way they slowly grow to understand, support and stand up for each other was delightful. We’re talking about a relationship that progresses from an expressionless Cord reminding Anne that she’ll probably leave him soon, to teasing her about having enough money to escape to Paris without him. I loved every step of it. My heart melted right with Anne’s when Cord calls her Annie for the first time.

Anne’s my favorite kind of heroine with the perfect blend of warmth and strength. Even when the mob is forcing her to repeat wedding vows in distress, she omits ‘to disobey’. From her fear of spiders, to her belief that horses can be cured of any aliment with oodles of sugar and sweet-talking, I found everything about her endearing.

But my heart bled a little more for Cord. This is a man who’s resigned to his own family’s mistrust of him, because of his Indian blood. Who can blame him for thinking Anne to be too good for him? He is a kind and gentle soul, with a brittle exterior. I loved every moment of his layers being peeled off.

Cord’s brothers love him. But some past events have forced them to believe the worst of him. Cord is the child of a second marriage of his white father to an Indian marriage. After his parents’ death, his elder half-brothers raised him as their own. But they could never understand his plight, being white themselves. I was so annoyed by Ephraim and Frank’s mistrust of his brother at first. But I also respected how they never lost a chance to let Anne know that she could always come to them if she wanted to escape what they felt was a marriage of abuse. Eventually, my annoyance turned into amusement over their refusal to see Cord’s love for Anne.

I also love how the author can so masterfully paint a perfect portrait of the racial prejudice that people of Indian blood had to face, that even the thought of having a child with Indian blood is unacceptable.

You know how much I loved this novel by the length of my review. I would wax poetry about this heartwarming romance if I could!


ratings★★★★★

BOOK REVIEW : MAKE ME BAD

As Clifton Cove’s resident “king”, he thinks he’s entitled to anyone and anything.

The trouble is, I’ve spent my whole life following the rules and playing it safe. I know what it feels like to be the good girl. I’m the police chief’s daughter and a librarian—for adorable children, no less. My wardrobe consists of colorful sundresses and baggy jeans. I might as well have a Post-it stuck to my forehead that reads: Yup, she’s a virgin.

An all-nighter with a fictional hunk is about as exciting as my life gets, until one day, fate decides to take pity on me and shove me straight into the path of Mr. Off-Limits himself.

Oof.

Just as I suspected, every inch of him promises to be my demise. Up close, he’s tall, menacing, dangerously handsome—the type of man who’s never spent a single moment worrying about the opinions of others. A well-behaved girl would do as she’s told and avoid him at all costs, but I’m overdue for a little rebellion.
No more Friday nights sprawled out on the couch in my comfiest pajamas. No more wishing I had the courage to misbehave.
Everyone thinks Ben is going to ruin me.
They think he’ll chew me up and spit me out.

Well, Ben…go ahead.
Tempt me. Taunt me.
Make me bad.


My favorite kind of romance – slow burn! And burn it did.

Ben and Madison were just too cute. Their growing friendship, flirting, banter, and just that overall chemistry they had going was simply irresistible. I adored Madison. She is my favorite kind of sweet, bubbly, down-to-earth heroine. And Ben was my favorite kind of ‘not-so-nice-guy’. Get my not-so-subtle-reference? You won’t if you aren’t a R.S. Grey fan like me!

I loved the forbidden aspect to Ben and Madison’s romance, with them coming from two different corners of the town, with her father and brother bearing disdain towards anything to do with Ben and his riches. But what I loved the most was the slow and simmering chemistry and tension between the two. The jealousy, the ache, the playing with fire – it was exactly everything I want in my romance reads!

This book might not have been perfect, but it was perfect for my taste. Five fluttering stars from me!


★★★★★


 

ARC REVIEW : WHAT THE WIND KNOWS

In an unforgettable love story, a woman’s impossible journey through the ages could change everything…

Anne Gallagher grew up enchanted by her grandfather’s stories of Ireland. Heartbroken at his death, she travels to his childhood home to spread his ashes. There, overcome with memories of the man she adored and consumed by a history she never knew, she is pulled into another time.

The Ireland of 1921, teetering on the edge of war, is a dangerous place in which to awaken. But there Anne finds herself, hurt, disoriented, and under the care of Dr. Thomas Smith, guardian to a young boy who is oddly familiar. Mistaken for the boy’s long-missing mother, Anne adopts her identity, convinced the woman’s disappearance is connected to her own.

As tensions rise, Thomas joins the struggle for Ireland’s independence and Anne is drawn into the conflict beside him. Caught between history and her heart, she must decide whether she’s willing to let go of the life she knew for a love she never thought she’d find. But in the end, is the choice actually hers to make?


I am a massive fan of Amy Harmon. She has yet to write a book that I haven’t adored. So you can imagine my excitement at getting the ARC for her newest book!

The author writes a very beautiful note at the end citing her own journey to Ireland, the homeland of her great-grandfather, to discover her heritage. It was amazing to find out about all the little details from her life that she added to her book. That note added to the poignancy of the story.

After Anne’s best friend in the world, the man who alone raised her, her grandfather Eoin dies, she travels to his hometown in Ireland to fulfill his last wish of spreading his ashes in the lake he grew up around. A renowned author, Anne has only ever heard and read stories about Ireland from Eoin but never allowed to visit the place until now. Something out of a fairytale happens to her in Eoin’s hometown. She finds herself in the Ireland of 1921. A spitting image of Eoin’s mother also called Anne, a six year old Eoin thinks he got his mother back who everyone thought had perished with his father back during the revolution. Eoin lives with his grandmother under the care of his father’s best friend Doctor Thomas Smith now. Thomas Smith and everyone else are mystified at her supposed reappearance and Anne is caught between a rock and a hard place.

Suddenly all the cryptic words of her grandfather makes sense. Did he know this would happen? Did he always know that Anne would go back in time to be with him again? Should Anne tell Thomas the truth? Will anyone believe her? How can she go back? Does she want to go back leaving behind the only person she ever loved to a time where he is dead?

The writing and the story is just something else! How beautifully does Amy Harmon portray the feelings of Anne here? The suspicions and confusion of Thomas and everyone else was also amazingly brought to life. My only complaint from the story is that the love story did not get enough time to grow and breathe on its own. But there was so much emotions in this book that everything else can be forgiven. I particularly liked the element of suspense. Also, despite it being a historical romance in its essence, the pace never felt too slow or boring. Even though I knew the bare minimum about Ireland’s history, I was completely engaged by the story.

I give this story an extra star just for the emotions it made me feel and for how well-researched it is. Highly recommended!


★★★★★


Publication Date: 1st March, 2019.
Source: ARC from Publisher (via Netgalley)

Links – Amazon| Goodreads | Book Depository

ARC Review : THE BEANTOWN GIRLS

A novel of love, courage, and danger unfolds as World War II’s brightest heroines—the best of friends—take on the front lines.

1944: Fiona Denning has her entire future planned out. She’ll work in city hall, marry her fiancé when he returns from the war, and settle down in the Boston suburbs. But when her fiancé is reported missing after being shot down in Germany, Fiona’s long-held plans are shattered.

Determined to learn her fiancé’s fate, Fiona leaves Boston to volunteer overseas as a Red Cross Clubmobile girl, recruiting her two best friends to come along. There’s the outspoken Viviana, who is more than happy to quit her secretarial job for a taste of adventure. Then there’s Dottie, a shy music teacher whose melodious talents are sure to bring heart and hope to the boys on the front lines.

Chosen for their inner strength and outer charm, the trio isn’t prepared for the daunting challenges of war. But through it all come new friendships and romances, unforeseen dangers, and unexpected dreams. As the three friends begin to understand the real reasons they all came to the front, their courage and camaraderie will see them through some of the best and worst times of their lives.


reviewWe are not even one month in for 2019 and I already have found what would be one of my top favorites of the year! It already is the best I’ve read so far in the year. I LOVE IT!

There’s so much to love in this book. Where do I even start?! The friendship of the girls with their unique arcs, the details of the wars, the stories of the soldiers, the love stories. And the emotions! I won’t lie. I shed tears quite a few times.

My favorite thing about the book is the group of girls, even beyond the main trio who are so inherently different than each other and yet their friendship and bond was so strong! I don’t know who I love more. Dottie, the shy and quiet one who comes on her own by the end of the book. Viviana, the vivacious and uninhibited one. Fiona, the intrepid and determined one. Then there’s Blanche, Martha, Frankie and Liz. I loved all of them but my heart went all out to Fiona. I felt her emotions, her conflicts, her determination like it was me. But what stood out to me was the bond between the three that compelled Dottie and Viviana to leave everything and accompany Fiona on her journey.

The love stories of the three characters were as different as them. And yet, they never overshadowed the main story itself. And the story was about the journey of all these characters. I’m proud to say that each of these journeys were so fulfilling to read about. There are so many characters that I could name that would stay with me.

There were a couple of parts in the book where I thought “Now, that could never happen during the war” but the note at the end of the book proved me wrong! These things actually happened! She took stories from real life and put her own twist on it. The research the author put towards this story is mind-blowing! I’m in awe of her.

I can’t express how perfectly the author illustrated that era in the book. That time, the places, the situations – they all felt spot-on. She nailed the tension, camaraderie, fearlessness and the uncertainty of the soldiers and the war itself. And yet, in digging deep into the details, she never let the story lose its heart. Even with the backdrop of the war, it still was a heart-warming and a somewhat feel-good story.

This was a story about love, loss, friendship, loyalty, war and above all bravery. I could beg you to give this book a chance! Wholeheartedly recommended!


review

★★★★★


Publication Date: 5th February, 2019.
Source: ARC from Publisher (via Netgalley)

Links –  AmazonGoodreads | Barnes & Noble

Book Review : The Piper’s Son By Melina Marchetta

The award-winning author of Finnikin of the Rock and Jellicoe Road pens a raw, compelling novel about a family’s hard-won healing on the other side of trauma.

Award-winning author Melina Marchetta reopens the story of the group of friends from her acclaimed novel Saving Francesca—but five years have passed, and now it’s Thomas Mackee who needs saving. After his favorite uncle was blown to bits on his way to work in a foreign city, Tom watched his family implode. He quit school and turned his back on his music and everyone that mattered, including the girl he can’t forget. Shooting for oblivion, he’s hit rock bottom, forced to live with his single, pregnant aunt, work at the Union pub with his former friends, and reckon with his grieving, alcoholic father. Tom’s in no shape to mend what’s broken. But what if no one else is either? An unflinching look at family, forgiveness, and the fierce inner workings of love and friendship, The Piper’s Son redefines what it means to go home again.


Melina Marchetta can never disappoint me. I would wax poetry about her writing if I could. If you haven’t read any of her stuff, you’re missing out!

Tom has had a rough year. He lost his uncle, his family got torn apart right in front of him and he has pushed away his friends and the girl he loves. Now, he’s forced to crash at his aunt Georgie’s home.

Georgie also hasn’t had an easy life. She had lost her birth-father to the Vietnam war. Then, a year ago she lost her brother to a bomb-blast. She was left shattered and her ex-boyfriend Sam stepped up to pick up the pieces. Sam broke her heart 7 years ago when she told him to take some time off from their 7-year old relationship and figure out his own life. He took that to mean casually dating (Ross & Rachel, anyone?) and got a woman pregnant. Yiikes. She never forgave him but she didn’t force her friends to pick a side. So, they still ran in the same circles. Now, she’s pregnant at 42. With a guy she still hasn’t forgiven .

Then there’s Dominic. The Pied Piper. Tom’s father and Georgie’s twin brother. The father and son were inseparable. Until Dom’s brother died. And he turned to alcohol to grieve. His wife told him to get his shit back together and moved back to her hometown to protect her younger daughter. Tom couldn’t leave his father but in the end Dom walked out on him after 2 weeks

This might all sound depressing and these relationships might seem dysfunctional but far from it. There’s so much love between these characters. They are all broken and looking to heal.

My favorite part about the book was Georgie and Sam’s relationship. The way she feels so ashamed about letting in the man who broke her heart. She feels guilty about being happy with the pregnancy, because it came at the cost of her brother’s death. Then there’s Sam who spent the last 7 years with the knowledge that he lost the love of his life but he could never wholeheartedly regret because he could never regret his son Callum. FYI, Callum is the cutest kid! I loved him. And I loved seeing the whole equation between him and Georgie.

I loved Dom and Jacinta. I loved how he dropped out of law school when she got pregnant with Tom so that she could finish her own law degree. I loved how she didn’t leave him for good. She called it tough love and told him to fix himself so that she could come back. I love how after he started recovering, they’d send each other love letters.

I loved the cozy little circle Georgie, Sam and Dom had. How, everyone lived near each other and the community was tight-knit. Lucy, Abe, Bernadette, Stani and Jonesy. They were all minor characters but still had their own characteristics and roles in their friends circle. I loved the political discussions these people had and although they disagreed and argued, their friendship did not waver. How real!

I loved Tom and Tara. He blew her off after what she calls a “One and a half night stand” because his uncle died right after. She told her friends who told everyone that he broke her heart .He spends the whole book wooing her back through calls and texts because she’s in Timor now. I loved how he is forced to work with his friends at a hotel and although he is a jerk to them at first, slowly he mends his fences with them.

In fact, this book is all about mending fences and healing. Melina has an amazing way of writing family dynamics and writing it in a real way. The relationships she writes don’t ever feel far-fetched or forced. The way she can insert humor in the regularity  of moments between families and friends? That’s purely brilliant. Her stories are driven by characters and their relationships. The Piper’s Son is no exception.

By the end of the book, I was left with a longing for an entire book about the start of Dom and Jacinda with Sam and Georgie’s story.


This book made me cry and laugh and just feel grateful for my people. I couldn’t recommend this book enough to people who love stories that feel real. Stories about families and friendships.


My Rating: ★★★★★