When I Was Joe

Author: Keren Davids

Well written,  and fully action-packed; such is this Thriller!  

Davids effortlessly whips up this compelling novel about teen-pregnancy,  abuse, murder, identity, beliefs coming of age, teen rebellion, puppy love, frienship, sexual discovery which add up to keep you riveted.

The plot is amazing. Each character has a poignant voice,  and each character has a story. 

Although the protagonist,  Ty whp witnesses murder early on in the pages, he doesn’t really open up to what actually he witnessed

This book will tell you why young kids fall into violence. 

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Anna and the French Kiss

Uhum you read the title right.
If you are looking for a light read, I mean a feather-light read, you can sort of try this one out 

The drama level is mediocre, the plot is cliche, but it’s overall an adorable make-up. 

it took my mind off things,  and plus it explores France and I am heavily obsessed with everything French (Frenchatic?  Frenchaniac?), and hence I actually did like reading it. It’s always nice to wander to far off places and read about things that’ll never happen to oneself.

Angels Fall


Author: Nora Roberts
Genre: Murder, Mystery, Contemporary Romance, Thriller.

Page Count:  391

Book Synopsis:  A chef moves to a small town in Wyoming after her Boston restaurant is shut down because of a fatal shooting. She starts to come to terms with her situation and the town,  untill things take a turn when she witnesses a mass murder in a hiking trail.

Movie Adaptation: Angels Fall (2009) 

This is the first suspense/mystery novel I read in my early teens and it’s an absolute thriller!(And I don’t say that from a thirteen year old’s point of view)

The journey is fluid! Each event glides past smoothly and tantamounts to a really good mystery! The novel has elements of romance, mystery, thrill, murder-making it a really engaging experience.

Here’s a sneak:

REECE GILMORE smoked through the tough knuckles of Angel’s Fist in an overheating Chevy Cavalier. She had two hundred forty-three dollars and change in her pocket, which might be enough to cure the Chevy, fuel it and herself. If luck was on her side, and the car wasn’t seriously ill, she’d have enough to pay for a room for the night.Then, even by the most optimistic calculations, she’d be broke.She took the plumes of steam puffing out of the hood as a sign it was time to stop traveling for a while and find a job.No worries, no problem, she told herself. The little Wyoming town huddled around the cold blue waters of a lake was as good as anywhere else. Maybe better. It had the openness she needed—all that sky with the snow-dipped peaks of the Tetons rising into it like sober, and somehow aloof, gods.

My preferences don’t take a liking to reading romance, but this bubble of love painted by Roberts is subtle, is calm, and it just glides through like it was meant to be. The spark between the lovers is unmissable! 

Sly comments, under-appreciated symbolism, satisying and engaging and moreover, an overall terrific plot- this one definitely is worth the read!

 Ratings:

Critics : 4 / 5

I’d rate it : 4 / 5

 

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

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Author: Stephen Chbosky

Page Count: 256

Genre: Coming-Of-Age

Book Synopsis: Socially awkward teen Charlie is a wallflower, always watching life from the sidelines, until two charismatic students become his mentors. Free-spirited Sam and her stepbrother Patrick help Charlie discover the joys of friendship, first love, music and more, while a teacher sparks Charlie’s dreams of becoming a writer. However, as his new friends prepare to leave for college, Charlie’s inner sadness threatens to shatter his newfound confidence.

Movie Adaptation: The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

 
 
 You don’t want to miss this one!
An upbeat epistolary, with the writing perfectly synchronized with the introvert  (or more appropriately: emotionally handicapped) protagonist, not finding it relatable is not even a question since we all have been through/are going through the gawky adolescence.
And if you abstain from shedding spotlight on yourself and are comfortable being the observer, you would perfectly understand the “Wallflower”
You see things. You keep quiet about them. And you understand.
Here’s a sneak:

There is a feeling that I had Friday night after the homecoming game that I don’t know if I will ever be able to describe except to say that it is warm. Sam and Patrick drove me to the party that night, and I sat in the middle of Sam’s pickup truck. Sam loves her pickup truck because I think it reminds her of her dad. The feeling I had happened when Sam told Patrick to find a station on the radio. And he kept getting commercials. And commercials. And a really bad song about love that had the word “baby” in it. And then more commercials. And finally he found this really amazing song about this boy, and we all got quiet.

Sam tapped her hand on the steering wheel. Patrick held his hand outside the car and made air waves. And I just sat between them. After the song finished, I said something.

“I feel infinite.”

Chbosky covers the A-Z of being a teenager- First dates, family, drama, new friends, sex, sexual exploration, drugs, loss, young love, suicide, sexual abuse, rape, and you name it!
It’s devastatingly real but somehow I feel Chbosky bit more that he could chew. The depths of each aspect haven’t really been described or hinted upon, save for the child-like outlook of the teenage protagonist.  The novel is incredibly over-rated, yes! It didn’t really inspire or inculcate something in me as I expected it to (Probably because I had high hopes when I picked this book up!).

 

Anyways, I think everyone should read this book, not because everyone else is reading it or has read it; but because it’s a nostalgic experience. And don’t we all like to live more than many lives (Even though it spans only 256 pages)?

You’ll love this one if you like Catcher In the Rye!

 

Reviews:

Critics: 4.2/5

I’d rate it:  3.9/5

Paper Towns

Author: John Green

Page Count: 305

Genre: Coming Of Age

Book synopsis: Quentin Jacobson has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs into his life-dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge-he follows. After their all-nighter ends, and a new day break, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo,  always an enigma,  has now become mystery.  But Q soon learns that there are clues-and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew…

Movie Adaptation: Paper Towns

I personally found this book quite disappointing, which is unlike John Green. 

Its promising, you can feel it’s promising but this 300-something page read turns out to be pretty forced and disengaging. 

The story has no story. It doesn’t manage to mend my broken strings. I’ve tried reading it atleast thrice,  hoping I may find something but every time it came across as bland, and fruitless. 

Yes, Green being the brilliant wroter that he is does give paragraphs of spot-on descriptions,  and manages tp deliver a light-hearted, and funny read. He manages to crack you up yet give u insight using instances like this:

The way I figure it, everyone gets a miracle.  Like I will never be struck by a lightening,  or win a Nobel Prize, or become the dictator of a small nation in the Pacific Islands,  or contract terminal ear cancer,  or spontaneously combust.  But if you consider all the unlikely things together,  at least one of them will probably happen to each of us. I could have seen it rain frogs, I could have stepped foot on Mars. I could have been eaten by a whale. I could have married the queen of England or survived months at sea. But my miracle was different. My miracle was this: out of all the houses in all the sibdivisions in all of Florida, I ended up living next to Margo Roth Spiegelman.

Well, its hilarious but lacking

I wish this one kept my wavering attention. I wish I could connect with it. But I can’t.

It’s an easy read, no doubt,  but if you’re like me, it gets boring and consequently becomes a tedious one.

All I can say is that between the book and the movie,  the movie’s hopeless. You may be better of reading the book. 

Well, this is just my opinion. Let me know what you think! 

Reviews:

Critics: 3.9/5

I’d rate it: 2.7/5

Kafka on the Shore


  • Author: Haruki Murakami
  • Genre: Fantasy, Thriller, Romance
  • No. Of pages: 615

You must’ve heard of those “100 books to read before you die” lists; well this one is definitely one of them!

A book of its very open kind, it’s not bordered by any genre whatsoever. It is a science fiction, a mystery thriller, a fantasy with science and adventure. And oh yes it has romance too! 😛

Considered one of Murakami’s better works, Kafka on the shore takes the reader on an exhilarating ride in a world of bizarre. With unimaginable events happening things do tend to get a little gory, and gory it does get. But the words don’t​ let the interest deter on bit.

Let me show you what I mean:

Sometimes fate is like a small sandstorm that keeps changing directions. You change direction but the sandstorm chases you. You turn again, but the storm adjusts. Over and over you play this out, like some ominous dance with death just before dawn. 

Why? 

Because this storm isn’t something that blew in from far away, something that has nothing to do with you. This storm is you. Something inside of you. So all you can do is give in to it, step right inside the storm, closing your eyes and plugging up your ears so the sand doesn’t get in, and walk through it, step by step. There’s no sun there, no moon, no direction, no sense of time. Just fine white sand swirling up into the sky like pulverized bones. That’s the kind of sandstorm you need to imagine.

But the one major dip in the book is the whopping number of loose ends it gives way to. Too many things are left unanswered, which might make the reader feel unsatisfied even after a read of over 600 pages.

This clash of things good and bad makes one either applaud at how cunning Murakami is as a writer or how selfish he is to have left the reader hanging in curiosity forever!

Selfish or no, Murakami does give us various points to ponder over- human nature, our superstitions​, our prejudices, our very existence. Such food-for-thought easily compensates for all the loose ends one could possibly find.

Ratings:

Critics- 3.9/5

I’d rate it- 4.2/5

Dark Places

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Author: Gillian Flynn

Page Count: 349

Genre: Psychological thriller, Mystery.

Book synopsis: A woman confronts traumatic, childhood memories of the murder of her mother and two sisters when she investigates the possibility that her brother is innocent of the crime.

Movie Adaptation: Dark Places (2015)

Gone Girl led me here, lead me to read this one! And let me tell you, this one doesn’t disappoint!  Flynn spins off this piece with quite ease, thanks to her spot-on narrative style, which she has aced!

This book mostly covers what happened after the big event,  but it occasionally keeps swivelling back to the events before the big one.

It is really nicely written! I really appreciate the way Flynn  has arranged the specks of events, far apart but not so much to seem far fetched or disorderly! You might think you were there all the way or almost there only to be proved wrong!

Wrong people,  wrong perspectives, spurious events and the tedious that is the life and task of a survivor, and the exhaustive investigation,  plus the survivor’s quest for the truth,  for the unclouded version of the truth, is artfully revealed.

Here’s an excerpt:

Libby Day

Now

I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ. Slit me at my belly and it might slide out, meaty and dark, drop on the floor so you could stomp on it. It’s the Day blood. Something’s wrong with it. I was never a good little girl, and I got worse after the murders. Little Orphan Libby grew up sullen and boneless, shuffled around a group of lesser relatives—second cousins and great-aunts and friends of friends—stuck in a series of mobile homes or rotting ranch houses all across Kansas. Me going to school in my dead sisters’ hand-me-downs: Shirts with mustardy armpits. Pants with baggy bottoms, comically loose, held on with a raggedy belt cinched to the farthest hole. In class photos my hair was always crooked—barrettes hanging loosely from strands, as if they were airborne objects caught in the tangles—and I always had bulging pockets under my eyes, drunk-landlady eyes. Maybe a grudging curve of the lips where a smile should be. Maybe.

The novel along with its complex storyline is dark, almost disturbing (Massacre, Satanic cults). Make sure you have something happy to do while reading this or else the darkness will sweep you over. Incredibly demented , it’ll keep you scared, yet riveted to keep going!

You just sort of hang onto the book, hang on to it all the way, step by step until absolute finality finds you.

Finally, Flynn indeed accomplishes her mission to keep you guessing!  Maybe that is infact the motto she lives by!

Do not read this if you like happy novels. This book may probably be the literature version of Black Metal music.

 

Reviews:

Critics: 3.9/5

I’d rate it: 4/5

Evil At Heart

Author: Chelsea Cain

Page Count: 376

Genre: (Fiction) Crime, Thriller

Book synopsis: Since serial killer Gretchen Lowell went on the run,  following Detective Archie Sheridan’s latest near-fatal encounter with her, the city of Portland has descended into Beauty Killer hysteria.

Archie Sheridan has spent the last few months in the city’s psychiatric hospital,  battling with his addiction to painkillers and his strange obsession with the woman who tortured him.

But soon Archie,  along with journalist Susan Ward, finds himself investigating a new spate of killings when bodies start to turn up at local beauty spots, their eyeballs removed. Could this be the work of a copy-cat? Or has Gretchen really returned?  One thing is certain: whoever is behind these brutal murders,  they will do whatever it takes to get Archie…

Prequel: Sweetheart

Sequel: The Night Season



Goriness in all it’s glory!  A book packed with thrills and chills! This is the first book I read from the series and yes, it lives up to it’s title!
Introducing, a  gorgeous female who also happens to be a seriel killer; consequently a prime instance of “Looks can kill! “!

This one is not for the weak-hearted! Explicitly gory and stunning,  this novel practically introduced me to this bone-chilling genre. Cain delivers a twisted story, with the writing ever so plain and straightforward, even while describing the gore!  Moreover, she manages to make the book thoroughly engaging, and even so manages to incorporate humor into it! 

Here’s an excerpt:

The rest stop off I-84 on the Oregon side of the Columbia River was vile, even by rest-stop standards……Eighteen miles from the nearest bathroom, and they end up at a rest stop trashed by hooligans. There was no alternative. Amy put her hands on her hips and stared at her eleven- year- old daughter.”Come on, Dakota,” she said.Dakota’s blue eyes widened. “I’m not going in there,” she said…..”Just squat over the bowl,” Amy said.Dakota bit her lip, leaving a glob of pink lip gloss on her front tooth. “It’s gross,” she said.”Want me to see if the men’s room is any better?” Amy asked.Dakota’s cheeks flushed. “No way,” she said.”You said you had to go,” Amy said……Amy pushed open the door to the last stall. It was cleaner than the rest, or at least less filthy. Toilet paper in the dispenser. No visible human waste. That was a start. “What about this one?” Amy asked her daughter.Dakota took a few tentative steps up behind her and peered into the toilet bowl. “There’s something in there,” she said, pointing limply to the pale pink water in the bowl.Amy didn’t have time to explain to her daughter the effect of beets on pee. “Just flush it,” Amy said. She turned and walked overto the row of white sinks and waited. She heard the toilet flush and felt a little bit of the tension bleed from her shoulders. They would be on the road soon…..”Mom?” Amy heard her daughter ask.What now?Amy turned and saw her daughter standing in the stall, the metal door swung open. Dakota’s face was white, blank, her hands balled into fists. The toilet was overflowing, water spilling over the lid onto the floor, forming a puddle that seemed to almost have a tide. Only there was something in the water. It swirled with veins of red. It looked almost menstrual. And for a second Amy thought, Did Dakota get her period? The bloody water streaked down along the outside of the white toilet bowl, onto the floor, under Dakota’s sneakers, and toward where Amy stood frozen. There was something in the toilet, something that had bobbed to the surface and now sat at rim level. A piece of something raw. Flesh.

You start to pity the good side and envy the villain! A cat and mouse game, wherein Cain leaves it up to you to decide who’s which, or both!

I am yet to read the sequel/prequel but this one seems promising! 

Warning: Possibly nightmarish.

Ratings:

Critics: 4/5

I’d rate it:4/5

The Sunflower Forest

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Author: Torey Haden

Page count: 461

Genre: (Fiction) Tragedy

Book Synopsis:  Seventeen-year-old Lesley is a typical teenage girl: her worries revolve around boys, choosing the right college and bickering with her younger sister Megan. She adores her beautiful, captivating mother Mara, who tells evocative stories of her childhood in Hungary and Germany before the war. However, Mara has one memory of the past that she can never share…

As Lesley begins to uncover the horror of her mother’s secret, their idyllic family life shatters around them, and Lesley realizes that her mother is not the person she thought she knew.

 

Don’t let the synopsis deceive you because it’s not entirely a Coming-Of-Age novel!

Hayden, a usually non-fiction writer has gloriously attempted writing fiction stories into 3 novels, this being one of them, and it is absolutely lovely!

Based on a true story (Hayden has let on that she found inspiration to write this one after coming across an newspaper article on the case of a local woman who had been a part of a Holocaust ), it’s heart-breaking!

The story, well combined with bursts of comedy, tragedy and your daily dose of teenage problems, all to form a devastatingly disturbing novel, especially when you’re halfway through it. It’s sad,really!

The mother-daughter tie has been well captured, ever so smoothly, and every so normally, devoid of melodrama save for the mother’s bouts of eccentricity and eventually mania. It’s painful seeing a daughter hold on to those sane parts of her mother, of her to pretend that everything’s just fine, her mother will come back to her, like she always does!

Here’s how it starts:

In that year what I wanted the most was a boyfriend. I was seventeen and had never had a date. I had the rest:breasts, hair under my arms, my period, the desire. I certainly had the desire.

Once, when I was little and not too informed about the mechanics, my best friend and I had pretended to make love, our legs spread apart scissor-fashion, until we were crotch to crotch, one person’s sneaker under the other person’s nose.My grandmother had caught us at it. She sent Cecily home and spanked me with a wooden mixing spoon and made me sit in the pantry to say Hail Mary. There was no doubt in her mind, she said:  i got such interests from my mother. Perhaps I did. However, even at that tender age, I decided they weren’t such bad interests to have.

 

The writing has already grabbed your interest, hasn’t it? Don’t lie.

Again, it’s not entirely a Coming-Of-Age Novel!

Anyways, I found the book a bit of a difficult read; I mean, its not brain-whacking or anything, I just found it tough to read atleast as I was approaching midway, but then the journey found it’s pace.

I somehow like how Hayden ended the novel (most readers might beg to differ!) because somethings in life need not have a proper stated justification, a reason, a plausible cause for why it happened, or a happy/hopeful conclusion … some things are just inevitable.

 

Ratings:

Critics: 3.5/5

I’d rate it: 3.4/5

 

Angels & Demons

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Author: Dan Brown

Page Count: 616

Genre: (Fiction) Thriller, Mystery, Crime, Conspiracy

Book Synopsis: When Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon discovers the resurgence of an ancient brotherhood known as the Illuminati, he flies to Rome to warn the Vatican, the Illuminati’s most hated enemy. Joining forces with beautiful Italian scientist Vittoria Vetra (Ayelet Zurer), Langdon follows a centuries-old trail of ancient symbols in the hope of preventing the Illuminati’s deadly plot against the Roman Catholic Church from coming to fruition.

Movie Adaptation: Angels and Demons (2009)

You may call it a sequel or a prequel to Brown’s other works; I’d just like to think of it as  one of the series of hefty cases in Robert Langdon’s life,thanks to Dan Brown!

I may be completely wrong when I say this one is not one of Dan Brown’s finest works, nevertheless it doesn’t fail to make you inquisitive! Based on a highly misunderstood secret society, this novel uncovers the depths and takes us back in history to the times of Galileo and Newton, to the atrocity Religion imposed on Science during those times.  (Also see The Da Vinci Code)

Although not a religious book, it has religious elements and covers both Rome and Vatican city. Terror attacks and hostage situations turn the novel  pretty graphic: Brown holds nothing back!

Here’s a peek:

PROLOGUE

Physicist Leonardo Vetra smelled burning flesh, and he knew it was his own. He stared up in terror at the dark figure looming over him. “What do you want!”

La chiave,” the raspy voice replied. “The password.”

“But…I don’t… ”

The intruder pressed down again, grinding the white hot object deeper into Vetra’s chest. There was the hiss of broiling flesh.

Vetra cried out in agony. “There is no password!” He felt himself drifting toward unconsciousness.

The figure glared. “Ne avevo paura. I was afraid of that.”

Vetra fought to keep his senses, but the darkness was closing in. His only solace was in knowing his attacker would never obtain what he had come for. A moment later, however, the figure produced a blade and brought it to Vetra’s face. The blade hovered. Carefully. Surgically.

“For the love of God!” Vetra screamed. But it was too late.

The novel is exhausting, really talky and unnecessarily long. There were times halfway through the book where i couldn’t find the motivation to continue reading; but i managed to finish it as it somehow managed to pick up the long-due  pace. It starts of spectacularly, looses pace, gains pace and looses it again.

There have been substantial amounts of discrepancies and inaccuracies in the facts stated in this novel, so make sure you verify before you believe although there are updated versions of the novel published correcting the same.

Otherwise the novel is totally action-packed and fast-paced (and melodramatic!)  and undoubtedly remains true to it’s genre!

Ratings:

Critics: 3.8/5

I’d rate it:  3.3/5