Category Archives: 2 stars

Let it Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson & Lauren Myracle

Published: October 1, 2009
Publisher: Speak
Pages: 365
Source: Owned
Format: Kindle ebook

Goodreads SynopsisAn ill-timed storm on Christmas Eve buries the residents of Gracetown under multiple feet of snow and causes quite a bit of chaos. One brave soul ventures out into the storm from her stranded train and sets off a chain of events that will change quite a few lives. Over the next three days one girl takes a risky shortcut with an adorable stranger, three friends set out to win a race to the Waffle House (and the hash brown spoils), and the fate of a teacup pig falls into the hands of a lovesick barista.

A trio of today’s bestselling authors – John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle – bring all the magic of the holidays to life in three hilarious and charming interconnected tales of love, romance, and kisses that will steal your breath away.

Buy it here – Amazon India | FlipkartAmazon US | The Book Depository | Add on Goodreads

My View: I have been wanting to read this book for ages. It’s no secret that I love John Green, especially after Looking for Alaska (Read my fan-girling review here). The Fault in Our Stars was nice too (Read my review here). So when I was looking for books to read during Ho-Ho-Ho Read-A-Thon, I immediately grabbed onto it.

I was almost tempted to skip to the John Green story first but I am glad I didn’t. The stories are to be read in sequence to make sense. I guess I went in with too many expectations. It was a John Green book after all! As far as the other authors are concerned, I have never read Lauren Myracle. I have read The Name of the Star (The Shades of London Book 1) by Maureen Johnson (My review here) which I thought was okay.

The book starts off with “The Jubilee Express” by Maureen Johnson which was the best of the three.  It had a good plot, believable characters, various twists and turns and a nice end. If it had been for this story by itself, the book would have gotten 3 stars.

The next to follow was “A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle” by John Green which was surprisingly the least liked story by me. It had none of the usual John Green magic. I felt it was stretched where it wasn’t necessary and cut short where it was. The plot lacked depth, the characters didn’t really get me to root for them and the story lacked lustre. A complete fail and a blow to my expectations.

Finally came “The Patron Saint of Pigs” by Lauren Myracle. First things first, I want myself a teacup pig. Well, I wanted until I read all about it. Nope, I can’t be cruel to animals and under-feed them so that they remain cute and little. Plan aborted. As far as the story is concerned, the plot had some depth, the characters although superficial were make-do and the story derived its own happy end.

Overall, my hopes from this book were dashed. I might be a bit overcautious in buying John Green books from here on. A favorite author does not necessarily lead to a good book, I have realized.

2/5 stars – It was okay but nothing special.

2stars

Who, Me? by Tina Sharma Tiwari

Date Published: April 2015
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Pages: 262
Source: Review Copy provided by Random House India
Format: Paperback

Goodreads SynopsisIs love only about how you look? Will a makeover change Tara’s life? Can it change anybody’s life? When plain Jane Tara is dumped by her fiancé at the altar for a stunning rich heiress, it shakes her confidence. However, she’s not ready to give up. She will do whatever it takes to win her Arun back. Even if it means undergoing a complete makeover!

The school reunion is her big chance. So when Tara turns up there, completely transformed glamorous and sexy-she gets more than her fair share of attention, especially from Arun. It seems her plan is working. But soon the unexpected begins to happen and Tara finds herself in a dangerous situation. She stumbles upon secrets she’d never known. Life shows her how unpredictable it is!

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

My View: If you read my blog diligently, you know my strange habit of being wary of Indian authors for the most part. I do like some of them like Jhumpa Lahiri and I did like Mohsin Hamid (read previous review). But most of them I don’t get along with in terms of the writing.

Since I had the pleasure of going to the book launch of this one, I decided to give it a go. Also, the fact that the author is a journalist helped me take that brave decision. So was my decision right? Let’s see.

I didn’t like the cover at the first glance, it was only when I held the book in my hand was I able to appreciate that dual dressing bit and realised it was very clever and tastefully done. Well done, Pia Hazarika. I wonder why her name sounds familiar. Will look that up later.

Going past the cover, as is the norm, it took me some time to settle in with the writing. Over time, I didn’t find it difficult to traverse my way through. There were absolutely no typos, no grammatical errors as was expected of a journalist cum writer and I am glad for that.

The book is set in chick lit genre and I believe I knew that when I started reading it. Over my reading though, the book seemed to have transcended its genre from chick lit to thriller. I am not sure how I felt about it though.

The things that I liked about the book includes its being error-free and some very comical situations that had me smiling if not laughing out loud. Well done on that, you author, you!

Things that I would have liked to steer clear of – I understand chick lit does assume some innocence and stupid acts on the part of the protagonists but sometimes it got on my nerves (am I becoming a feminist by the day?). I know one shouldn’t compare books but I am reminded of Janet Evanovich series and how one tends to laugh a lot when reading her books but there are no hard feelings and no way-beyond-stupid acts. I think I had major issues with the book’s plot because I see women as strong and intelligent. Although I did see glimpses of those in another character, I somehow wanted the protagonist to have those too. I wanted to shake some sense into her. But, oh well, if I am feeling strongly for the characters, the author has done her job well, hasn’t she?

Another thing that irked me was the kind of mixing of genres, not that I mind it. But in this book, it seemed more of a forced entry than casual sneakiness. And somehow the reality was lost and the book became a hugely fictional, impossible account of a main character. That was when I realised I didn’t connect with the book any more.

Fantasies are all around us and we want to live in one. But for books termed any other genre than fantasy, I expect realistic situations and thus wasn’t too happy with the way the book advanced. The plot wasn’t for me, personally. The characters, however, were well etched and thought out. And the writing was smooth and flowing.

If you’re into chick-lit and love some thrill mixed with it, you would like this easy, breezy read. I finished reading it in two days, so that’s something.

2/5 stars – It was okay. 2stars

(All opinions expressed are my own and in no way influenced.)

Huge thanks to Random House India for providing the review copy.

The Christmas Bake-Off by Abby Clements

Published: November 20, 2012
Publisher: Quercus
Pages: 25
Source: Owned
Format: Kindle ebook

Goodreads Synopsis: With Christmas just around the corner, the residents of Skipley village are gearing up for the annual bake off, and tensions are high.

Winning means a lot to everyone involved – talented cake-shop owner Katie dreams of baking stardom, Rachel wants to prove she’s more than a stay-at-home mum, and John hopes his culinary skills will impress the woman he loves.

But when the judges discover that some cakes have been tampered with, the villagers’ loyalties are called into question – whose ambition would stretch to sabotage, and why?

The Christmas Bake-Off is an exclusive short story from Abby Clements, author of Meet Me Under the Mistletoe. This ebook edition also includes bonus recipes for cinnamon cookies and vanilla and almond biscuits.

Buy it here – Amazon US (FREE!) | Add on Goodreads

My View: Yet another book I came across to read during Ho-Ho-Ho Read-A-Thon. This one was little as well but did have a story (finally!).

Wait, did you take a good look at the cover? Isn’t it beautiful? I think it’s absolutely gorgeous. I love it! It makes me get into the Christmas mode already. Ahh, glad that Christmas is almost here. Can’t wait.

I love books that involve food and if it’s baking, then it’s a double wow. Oh wait, did I tell you there are recipes in here? Oh yeah, doesn’t it seem like a great package?

There is a plot (thank goodness!) and some likeable characters. And a story that moves on and has something to say. But there’s nothing innovative as far as the plot is concerned. Also, some of the story bits might have disappointed me. But in such few pages, one must not go on expecting a lot.

Pick up for a quick read and bakes some goodies from the recipes given.

2/5 stars – It was okay but nothing special.

2stars

Christmas in Venice: A Short Story by Meadow Taylor

Published: December 4, 2012
Publisher: Harper Collins Canada
Pages: 18
Source: Owned
Format: Kindle ebook

Goodreads Synopsis: Olivia’s Christmas trip to Venice, Italy should be a holiday dream come true. But when she’ s confronted by a handsome Italian cop about her unattended luggage, she worries she won’t even make it out of the Marco Polo Airport…

Buy it here – Amazon US (FREE!) | Add on Goodreads

My View: I was sifting through my owned books to read during Ho-Ho-Ho Read-A-Thon when I came across this. But well, I didn’t realize it was that short! It finished even before it began. At 18 pages, it was too short to pack a punch.

It did make for an interesting prologue though but where’s the book? Lol. Amidst confusion and Christmas and some hilarity, the book hints at romance to follow but well, the book ends there.

There was no time/ pages to hint at the beginning of a plot or development of characters but perhaps the author was testing the waters before jumping in.

Read for a feel-good holiday book peek.

2/5 stars – It was okay but nothing special.

2stars

A Very Holly Christmas by Sheila Roberts

Published: November 15, 2011
Publisher: St. Martins Press
Pages: 19
Source: Owned
Format: Kindle ebook

Goodreads Synopsis: Shelia Roberts is back with the hilarious short follow up to On Strike For Christmas. This short story will bring you right back to the spirited town of Holly, one year after the big strike! For even more Christmas (this time with a touch of romance) don’t miss The Nine Lives of Christmas, coming November 2011.

Buy it here – Amazon US (FREE!) | Add on Goodreads

My View: Another one I picked up for a short, quick read for Ho-Ho-Ho Read-A-Thon but I didn’t realize it was THAT short! It ended before it even began. I think this was meant as a little quickie by the side in collaboration with another book. So reading this on its own doesn’t really make much sense.

But had it been a murder mystery instead of romance, I might have liked it better. Lol. Yeah yeah, I know expecting murder in a Christmas-y read. But well, wouldn’t that be a great thriller surprise? Just imagine!

In so short a story, you, of course, can’t go looking for a plot or in-depth characters. So that’s about it.

Pick it up at your own risk.

2/5 stars – It was okay but nothing special.

2stars

Holiday Sparks by Shannon Stacey (Audiobook Review)

Narrator: Savannah Richards
Date Published: July 23, 2013
Publisher: Carina Press
Pages: 65
Source: Purchased at Audible
Format: Audiobook

Goodreads SynopsisA short story from Naughty and Nice: A Holiday Romance Collection

House-sitting for her parents seemed like a good idea, until the microwave blew up and the lights went out.

Now Chloe Burke thinks upgrading the electrical system of her childhood home while they are away would make the perfect Christmas gift. Fortunately, there’s an electrician in town who can get the job done by the holidays.

Scott Quinn has wanted to get his hands on the Burkes’ wiring for almost as long as he’s wanted to get his hands on their daughter. Chloe didn’t notice Scott back in high school, but she’s noticing him now, and soon they’re indulging in a little festive fun: no strings, no expectations. After all, Chloe plans to get out of this goldfish bowl of a town and back to her real life in Boston by New Year’s.

But Chloe and Scott discover they enjoy each other’s company just as much out of bed. Could their holiday fling turn out to be the real thing?

Buy it here –  Amazon USAdd on Goodreads

My View:  I listened to this free little audiobook during the Ho-Ho-Ho Read-A-Thon. Spanning about an hour, it’s quite short. I do love myself a good edited book instead of one that goes on and on with no end in sight.

The book makes for a cute little, Christmas-y romantic read. It has a decent plot (albeit, not very innovative) and two relatable characters. The holiday, romantic feeling is what I liked the most.

The narrator does a good job of making the book sound interesting. The emotional tones are nicely brought about.

But I may have a bit of a problem with romantic short stories. I do not like insta-love. In a short story, you can’t go on building the love. So there lies my problem.

Also, physical intimacy or sex stepping in too soon and on multiple instances just puts me off at times. What is wrong with love expressed through words and some cherished cuddle moments, I wonder. Well, perhaps I am too old-fashioned at times. *snort*

If you are looking for a short, smoky holiday read, you may want to give it a try.

2/5 stars – It was okay but didn’t do wonders for me. 2stars

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead (Audiobook Review)

18660669Series: (Vampire Academy #1)
Date Published: August 16, 2007
Publisher: Razobill
Pages: 332
Source: Purchased at Audible
Format: Audiobook

Goodreads Synopsis: St. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very place where they’re most in danger. . . .

Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever

Buy it here – Amazon India | FlipkartAmazon US| The Book Depository | Add on Goodreads

My View:  Frankly, I am really not into paranormal and would rather stay away from vampires. Twilight did hold my attention but it was more of an anomaly than a rule. But when my favorite group on Goodreads had another toppler and I got assigned the task of reading about vampires, I decided to give this series a go ahead since it’s all the rage in books and series alike.  Also, the fact that I had a lot of house cleaning to do and I had this audio on hand made matters easy. I finished this book in a 6.5 hours listening marathon while cleaning and re-organizing my apartment.

First things first, this book was easy to listen to. 2 hours into the audio, I upped the speed from my usual 1.5 to 2 and I was still able to do okay with it. The book started off well enough, pulling my attention to it. But soon I kind of lost interest hoping for something interesting to come by. Well, guess what, it didn’t. I am romantic by nature and do love romance in my books but for the first in the series, I would  have rather had more background about the world created and what was going on instead. I felt the book was stretched more than was necessary and the important details were still missing. There were more questions than answers which I guess is what the first part of a series is all about, which leads me to think that maybe I don’t do that well with series. I have started and abandoned many series because the first didn’t hold my attention. I believe for the series, the rule for the author should be – if there’s too much to tell, divide it into parts, if there isn’t, better make it a standalone instead of stretching things out in order to make it a trilogy. A good example of series that pulled me in would be Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers and Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta. I have read too many firsts in the series lately that I will not be following upon.

I have read reviews in which readers went ga-ga over Dmitri. Well, no such luck in my case. The characters did not pull me in. They did not make me feel for them. The intensity, the drama was missing. Or am I being biased because perhaps my audio lacked something? I will never know because as far as I am concerned I am done with this series. I might catch the movie though.

What did you think of this one?

2/5 stars – It was okay but didn’t do wonders for me. 2stars

The Crossover Year by Bhargavi Balachandran

19324492Published by: Alchemy Publishers
Genre: Chick lit
Date Published: 11/20/2013
Pages: 288
Source: Own

Goodreads Synopsis: Meet Sri Anuprabha, aka Anu, a twenty-nine year-old banker who is terrified of entering her thirties. She dreams of quitting her job at the bank, sporting yoga pants and traipsing around the world. Her world turns upside down when things go awry and she is faced with the prospect of spending her days watching Tamil serials. She comes up with a five-point plan for reclaiming her life back before she hits the big 30. But things are never as simple as drawing up a flowchart in real life, are they? Especially with a ghastly recession rearing its ugly head…. Anu bumbles through the corridors of domesticity and travels on a funfilled roller coaster ride in a bid to discover her passion in life.Along the way, she meets new people, experiences crazy new things and learns some hard lessons in marriage, friendship, parenting and life. The Crossover Year is a funny, yet heartwarming story of a woman in search of her identity, and a chronicle of her hilarious quest for discovering her inner mojo. Bring out a platter of cookies and a steaming mug of chai, and join Anu on the ride of her lifetime.

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

My View: I picked up this book for a Goodreads challenge for one of my groups. The challenge was to pick up a book with less than 500 ratings. I have a couple of books lying around which fit the bill but this seemed the most interesting and easy to breeze through, so I ended up picking it up.

I am kind of embarrassed to say this but I have some problems reading an Indian-authored book unless it’s a masterpiece by Rushdie, Lahiri etc. The reason being the English is just different from the ones I am used to reading (non-Indian authors). But every once in a while, I motivate myself and go on. I did struggle a bit initially with the typos, grammatical errors and the different style of writing but later on, I gave in.

As far as the plot is concerned, it isn’t something out of the blue or very novel but it works for a book like this whose genre is chick-lit and is supposed to make you laugh. Well that is actually the plus point of the book. The book is funny at a few places and made me smile, if not laugh. The author has gone to a great extent to up the funny quotient. And I applaud her for that.

As far as reality is concerned, the office politics and some of the instances are spot on but sometimes the book steps way too far from reality to be believable. The main character of Anu is a marvel indeed and you will find yourself laughing at her antics. There are a lot of other characters in the book but I am most impressed by her husband and would have liked if more spotlight had been put on him.

The major weaknesses of the book were a loose plot, too many characters and stories (it is as if the author wanted to put in everything) and some cliches (happy ending et al).

The major plus point, of course, is the funny bit. The book spells good fun and is an easy, quick read lasting a few hours.

2 stars – It was okay.

2stars

Without Tess by Marcella Pixley

Goodreads Summary: Tess and Lizzie are sisters, sisters as close as can be, who share a secret world filled with selkies, flying horses, and a girl who can transform into a wolf in the middle of the night. But when Lizzie is ready to grow up, Tess clings to their fantasies. As Tess sinks deeper and deeper into her delusions, she decides that she can’t live in the real world any longer and leaves Lizzie and her family forever. Now, years later, Lizzie is in high school and struggling to understand what happened to her sister. With the help of a school psychologist and Tess’s battered journal, Lizzie searches for a way to finally let Tess go.

Buy it here – AMAZON | Add it on Goodreads

My Views: This book reminded me of Imaginary Girls in the beginning. It is about two sisters, the younger dependent on the elder and the elder is a bit given to fancies and such. But no thankfully, this one’s better than that but not by much.

I wish the story could have been more. The shifting of past and present is a bit confusing but liveable. However, I wish the psychologist’s role and Tess’s journal could have been given more part in the book.

All in all, this is an ok book but it did not appeal to me.

2/5 stars – It was ok.