Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart

33843362.jpgGenre: Young Adult/ Mystery

Date Published: September 5, 2017

Pages: 264

Source: Bloomsbury India Review Copy

Goodreads SynopsisFrom the author of the unforgettable New York Times bestseller We Were Liars comes a masterful new psychological suspense novel–the story of a young woman whose diabolical smarts are her ticket into a charmed life. But how many times can someone reinvent themselves? You be the judge.

Imogen is a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook, and a cheat.
Jule is a fighter, a social chameleon, and an athlete.
An intense friendship. A disappearance. A murder, or maybe two.
A bad romance, or maybe three.
Blunt objects, disguises, blood, and chocolate. The American dream, superheroes, spies, and villains.
A girl who refuses to give people what they want from her.
A girl who refuses to be the person she once was.

Buy it here – Amazon India | Amazon USThe Book Depository | Flipkart |

 Add on Goodreads

My View:  I had heard so many good things about ‘We were liars’ that when I got an opportunity to read this one by E. Lockhart, I dived at it.

Genuine Fraud pulls you right in. That was my first emotion.

And the last? After I was done reading the book – ‘What did I just read. OMG!’

Yeah, well. This book will ‘play crazy’ (insert the abusive word here) with your mind. Like really! I have never read such a creative work that takes you back. In time. Literally. No,  there’s no flashback. It’s all written in the opposite order. You go from present to the past when it all began, one chapter at a time. It’s like, wow. I really need to understand how she wrote it. Haha. Intriguing!

It’s unputdownable. I love me some crazy characters and Genuine Fraud is swarming with them. The writing is clear, precise and to the point. I finished the book in a marathon read of two days (would have finished it sooner were I at home and under usual circumstances).

Jule is my favorite character. I only wish she would have done something more, something different. But well, I didn’t write the book. And Lockart did a good enough job!

If you like a crazy, mind-boggling mystery, thriller you can finish in one sitting. This. This should be your pick.

3.5/5 stars – Somewhere between ‘I liked it’ and ‘I really liked it’.
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Author Bio:

E. Lockhart is the author of Genuine Fraud, We Were Liars, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, The Boyfriend List and several other novels.

website: www.emilylockhart.com
Liars site: www.wewereliars.com
blog: www.theboyfriendlist.com
Twitter: elockhart

 

Many thanks to Bloomsbury India for providing the review copy. All views are my own and unbiased.

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Month Wrap-Up: January 2018

I know it’s a little too late to do this wrap-up but well, life’s been busy.  Here’s what I read last month.
Read in January 2018: 11
22854394
Book of the month
 4 stars

2018 Challenge Updates

  1. Read at least 40 books (Goodreads goal) – 11 read
  2. Read more classics (at least 15) – 2
  3. Read more owned books (at least 20) – 0
  4. Read huge books (at least 3) – Shantaram, Gone with the wind and one more – 0
  5. Re-read two favorite books – Anna Karenina and Thirteenth Tale – 0
  6. Read more non-fiction/ memoir/ autobiography (at least 10) – 1

2018 ultimate reading challenge

  1. A book you read in school
  2. A book from your childhood
  3. A book published over 100 years agoHeart of Darkness
  4. A book published in the last year
  5. A non-fic book
  6. A book written by a male author
  7. A book written by a female author
  8. A book by someone who isn’t a writer
  9. A book that became a film – The painted veil
  10. A book published in the 20th century
  11. A book set in your hometown/ region
  12. A book with a name in the title
  13. A book with a number in the title – Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights
  14. A book based on a true story
  15. A book someone else recommended
  16. A book with over 500 pages
  17. A book you can finish in a day – Ghachar Ghochar
  18. A previously banned book
  19. A book with one-word title
  20. A book translated from another language – Moonrise From the Green Grass Roof
  21. A personal growth book
  22. A memoir or a journal – Tiger tiger
  23. A book by someone from another country – 
  24. A book set somewhere you’ll visit this year
  25. An award-winning book
  26. A book you read in school
  27. A book with a character with your first name
  28. A book with a place in the title
  29. A book set in the future
  30. A play
  31. A scary book
  32. A funny book
  33. A book of short stories
  34. A trilogy or series
  35. A bestseller
  36. A book you own but haven’t read
  37. A book about philosophy
  38. An epic poem
  39. A Victorian novel
  40. A book of poetry
  41. A book with a colour in the title
  42. A book with an appealing cover – Everything everything
  43. A book about psychology
  44. A book about science
  45. A graphic novel
  46. A self-published book
  47. A book from a different culture
  48. A young adult book – This sky
  49. A book of non-fiction essays
  50. A book by an author you haven’t read before
  51. A book set in a country you’ve never been to – Into the water
  52. A book set in the place you live today

How was your January reading-wise? Leave a link to your wrap-up post and I’ll come visit.

The Good Psychologist by Noam Shpancer

17679534Genre: Fiction

Date Published: Aug 3, 2010

Pages: 256

Source: Owned Books

Goodreads Synopsis: Noam Shpancer’s stunning debut novel opens as a psychologist reluctantly takes on a new client- an exotic dancer whose severe anxiety is keeping her from the stage. The psychologist, a solitary professional who also teaches a lively night class, helps the client confront her fears. But as treatment unfolds, her struggles and secrets begin to radiate onto his life, upsetting the precarious balance in his unresolved relationship with Nina, a married former colleague with whom he has a child?a child he has never met. As the shell of his detachment begins to crack, he suddenly finds himself too deeply involved, the boundary lines between professional and personal, between help and harm, blurring dangerously.

With its wonderfully distinctive narrative voice, rich with humor and humanity, The Good Psychologist leads the reader on a journey into the heart of the therapy process and beyond, examining some of the fundamental questions of the soul: to move or be still; to defy or obey; to let go or hold on.

Buy it here – Amazon India | Amazon USThe Book Depository | Add on Goodreads

My View: When you come across the word ‘psychologist’ in the book title and google the author to find out he’s a clinical psychologist himself and working in the area of anxiety disorders, your curiosity is piqued and you buy it during an online sale. The book patiently waits to be picked up for a couple of years until it’s finally brought to the forefront of the bookshelf during spring cleaning and set down by the bedside to be read.

You try not to let your expectations hit the roof and start reading without peeking at the synopsis. Gradually, you find yourself being pulled in by the setting of the therapy, the interesting client to see which direction it will take. You find yourself enthralled by the really good examples, the psychologist gives to the client and mentally make a note to add that to your therapeutic skills. And then you are put off by the casual throwing around of the client information and find yourself doing a ‘you didn’t do that!’ only to tell yourself this is fiction and perhaps the author is taking creative liberty, don’t go all ethics on him. And you read on.

The plot could have been made more interesting than it was. It did appeal to me when it began. But the only thing that held my interest steadfast was the really good examples given by the clinical psychologist to his client as well during his class. Those I intend to make use of in my therapeutic practice. I liked a bit of the unravelling but I am sure my expectations did get in the way. Perhaps I was looking for an ethical, doing it by the rules, clinical psychologist who leads the client from point A to point B but of course, this isn’t a text and not made to be taken in that way. So well, it made for an interesting one-time read but perhaps a non-psychology background reader would do it more justice by being objective about the plot and the treatment.

3.5/5 stars – Somewhere between ‘I liked it’ and ‘I really liked it’
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Author Bio:

Noam Shpancer was born and raised on an Israeli kibbutz. Currently he is a professor of psychology at Otterbein University and a practicing clinical psychologist specializing in the treatment of anxiety disorders. He is also a blogger at psychologytoday.com/blog/insight-therapy and an op-ed columnist for the Jewish bimonthly The New Standard. He lives in Columbus, Ohio.

Bout of Books 21 Updates

Wrap-Up

I didn’t happen to read a lot as it was a super busy week but I did happen to buy 18 books from the World book fair! Oops. I finished two books I had already started and started reading a couple more. But I participated in almost all the challenges. Yay!

Day 6 Challenge

Book Spine Poetry
Stack books so that the book titles make a sentence or a short poem. Funny, serious; anything’s good!
IMG_20180114_001457.jpg
If I had to tell it again,
here I am.
Beware of pity.
At the same time,
carry on
the age of innocence
to the moon.

Day 5 Challenge

Newspaper Headline
Create a newspaper headline for your favourite story/book. You can also create a clickbait title if you like!

The Painted Veil by Somerset MaughamAn Affair that shook their marriage

Day 4 Challenge

ALL THE FAVORITES!

  • Series – Waterfall by Lisa Tawn Bergren, The no.1 Ladies detective series by Alexander McCall Smith
  • Bookish blog – Lotz in Translation
  • Bookish Item – Bookmarks (I collect them on all my travels)
  • Book to Movie – The Great Gatsby
  • Book – Anna Karenina
  • Author – Leo Tolstoy, John Steinbeck
  • Vlogger – Zoe

Day 3 Challenge

Book Spine Rainbow
Take a selection of your favorite book spines to make a rainbow!
Here you go-
IMG_20180110_175806.jpg

Day 2

Finished reading and

2018 Reading Goals

Ah. New year, new goals.
  1. Read at least 40 books (Goodreads goal)
  2. Read more classics (at least 15)
  3. Read more owned books (at least 20)
  4. Read huge books (at least 3) – Shantaram, Gone with the wind and one more
  5. Re-read two favorite books – Anna Karenina and Thirteenth Tale
  6. Read more non-fiction/ memoir/ autobiography (at least 10)

Phew, well those themselves total to almost 50. I think I should stop here and not make more tall claims. :p

But here’s one more challenge I am doing this year.

2018 ultimate reading challenge

  1. A book you read in school
  2. A book from your childhood
  3. A book published over 100 years ago
  4. A book published in the last year
  5. A non-fic book
  6. A book written by a male author
  7. A book written by a female author
  8. A book by someone who isn’t a writer
  9. A book that became a film
  10. A book published in the 20th century
  11. A book set in your hometown/ region
  12. A book with a name in the title
  13. A book with a number in the title
  14. A book based on a true story
  15. A book someone else recommended
  16. A book with over 500 pages
  17. A book you can finish in a day
  18. A previously banned book
  19. A book with one-word title
  20. A book translated from another language
  21. A personal growth book
  22. A memoir or a journal
  23. A book by someone from another country
  24. A book set somewhere you’ll visit this year
  25. An award-winning book
  26. A book you read in school
  27. A book with a character with your first name
  28. A book with a place in the title
  29. A book set in the future
  30. A play
  31. A scary book
  32. A funny book
  33. A book of short stories
  34. A trilogy or series
  35. A bestseller
  36. A book you own but haven’t read
  37. A book about philosophy
  38. An epic poem
  39. A Victorian novel
  40. A book of poetry
  41. A book with a colour in the title
  42. A book with an appealing cover
  43. A book about psychology
  44. A book about science
  45. A graphic novel
  46. A self-published book
  47. A book from a different culture
  48. A young adult book
  49. A book of non-fiction essays
  50. A book by an author you haven’t read before
  51. A book set in a country you’ve never been to
  52. A book set in the place you live today

Bout of Books 21

I am doing this after so, so long. But I really need something good to happen in my life. The new year hasn’t been kind so far. So I am going to do something about it. And this is it!

For the uninitiated, here you go.

Bout of Books

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 8th and runs through Sunday, January 14th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 21 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

Hop on and join me. Let’s read away.

The Nine-Chambered Heart by Janice Pariat

36682054.jpgGenre: Fiction

Date Published: 25 November 2017

Pages: 216

Source: Harper Collins Review Copy

Goodreads Synopsis: ‘You, though, are as beautiful as light splitting through glass.’ Nine characters recall their relationship with a young woman – the same woman – whom they have loved, or who has loved them. We piece her together, much as we do with others in our lives, in incomplete but illuminating slivers. Set in familiar and nameless cities, moving between east and west, The Nine-Chambered Heart is a compendium of shifting perspectives that follows one woman’s life, making her dazzlingly real in one moment, and obscuring her in the very next. Janice Pariat’s exquisitely written new novel is about the fragile, fragmented nature of identity – how others see us only in bits and pieces, and how sometimes we tend to become what others perceive us to be.

Buy it here – Amazon India | Amazon US | Flipkart | BookDepository Add on Goodreads

My View: The first I heard of this book was when I was invited to its book launch. I had never seen a performative play before and I am glad I finally did. It was really well done, intense and made me inquisitive about the book. Of course, the prior interview with the author helped. And hence I asked for a review copy.

Lo and galore, this beautiful hardback landed in my mailbox. I started reading it the same day. While reading, my mind went back to the play. I could ‘see’ the characters playing their parts, could remember their voices. They had indeed done a really good job!

About the book, I am really not sure where to begin. The words paint vivid pictures, the expressions intense, a smile here, a curious glance there. It’s like a movie running in your head. And all the while, you’re trying to picture this character, filling in the gaps, kohl’ing her eyes, painting her lips. A little by little, as you get to know her better but do you really? Get to know her better? Or is it all a mirage and you’re just looking from nine pairs of eyes and seeing someone different each time? Is it the same person throughout? Or have the layers piled on? The character has developed and is no longer who she was earlier? Such an enigma.

Truth be told, I read so much international fiction, that sometimes it takes me ages to get into an Indian-author written book. That was so not the case with Pariat’s book. It just went on, smoothly, without any bumps. Like lyrics, the writing flew by. At times melodious, at times rough. But there it was. Very vivid and striking. It follows you days after you have read it. And you wonder.

I like the way the relationships are projected. Fleeting, fragile, gone with the wind. Isn’t it how they all are? Maybe a touch of imagination, a dash of freedom has been added but the essence remains. All these relationships, they speak their own mind, tell their own story and leave for you to unravel this person, this central character who never really appears except what you know of her through others and the kind of relationship they have had with her.

Despite all the things I liked, there are a couple caveats. I understand the need to not label names, places etc and leave them as they are. That is not a problem. But if I have to read ‘city without a river’ and ‘city with a river’ 8 times (or maybe more), it irritates the hell out of me. I would rather read ‘Delhi’ or ‘Sikkim’ or I can even do without any mention of it. But that line, again and again, drives me crazy. Really!

However, if you can put this little irritant aside, there’s a lot for you here. Hidden in this gem of a book. I think I will go back to it again one day and re-read, to once again lose myself in the mystery, the way relationships work and don’t. The way in which life goes on with hiccups. The way you don’t know where life is headed and have no control over it. And maybe learn a bit or two. To add a bit of carelessness to yourself, to live a little, to throw caution to the wind, and go on living, unabashed, unfettered…

3.5/5 stars – Somewhere between ‘I liked it’ and ‘I really liked it’.
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Author Bio:

Janice is a writer based between London and New Delhi/Shillong (depending on the weather). Her first book Boats on Land: A Collection of Short Stories won the Sahitya Akademi Young Writer Award and the Crossword Award for Fiction in 2013. Her novel Seahorse has been published by Vintage, Random House India, in November 2014.

She studied English Literature at St Stephen’s College, Delhi, and History of Art at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London.

Her work has featured in a wide number of national magazines & newspapers including OPEN, Art India, Tehelka, Caravan: A Journal of Culture & Politics, Outlook & Outlook Traveller, Motherland, and Biblio: A Review of Books, among others.

(Thank you, Harper Collins for providing me a review copy. All opinions are my own and unbiased.)

Best Reads of 2017

images.jpgWell, 2017 was a good year in terms of quantity (77 books read) but not so much in quality. I just had one 5 star read. One! Drumroll please. The award goes to-
It was also the longest book I read this year (473 pages) but it’s sheer brilliance.

On number 2, with 4.5 stars each are-

and   Highly recommended!

And here are all the 4 star reads –

Have you read one or more of these? What did you think of them? Put your best books of 2017 links in comments and I will come add more books to my TBR. Haha.

Wrap-Up 2017: What did I read this year?

Total Books read – 77

Total number of pages read – 18741

Shortest Read – The hungry caterpillar (26 pages)

Longest Read – Unbroken (473 pages)

Average length – 273 pages

Most books read in – November (14)

December 2017

November 2017

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

How was your 2017 reading wise? 

If I Had to Tell It Again by Gayathri Prabhu

36528197.jpgGenre: Memoir

Date Published: November 2017

Pages: 192

Source: Harper Collins Review Copy

Goodreads Synopsis: Sixty-six years of a lifetime gone.

There would be no funeral. He had donated his body to the local medical college. It was part of his script, his fantasy about death. He would show his hospital donation certificate to anyone who came to our house. No rituals for me, he would announce. To his mind there was some justice in being cut up by medical students. He had wanted to be a doctor.
There is his corpse, lying on the floor, people constantly milling around, talking about his untimely, unfortunate death, while I stare at everyone in dry-eyed annoyance. He had always been a popular man, much loved, generous to a fault to his neighbours, even if angry towards his own family. I just want him gone from the house. When the van from the morgue comes to pick him up, everyone urges us to touch his feet, to ask for his blessings. It is expected from children of dead parents. Everyone watches us.

You first, an old man points to me, my father s first-born.

I bend down, my fingers touch his feet.

In my mind the words form, loud and distinct I forgive you.

Buy it here – Amazon India | Amazon US | Flipkart Add on Goodreads

My View: That bare, sparse cover is a true fit for this book. It radiates what is within. The hazy memories of a lifetime gone by, the words disappearing before they are written. Written hurriedly without a thought given to the capitals. Flowing over the page, unbidden, unstoppable, like a river in motion.

This book is not an easy read. I cannot even fathom how difficult it would have been to write. At one point, the author explains why memoirs are less frequently written in our country. Because they will be read by relatives, neighbors, and friends. We belong to a  country in which people hide their shame and do not air their dirty laundries in public. But whose shame is it anyway?

The book transcends various forms of narratives and undergoes time lapses. The reality is seen via a play, heard by the author herself or told in the third narrative as if the author wants to distance herself from what is being said. As if it’s not her past. As if she wants to disown what has gone by. And who wouldn’t? With a life like that, anyone would want to hide the past under covers and never look at it again. But herein, the author stays true to what her father wanted her to be. Brave, unafraid, facing her demons, standing upto family, relatives and friends in baring the reality and brushing nothing under the carpet.

There it is, the stark, naked truth for you to see, feel and abhor. Everything that we hide, turn away from, refuse to believe, deny. The workings of our families, our societies, the bleak knowledge of mental illness and our ignorance.

When it began, it felt more like a book about the author’s journey with her father. It was only past page 80 when we began to get more than just a glimpse of her which is when the book took on a completely different turn. And I found myself falling into the vortex of her mind, feeling, experiencing, detesting.

The to and fro narratives, free of progressive timelines gave a disconnected, jarring feel to the narrative. But I believe that reflects the life of the narrator as it really was. It hasn’t been an easy one. So when a friend of the author tells her she is strong, I concur. It takes someone with an immense strength to undergo all that she has. No one can come unscathed from these experiences and neither did she. But to have come a long way and making the most of her life is what she has excelled at.

The lack of names in the memoir, identified usually by a single alphabet, a G, a N. It felt disconcerting. Not to know the names, not to know the characters well. Not to know about the author’s mother, her name, more about her. But I think this memoir is more a father-daughter’s story than anything else and the author wanted to stay true to it. Others are just passing characters in this real-life story and have been kept nameless so that we can bypass them quickly without sparing them a thought. They aren’t as important to the narrative, to the journey the author wants to take us on.

The writing is easy to read, flows well and helps the reader understand the dilemma, the uncertainty and the storm occurring within the author. This memoir is a testament to life’s difficulties and the odds against which a person rises despite being pulled down, over and over again. It’s a narrative of a difficult childhood, multiple instances of physical and sexual abuse, resulting depression, and a fight against all of it. It is undoubtedly a memoir worth reading.

3/5 stars – I liked it
3 stars

Author Bio:

Gayathri Prabhu is the author of the memoir ‘If I Had to Tell It Again’ (HarperCollins, 2017) and the novels ‘The Untitled’ (Fourth Estate, HarperCollins, 2016), ‘Birdswim Fishfly’ (Rupa, 2006) and Maya (Indialog, 2003). She presently teaches literary studies at the Manipal Centre for Philosophy and Humanities.

(Thank you Harper Collins for providing me a review copy. All opinions are my own and unbiased.)

Bread and Chocolate by Philippa Gregory

161852.jpgGenre: Short Stories

Date Published: Jan 1, 2000

Pages: 256

Source: Owned Books

Goodreads Synopsis: A  collection of short stories from one of our most popular novelists – the perfect gift. A rich and wonderful selection of short stories. A TV chef who specialises in outrageous cakes tempts a monk who bakes bread for his brothers; a surprise visitor invites mayhem into the perfect minimalist flat in the season of good will; a woman explains her unique view of straying husbands; straying husbands encounter a variety of effective responses. Just some of the delicacies on offer in this sumptuous box of delights…

Buy it here – Amazon India | Amazon USThe Book Depository | Add on Goodreads

My View: I am not much for short stories so when I pick one up, I am either in the mood for something short or am not in the mood for anything and can’t decide. But this, my my, was a brilliant choice. I finished it in less than 20 hours on a workday which is saying a lot for a 250 page book.

I probably read one book by Gregory long long back. Oh wait, after a quick check on GR, I apparently haven’t read a single one by her. I think something is fishy here. I have 4 books from one of her series adorning my shelves. And I thought I had read atleast one  by her and loved it to justify buying these 5 but oh well, maybe the GR reviews did me in.

The title story, which is also the first, reeled me in by its smell of warm bread fresh out of the oven and the deliciously dark, melting chocolate. Can you visualize it yet? Taste it? Mmmm.. like a beautiful sin it goes…

This book is a mix of stories with some sad like ‘The favour” or “The if game” but also several clever ones like “The visitor”, “The conjuring trick” and “Theories about men”.

One of my favorites was ‘theories about men’. It’s so clever and funny at the same time. I also really enjoyed ‘the wave machine’ and ‘the magic box’.

All in all, I would say the stories are women-centered and play on the power of females. However, I am pretty sure if you are not a staunch believer in patriarchy, you will enjoy these as a male too.

Gregory weaves magic with a solid punch packed in the stories. Her writing is delicate and fragile yet visual and emotional. She makes her women characters capable and clever, just the kind of women I like to read about (and encounter in the real world unless they are the evil sorts then I would rather they be dumb :p).

The book makes for a quick read and I highly recommend it.

4/5 stars – I really liked it
4 stars

Author Bio:

Philippa Gregory was an established historian and writer when she discovered her interest in the Tudor period and wrote the novel The Other Boleyn Girl, which was made into a TV drama and a major film. Published in 2009, the bestselling The White Queen, the story of Elizabeth Woodville, ushered in a new series involving The Cousins’ War (now known as The War of the Roses) and a new era for the acclaimed author.

Gregory lives with her family on a small farm in Yorkshire, where she keeps horses, hens and ducks. Visitors to her site, www.PhilippaGregory.com become addicted to the updates of historical research, as well as the progress of her ducklings.

Her other great interest is the charity she founded nearly twenty years ago; Gardens for The Gambia. She has raised funds and paid for 140 wells in the primary schools of the dry, poverty stricken African country. Thousands of school children have learned market gardening, and drunk the fresh water in the school gardens around the wells.

A former student of Sussex University, and a PhD and Alumna of the Year 2009 of Edinburgh University, her love for history and her commitment to historical accuracy are the hallmarks of her writing. She also reviews for US and UK newspapers, and is a regular broadcaster on television, radio, and webcasts from her website.

Philipa’s Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/PhilippaGregoryOfficial