Book Review: Virtually Yours (another disappointing rom-com)

Hello Readers!

Haha, you must be wondering another post so soon? She posted like 2 days ago lool. I know, this is new even for me. But I’ve really been reading this month and I want to review as i read along. i am really enjoying blogging these days so brace yourselves for another fun post coming soon! (maybe day after tomorrow) I am shocked at myself as i write this too haha.

But before I start, can we talk about this really weird new block format of posts that WordPress has introduced? Does anyone else find it annoying too, because I sure as hell do! It is interfering in my editing skills that I learned with such hassle anyway lol and now this. I can’t seem to attach picture without a dozen confusing options about block/document; cover/image or what?? This is killing me. Please give me back the old wordpress editor.

Moving on, I’ll be talking about another rom-com//chick-lit// contemporary YA which is basically a disguise for “another love-story made on a dating app”. Seriously, I am not kidding every other chick-lit I’m reading these days is on social media or a dating app or fake accounts or in this case, virtual reality dating HAH.

My Rating: 1/5

Goodreads Synopsis:

NYU freshman Mariam Vakilian hasn’t dated anyone in five months, not since her high school sweetheart Caleb broke up with her. So, when she decides to take advantage of an expiring coupon and try out a new virtual reality dating service, it’s sort of a big deal. It’s an even bigger deal when it chooses as one of her three matches none other than Caleb himself. That has to be a sign, right?

Except that her other match, Jeremy, just happens to be her new best friend IRL.

Mariam’s heart is telling her one thing, but the app is telling her another. So, which should she trust? Is all fair in modern love?

My Thoughts:

Let’s start with the good, shall we? So our Mariam in the story has just started going to college. She is figuring out what she should do, what she should major in and what courses to take. This, for me, has always been really relatable and nice to see people figure out themselves with time. Her roommate, Hedy, who’s btw named after Audrey Hepburn is obviously a Film Studies Major Student and the conversations she has with Mariam on Italian movies, their colour schemes, the acting is so interesting to read about. There is a lot of talk on classic movies which is nice to see in books. Other than that, I really appreciated the inclusion of Irani culture. I always love reading about cuisines and cultures of different lands and Irani plus being Muslims was a nice diverse touch.

Now why did I not like this book?

  • For starters, everyone in this book just seem to be concerned about love and relationships. Mariam’s roommate is not in her room? Oh she’s with her girlfriend. Mina’s (mariam’s sister) life is so boring – because she doesn’t have a boyfriend. Even their dinner-time family conversations comprise of “Who are you dating? Did you find anyone? Are there any cute guys?” And when siblings are having a nice day out, even then they JUST TALK ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS. Like is there absolutely nothing valuable about your lives?
  • It was unnecessarily repetitive. Atleast uptill 40% of the book, nothing happened except Mariam making a fake account and catfishing her ex-boyfriend. I get how interesting and messed up this could be, but it could have the same effect in 2 or 3 chapters rather than 11 chapters. So the whole idea got pretty worn out too soon.
  • Under-developed character relationships. I am a huge sucker for characters! Give me character background story, their growing up story, their flaws and talents and hobbies and weave them into a kickass story-line and you’ll have a 5/5 star book! The characters in this book were all so bland. I loved Hedy only because we could see her passion of movies come through pages, she had her own presence to make in the story which was unfortunately missing from all the characters. Caleb, the ex-boyfriend, had no personality. Jeremy, the best friend, existed only to give love advices and to serve a happy-ever-after end. Its really sad if even after 345 pages, the only thing you know about the character is that they are a brother, sister, parent or a friend of the protagonist.
  • Also, the characters do not act their age which is 18+. It feels like Mariam, Caleb and even Mina are all in high-school by the way they honestly talk about all the stuff. It gives off major juvenile vibes.

I know the synopsis rounds rather cute-sy and all, but honestly naah. I wouldn’t recommend this. But if you want to read friends-turned-lovers trope through also adding the dating app twist, then you should rather give My Favourite One-Night Stand a chance or the new book, The Right Swipe (I haven’t read this one, but it is next on my list).

( I really wanted to insert the book-covers of the said books above but I cant get to attach them side by side together. I don’t know it gives some sort of a block option which for the life of me, I can’t seem to grasp the understanding of. Is there a guide or something I can see for the new changes?)

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Book Rant: The Girl He Used To Know by Tracey Garvis Graves

About the Book:

Girl (loves books and majoring in English) meets Boy (wall street freak and majoring in Business) and fall in love. Ten years down the lane, we find out that they somehow have broken up due to something that happened in the past but both the characters have had time to sought their lives out. The story is of personal development, growth, love and heart-breaks that happen in their lives and how it changes them. Question is, will they re-kindle and if they do, are they ready to face the difficulties that tore them apart in the past?

Continue reading “Book Rant: The Girl He Used To Know by Tracey Garvis Graves”

Book Review: Every Heart a Doorway

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If you’ve spent your childhood wanting to be Alice, Dorothy or any of the Narnia siblings, then (a) You’ve wanted to escape your life really bad, and (b) you’ve probably noticed how these stories always just end once the children come back to the real world after their magical adventures to parallel universes. The narratives usually leave you feeling bittersweet and elegiac at the end; seldom, if ever, do they talk about what becomes of these children after they return to their real world. Every Heart a Doorway answers all these questions and deals with children’s feelings once they return.

Continue reading “Book Review: Every Heart a Doorway”

Everything I never told you by Celeste Ng

So I just very randomly opened up the drafts of my blog section and found this book review lying unpublished. Like how could I have not posted this?? (The “schedule later” section is silently and wickedly looking at me like ‘i told you so, hun’) *sighs*

Now I finally know when Schedule Later could come into handy.

ANYWAY.

So thoughts on Celeste Ng’s debut novel, huh?

When it first came out, I remember there was a quite a rage about it in the book community. From topping Amazon’s 100 best books of the year to being a New York Times Notable book, it was quite clear that the author would come out soon with another of her book which would be equally ravishing to read. And well, Little Fires Everywhere, was indeed a treat.

So because I read this book a little time back, I don’t remember a lot about it but I will try to articulate my words as clearly as possible. The story takes place in America in the 1970’s during a time when there was a rising issue about the acceptance and treatment of American born Chinese and follows a journey of a similar family trapped between the hinges of being a native American while also staying close to their Chinese roots. It is a heartfelt story of family, identity, race-ethnicity. The narrative starts with the murder of the oldest daughter in the family who’s body was found drowned in the lake. The rest of the book deals with the aftermath of this tumultous incident and its impact on each of the family members. From here, the story goes in a reverse chronological order and we are led through the events that took place before the event which ultimately lead to Lydia committing her suicide. It tackles issues of all kinds that an American teenager of an immigrant background has to face. From succumbing to societal pressures about being ‘a true American’ to family pressures about ‘being perfect, being successful and good on the exterior’ – it talks about real issues of race, color and your social identity. Knowing that it is the author’s own voice adds an extra edge to the story and makes the reader feel as if they’re reading a personalised account of events.

“How had it begun? Like everything: with mothers and fathers. Because of Lydia’s mother and father, because of her mother’s and father’s mothers and fathers.” 

One of the things I really liked about the book were the characters. A story is made tenfold more interesting if the characters are three-dimensional and relatable. In this book, it wasn’t like Malfoy or Harry Potter where you instantly just disliked or liked a character, you know? Over here, the build-up of each character is slow and deep, showing us complete reflections of everyone, taking it’s sweet time to make the readers understand the complexity of each character. Lydia’s way of showing everything was perfect on the outside and the reasons of her tormented relationship with her brother, Nath, is slowly but very subtly made clear to the readers.

“When a long, long time later, he stares down at the silent blue marble of the earth and thinks of his sister, as he will at every important moment of his life. He doesn’t know this yet, but he senses it deep down in his core. So much will happen, he thinks, that I would want to tell you.”

However, the most grief-stricken reaction evoking from the readers is by the character of Lydia’s youngest sister, Hannah. She seems to be like an outsider, a spectator in the beginning but slowly, as we our led to her train of thoughts, it dawns on us how much she has been ignored and how much the readers as well as the characters in the story have under-estimated her presence.

On the contrary, one thing that I really did not like is that the book sometimes get overly-descriptive which kind of drags the story. Like how many times do you have to show the people on the streets looking at Lydia to make a point that she feels like an outsider? As much as I felt that, it became a little repetitive after a while. Secondly, the blurb at the back of the book is really deceiving. I went into this book thinking it was a thriller or a murder mystery, but look how different it turned out to be. So because my expectations of the book were very different, I think that somehow hindered me from “loving” this book.

And then there was this whole ending which I hated. I hated it because it was so abrupt leaving so many things unsettled. I think the end was somewhat symbolic of how deeply-rooted this issue of racism is and how it takes generations to alleviate this issue. But on the other hand, I really would have liked it if the author had provided some kind of an epilogue where we would have known if this particular incident made the parents realise and see their mistakes (lowkey REALLY wanted to know how Hannah was doing!!)

My Rating: 3.5/5

You should really read it though if you’re looking for a good complex family read + this book has good writing-style so that’s always one reason why you should read a book.

 

Let me know your thoughts about the book if you’ve read it! 

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The Hate U Give – Book + Movie Review

So I finally read one of the most talked about books in the community and it goes without saying that I loved this book! I also watched the movie and decided to do a book-to-movie adaptation post. So bear with me, this is gonna be a tad bit looongg!

You know how there are some books which have out of this world, nerve wracking, pitted with emotions and reality-based plot AND characters or some books which contain an important social message solely exist to equip you with the “world-is-changing-so-things-need-to-change” talk? Imagine reading a book which is BOTH. The Hate U Give is one of those beauties, and every person, teenage or adult, black or white, Muslim or Christian should read it.


The book is based on the Black Lives Matter Movement in America and tells about the situation of the black people living there through the life of a 16-year old girl, Starr Carter, who witnessed the shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil.

Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right. “

 

Now I have never seen someone die, or been in a situation where my heart would ache for a loved one like Starr’s did so even though I couldn’t relate to it on a personal level, Angie Thomas’s writing was so raw, authentic and overflowing with real emotions, that it almost felt like Khalil was my best friend! Reading this book was truly a mind-blowing experience. You could almost visualise the grocery story where Starr worked, hear the gunshots in Garden Heights, smell the delicious aroma of Mr.Rueben’s burgers, feel the tension in the air when the cops held Khalil. It made me realise that there are so many problems in this world to which we are oblivious to and I’m glad that people are now writing about it!!! We need to know these issues so we, as people, can make a change.

Another beautiful thing about the book is how light humour, fun and everyday family fanatics have been packed into the dialogues. I loved the banter between Starr’s parents, especially the sassiness of her mom. Like damn son, she was savage! I absolutely LOVED HER. It just makes my heart explode with satisfaction when I see such powerful, witty female characters. It was such a change from the non-existent parents that are usually found in YA novels.

The relationship of Starr with each of her family member was also very dynamic. I loved how her thoughts were written out, what she thought of Seven’s girlfriend, or how Seven would hide her “white-boyfriend-stuff” from their dad, or even cute little Sekani eating up all the bacon. It put a very warm ring to the whole story.

I think I’ll rate the book: 4.5/5

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Ok, so the thing with reading a book prior to watching it’s movie is that when you’re watching the movie, you’re constantly comparing the entire thing with the book. Like “no they didn’t kiss in the book!” Or “no that’s not how they met!” which can suck at times because it takes away the whole impact that the movie is trying to make. I mean like ofcourse the movie can’t portray emotions like the book does, duh. We can’t read about feelings in a movie, so that part is solely dependant on the actors. And let me tell you, Amandla Stenberg did a brilliant job of an angsty, frustrated black teen who’s continuously shifting between two social identities – the “girl from the hood” and the “cool black Williamson girl”.

The movie is successful in portraying the major themes of the book: police brutality, childhood emotional trauma, importance of the lives of marginalised groups and low-key appreciation of Tupac’s songs (that shit is brilliant, my friend has legit been trying to get me to listen to Tupac and I think now’s the time I do that???) But most of all, what makes this story bat-shit awesome is that it’s a girl being a hero.

Now I know, that lately there have been quite a lot of books/movies with strong female leads but they’re also all some sort of a secret assassin/ninja/hacker who’s fighting with all the evil villains of the world and trying to save that one boyf/parent/friend etc. I mean as much as that’s rad and cool, that shit ain’t real! The Hate U Give, and the way Starr projects her rage and trauma into speaking for her people’s rights, testifying in front of the grand jury is real damn courage!! And really, hats off to the director and the actors for connecting with the emotions of the text and projecting them onto the wide screen!

But. (Ofcourse there is a but…told u this would be long.)

SO MANY PARTS HAVE BEEN SKIPPED AND SO MANY HAVE BEEN ADDED AND I’M NOT OKAY!

  • Where is DeVante?

I think DeVante served a much larger purpose than just being Kenya’s boy-toy. Compared to the book, DeVante has zero appearance in the movie except for a teeny tiny 2-min scene in the beginning. In the book however, we see how DeVante is the one who makes Starr realise why Khalil dealt drugs, whether he a part of the King Lords, and also he’s the one beaten up by the King Lords in the end during the riots and not Seven (as in the movie!)

Also, he makes a good charity case for Uncle Carlos when he takes in DeVante under his roof when the King Lords were after his life. It kinda served as Uncle Carlos’s guilt of trying to makeup for what the police did to Khalil and how he couldn’t do anything at the time.

So I guess I probably would have liked to see DeVante in the movie too, yknow?

 

  • Exchange between Uncle Carlos and Starr 

Book:  Uncle Carlos tells Starr, “I hate that I let myself fall into that mind-set of trying to rationalize his death. And at the end of the day, you don’t kill someone for opening a car door. If you do, you shouldn’t be a cop.”

Movie: Uncle Carlos is basically trying to justify Officer Brian’s actions (the cop who shot at Khalil), by saying that the cops are usually put in a position where they don’t know what to expect from the other person? So whatever he did, he did it to protect himself. However, uncle Carlos did conclude with the note that if it was a white boy instead of Khalil, he wouldn’t have shot him.

I think they twisted around the words a bit to take a more neutral stance and not be bused towards the police? Or else the movie would have been criticised to be more critical towards the police force rather than the message it was trying to put. I mean, yeah uncle Carlos did explain it well so I guess I was sort of indifferent to the change here.

 

  • OHMYGOD THAT END THOUGH! 

 This is a major spoilerrrrrr.

Because.

This part of the movie was my absolute favourite! The directors took the whole “THUG LIFE” (The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everybody) to an entirely new level – an idea that Khalil introduces to Starr on the night he’s killed. It’s the notion that everyone suffers when the children who have been imbued with hate and anger become a menace to society. I don’t want to give the scene away (watch it for yourselves!) but it was the peak of rising emotion and one of the few scenes in Hollywood cinema that I would call ‘iconic’.

 Truly, this addition was my favourite cuz it just makes the message so damn C.L.E.A.R!

So all-in-all, I think good job for the movie.

Totally recommended ✅

But if you can read the book first, do that first! It’s also slightly more humorous than the movie has let on.

That’s my take on the whole adaptation thing guys. I hope you liked this post! Share any thoughts that you guys have on the movie or book. Would love to chat with you!!!

Norwegian Wood – Book Review

Haruki Murakami is my favourite author and Norwegian Wood is my fav book of the year so far. This book was perfection. From the plot and story-line, to the characters and the writing-style, Murakami did everything perfectly. (I’m ignoring the weird sexual tension that circulated most of the characters, though).

My rating: 4.5/5 stars

Continue reading “Norwegian Wood – Book Review”

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Well, this was an interesting read. Can’t say I didn’t enjoy it. It was as fun and intriguing to read as the Sorceror’s Stone and it definitely had two of my favourite scenes ever.

I LOVE THE WORLD-BUILDING. I mean, the whole wizards stuff, Hogwarts, Quidditch…everything I loveeee. LOVE. I just can’t believe I never read these books as a child. Moreover, I’m glad I don’t remember much from the movies either…think that’s why reading these is such a fun-filled ride for me.

Continue reading “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”

Book Review: Far from the Tree by Robin Benway

 

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My Rating: 4/5

Am I on a roll here or what? Seriously, this is my fourth book review of the month and the third review in a week. WHAT THE……. I have never ever in my reading life been so efficient and since I’ve been reading my whole life, that kind of sluggishness suffices my entire life.

Jeez, I’m making serious progress here. All too shocked and proud?!

So I’ll quit babbling about my efficiency and before this turns out to be a “me post” , let us get into the reviewing part. Let me start with telling ya’ll THAT OH MY THIS BOOK IS SUPER AMAZING! I LOVE IT. From broken families and nice functional foster families, to

Continue reading “Book Review: Far from the Tree by Robin Benway”

Book Review: Here We Are Now by Jasmine Warga – another unpopular opinion

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My Rating: 1/5

Synopsis:

Despite sending him letters ever since she was thirteen, Taliah Abdallat never thought she’d ever really meet Julian Oliver. But one day, while her mother is out of the country, the famed rock star from Staring Into the Abyss shows up on her doorstep. This makes sense – kinda – because Julian Oliver is Taliah’s father, even though her mother would never admit it to her.

Julian asks if Taliah if she will drop everything and go with him to his hometown of Oak Falls, Indiana, to meet his father – her grandfather – who is nearing the end of his life. Taliah, torn between betraying her mother’s trust and meeting the family she has never known, goes.

With her best friend Harlow by her side, Taliah embarks on a three-day journey to find out everything about her ‘father’ and her family. But Julian isn’t the father Taliah always hoped for, and revelations about her mother’s past are seriously shaking her foundation. Through all these new experiences, Taliah will have to find new ways to be true to herself, honoring her past and her future.

Continue reading “Book Review: Here We Are Now by Jasmine Warga – another unpopular opinion”

The Gilded Cage by Vic James

HEY EVERYONEE!

I *finally* finished Gilded Cage which was actually supposed to be a buddy-read with Victoria during the spring break! (haha yeah which was like 3 months back. Look at me keeping up with my plans)

I don’t even know how Victoria @ Be Careful of Books kept up with me, but seriously she’s the sweetest to do a buddy-read with. It was a lot of fun because we decided to send each other videos whenever something sad or shocking happened. So it was really cool watching each other’s initial reactions! I’m glad to say, that we agreed on a lot of things (YAYY!)

My Review

Rating: 2/5

Attractive cover.
Instant cover buy.

Interesting as hell synopsis.

In modern-day Britain, magic users control everything: wealth, politics, power—and you. If you’re not one of the ultimate one-percenters—the magical elite—you owe them ten years of service. Do those years when you’re old, and you’ll never get through them. Do them young, and you’ll never get over them.

This is the darkly decadent world of Gilded Cage. In its glittering milieu move the all-powerful Jardines and the everyday Hadleys. The families have only one thing in common: Each has three children. But their destinies entwine when one family enters the service of the other. 

Now who wouldn’t want to read something like this, yeah? The first two chapters were grrrrrreat. Good plot-line. I wanted to read more and know more about the characters’ plight. What I found, however, was the introduction of more and more characters as chapters progressed, pointless POV’s which were literally contributing no substance to the story; whatsoever, and a mesh of 10000 conflicts all of which were left unresolved or just abruptly and stupidly solved. 60% of the book was senseless pov’s, i repeat. A LOT OF repetition, and I kid you not, around 50 characters of whom 3 were the only important ones.

Even the main characters all lacked personality except maybe, Silyen, one of the Jardine brother. He was a cruel, heartless Equal but atleast it was clear what he wanted, what his goals were and who he liked or hated. The other people were merely pawns in the story just carrying the plot line forward with no mind or thinking ability of their own. I couldn’t connect to them at alllllll.

The only person I felt a tiny bit of pain for, was Luke, one of the kids in the Hadleys family who was separated from the rest of the family. He was THE ONLY ONE who actually suffered, and see the difference in lives between the Equals and the Normals. His story had action. Unfortunately, we don’t read much of him either.

What we read about, is the annoying slave-girl, Abigail. God!! I wanted to shoot her in the head!!!!
This girl’s family was torn apart, bound to the Equals to serve them, her brother in war-torn conditions in a land far away, and you know what troubles her the most??????

Ugh, Would it be a spoiler if I say so? (Hint: a very very very very forced kick-in-your-crotch-spit-on-your-neck kinda stupid romance)

This girl was crazy.
Idk what thought process Vic James was going through, but there were major contradictions in all of characters’ personality.

The ending was very abrupt. Suddenly wrapped up. And it was very very evident that it ended the way it did, only because the writer wanted to write a sequel. The reason it gets 2 stars, instead of 1 is, bec the start was good, and the last chapter also had some read-able substance. Everything in the middle? *eye-roll*

My Review (1)

My Rating: ★★★

My Thoughts: The world building of this book was really interesting. I loved the mix of fantasy and alternative history. The Equals are essentially a super hero class of people, they have ‘skill’ which are essentially magical powers and therefore are the ruling class. The ordinary people owe the Elites ten years of slavery known as the ‘slave days’ and everyone can chose to serve out their slave days whenever they want, as long as they do them. They say in the book that if you do your slave days too old, you won’t survive them, and if you do them too young you won’t recover from them. They’re pretty damn brutal. The novel starts with the Hadley family parents telling their children that they have signed them all up for their slave days, the parents thought it would be best to do the days all together as a family (I’ll get into that a bit more soon), but when they arrive their son is taken from them to work in Millmoor (one of the most notorious slave camps in the country).

What a cool premise!

The problem I have with it is that despite the fact that the world building was really cool, this is a character driven story and… the characters were a mess.

To start with, there were a lot of them. It became tricky to keep track.

Secondly, they all kind of made stupid choices, all the time. Lets start with the Hadley parents. They signed their kids up for slavery without consulting them!? They talked to their oldest daughter about it, but not the other two kids. It seems like a really terrible thing to spring on them. They’re also really emotionally flat. When their son is taken away they’re just like ‘oh I hope he’s okay and I guess we’ll see him in ten years then’. THIS IS YOUR CHILD. Have an emotion people! And when anything traumatic happens its almost like they don’t notice. Its weird.

Abi is the oldest daughter. She is meant to be the smart one. And holy shit is she an idiot. Before leaving for the slave days she is obsessed with reading romance novels featuring normal people who fall in love with and have an affair with Equals during their slave days. She says ‘oh I would never be stupid enough to expect that’ and then any time an Equal so much as breathes in her direction she’s thinking ‘is this it?’ ‘is he into me?’ ‘oh are we going to fall in love?’. Even when she should be afraid of them she runs TOWARDS Equal men to protect her, totally forgetting that they have her enslaved. It makes no sense! Even when she is repeatedly slapped in the face with the fact that legally, slaves aren’t considered fully human, she insists on believing she is the exception. She does have a bit of a romantic story arc with one of the Equals but I kind of hope it comes to bite her in the ass later in the series.

Luke was my favourite character, he seems to be the most realistic in this family. He sees the slave days as…. slavery and thinks that’s wrong. He’s in Millmoor for most of the book, working in a terrible slave camp where he is pretty brutalised. He is the hero of this story from my view, and though we are meant to be sympathetic to the entire Hadley family, I really only found myself invested in Luke.

The youngest child, Daisy, is only ten. The minimum age requirement for slave days. She ends up a babysitter to an Equal baby and… its real gross. She ends up being really defensive of the Equals and thinks they’re all really good people or misunderstood or something. But I guess she is a little kid. She was the least developed Hadley.

Around their story is the story of a massive political conflict around slave days and Equals and all of it.

I have such mixed feeling about this book.

The whole arc of Equals, Skill, and the politics that is happening in the background is fascinating. Its just these characters…

Its difficult.

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So there’s that, guys! Have you guys read this story?? What did you think of it?

Until then,

Happy Reading!