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Blurb (as on Goodreads):

Dexter meets Mr. and Mrs. Smith in this wildly compulsive debut thriller about a couple whose fifteen-year marriage has finally gotten too interesting…

Our love story is simple. I met a gorgeous woman. We fell in love. We had kids. We moved to the suburbs. We told each other our biggest dreams and our darkest secrets. And then we got bored.

We look like a normal couple. We’re your neighbors, the parents of your kid’s friend, the acquaintances you keep meaning to get dinner with.

We all have secrets to keeping a marriage alive.

Ours just happens to be getting away with murder.

Here is a story where you get to meet the ideal family. A loving and hardworking father, a caring mother and two kids who are the best versions of themselves. But the wife is the one who steals the show. Millicent- a responsible wife who works hard for her family, is a brilliant cook, is good at keeping her children humble, loves her husband beyond words and gets away with murders.

There are a few things I absolutely enjoyed. The authors’ way of playing with the reader’s psychology by portraying these flawed yet rational characters and their circumstances is astounding. I enjoyed reading all the details about them and knowing them as a family. Obviously, I was wrong about them or maybe had a slight inclination towards what was to happen, but I enjoyed the revelation phase and the way each character played out.

The plot had its problems and so did the writing, which was monotonous and slow in most places. The conclusion was pretty good and a bit different from what I had expected. Overall, the book surprised me is a decent way and most of it was definitely engrossing.

Purchase Links:                    |Amazon Kindle|Amazon Paperback|

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Blurb (as on Goodreads):

A weaver is initiated into the ancient art of bringing a universe into existence. A demon hunter encounters an unlikely opponent. Four goddesses engage in a cosmic brawl. A graphic designer duels with a dark secret involving a mysterious tattoo. A defiant chudail makes a shocking announcement at a kitty party. A puppet seeking adventure discovers who she really is. A young woman’s resolute choice leads her to haunt Death across millennia. . .

A compelling collection of stories that speak of love, rage, rebellion, choices and chances, Magical Women brings together some of the strongest female voices in contemporary Indian writing. Combining astounding imagination with superlative craft, these tales will intrigue and delight readers in equal measure.

Featuring the works of: * Asma Kazi * Kiran Manral * Krishna Udayasankar * Nikita Deshpande * Ruchika Roy * Samhita Arni * Sejal Mehta * Shreya Ila Anasuya * Shveta Thakrar * Shweta Taneja * Sujatha S.V. * Sukanya Venkatraghavan * Tashan Mehta * Trisha Das

‘Magical Women’ is a collection of 14 women-centric short stories that deals with issues such as sexual abuse, patriarchy, Global Warming, love, and loneliness. It’s quite diverse and contains strong opinionated and rational voices. The stories are a mix of fantasy, contemporary literature, mythology, and science fiction.

Since each story has been contributed by a different author, the writing style might be difficult to follow. But most of these stories are imaginative and intricate retellings that are engrossing and definitive. The Sci-fi ones didn’t work for me because that genre is still alien to me, but the rest of the collection was remarkable.

My favorite from this collection are:

  • Rulebook for Creating a Universe by Tashan Mehta: One child’s appeal to bring change and maintain balance goes unheard when men decide that there is only one way to life-their way.
  • Earth and Evolution walk into a Bar by Sejal Mehta: An intense conversation between Earth and Evolution
  • Tridevi Turbulence by Trisha Das: Based on the pollution of the river Ganges and its disappearance due to Global Warming
  • The Carnival at the Edge of the World by Shveta Thakrar: A retelling of ‘Nala and Damayanti’
  • The Rakshasi’s Rose Garden by Sukanya Venkatraghavan: A witch’s approach to molesters and abusers
  • The Girl who Haunted Death by Nikita Deshpande: A retelling of Savitri and her encounter with Death.

This collection is perfect if you are looking for something that isn’t traditional storytelling but equally fun and eye-opening.

Purchase Links:                    |Amazon Kindle|Amazon Paperback|

*Thank you Hachette India for a copy of the book. All opinions are my own*

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Blurb (as on Goodreads):

A bold, wry, and intimate graphic memoir about American identity, interracial families, and the realities that divide us, from the acclaimed author of The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing.

“By turns hilarious and heart-rending, it’s exactly the book America needs at this moment.”—Celeste Ng

“Who taught Michael Jackson to dance?”
“Is that how people really walk on the moon?”
“Is it bad to be brown?”
“Are white people afraid of brown people?”

Like many six-year-olds, Mira Jacob’s half-Jewish, half-Indian son, Z, has questions about everything. At first they are innocuous enough, but as tensions from the 2016 election spread from the media into his own family, they become much, much more complicated. Trying to answer him honestly, Mira has to think back to where she’s gotten her own answers: her most formative conversations about race, color, sexuality, and, of course, love.

“How brown is too brown?”
“Can Indians be racist?”
“What does real love between really different people look like?”

Written with humor and vulnerability, this deeply relatable graphic memoir is a love letter to the art of conversation—and to the hope that hovers in our most difficult questions.

A memoir that is written in the form of comic strips is something I didn’t know I needed. Mira Jacob’s memoir is a conversation mostly between her son and her, where he asks questions on Racism-why people don’t like Trump and if his father who is white, scared of him because he is brown.
While we see a mother’s struggle to give her child all the right and honest answers, we also see why it’s so important for her to tell her child everything true and not wrap it up in something fancy.

Mira’s childhood has been full of instances where she was scorned for being brown. Even in India(her hometown), people had problems with her being ‘too dark’. This blatant racism has affected every phase of her life. We see conversations between friends, her family, and the world and those are some deep and emotional talks.
‘Good Talk’ brings out a lot of emotions, especially because most of these things are wrong. There’s no justification for these acts of violence and some people just have to live through it.

I am choosing not to rate this book because I don’t think it’s fair to rate a memoir. Especially because we need to give the author the choice to write her story in her own way. There is no question of inadequacy or expectations there.

Purchase Links:                 |Amazon Kindle|Amazon Hardcover|

*Thank you Bloomsbury India for the copy. All opinions are my own*

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Blurb (as on Goodreads):

The history books say I died.

They don’t know the half of it.

Anastasia “Nastya” Romanov was given a single mission: to smuggle an ancient spell into her suitcase on her way to exile in Siberia. It might be her family’s only salvation. But the leader of the Bolshevik army is after them . . . and he’s hunted Romanov before.

Nastya’s only chances of survival are to either release the spell, and deal with the consequences, or enlist help from Zash, the handsome soldier who doesn’t act like the average Bolshevik. Nastya’s never dabbled in magic before, but it doesn’t frighten her as much as her growing attraction for Zash. She likes him. She thinks he might even like her . . .

That is, until she’s on one side of a firing squad . . . and he’s on the other.

Anastasia Romanova is supposed to be dead. Her entire family was shot without a trial by the Bolsheviks, and that is an important historical event in Russia. But behind these multiple murders lies a world of treachery, misunderstanding and countless manipulations.

Anastasia or Nastya is a brave and mischievous girl. When her family is put to exile, she shows immense strength, love, and dedication towards her family and later succumbs to death by shooting. But what is Nastya lived long enough to avenge her family? and what if certain forbidden magic was her companion?

“No amount of age, pride, or maturity could stop me from loving my papa with the heart of a little girl.”

‘Romanov’ is a brilliant and refreshing take on this popular historic event. The author combines some vulnerable characters, unsettling scenarios and just the right amount of magic and companionship. I fell in love with this family who was considered traitors, because they are so kind, compassionate and dedicated to serving Russia.

Anastasia’s bond with her family and her siblings and her love for Zash have been explored with perfection, thereby giving us characters that will stay with us long after the book is over.

I might have been slightly disappointed by the ending, but that doesn’t change the fact that the writing was quite exceptional. It is necessarily a character-driven plot and a great one at that.

Purchase Links:                                 |Amazon Kindle|

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Blurb (as on Goodreads):

The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children. 

If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company. 

And there are no strangers in the town of Near.

These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life.

But when an actual stranger-a boy who seems to fade like smoke-appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true.

The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. Still, he insists on helping Lexi search for them. Something tells her she can trust him.

As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know-about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.

Part fairy tale, part love story, Victoria Schwab’s debut novel is entirely original yet achingly familiar: a song you heard long ago, a whisper carried by the wind, and a dream you won’t soon forget.

My first Schwab and I am blown away by the luscious and whimsical images she can conjure with simple, everyday words.

When a stranger appears in Town, kids start disappearing. For a town haunted by stories of the near witch, these circumstances are not exactly friendly. The town council looks for someone to blame and they suspect this stranger, especially when he is being sheltered by two old witches- Magda and Dreska. But Lexi is convinced that the stranger has nothing to do with these disappearances. Moreover, every night she sets out to investigate if any traces have been left from these disappearances or not.

As Lexi finds herself attracted toward this young and enigmatic stranges, the set on a journey to free these children and set things right. And all along they have only one suspect in mind- The Near Witch, who dies hundreds of years ago but her magic is all over the moor and her songs are being scattered throughout the village.

‘Near Witch’ is predictable because there is very little one can do with such a cliche at hand. But Schwab’s writing is what stands out. She has a knack for wild imaginations, perplexing and magical settings and the perfect characters (especially the antagonists). ‘Near Witch’ is equal parts thrilling and evocative.

Purchase Links:                                 |Amazon Kindle|

*Thank you Bloomsbury India for the copy. All opinions are my own*
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Blurb (as on Goodreads):

Tyrants cut out hearts. Rulers sacrifice their own.

Princess Hesina of Yan has always been eager to shirk the responsibilities of the crown, but when her beloved father is murdered, she’s thrust into power, suddenly the queen of an unstable kingdom. Determined to find her father’s killer, Hesina does something desperate: she engages the aid of a soothsayer—a treasonous act, punishable by death… because in Yan, magic was outlawed centuries ago.

Using the information illicitly provided by the sooth, and uncertain if she can trust even her family, Hesina turns to Akira—a brilliant investigator who’s also a convicted criminal with secrets of his own. With the future of her kingdom at stake, can Hesina find justice for her father? Or will the cost be too high?

In this shimmering Chinese-inspired fantasy, debut author Joan He introduces a determined and vulnerable young heroine struggling to do right in a world brimming with deception.

Joan He’s take on this Chinese-inspired fantasy failed to impress me. Princess Hesina is about to take the throne of Yan, a title that came with a price. In this case, the untimely death of her father, which might look like a natural death to all but not to Hesina. As Hesina tries to find evidence of foul play, she confronts a soothsayer, an offense that is considered high treason, she also faces the dilemma of who in the court is trustworthy and who isn’t. And that is how she meets Akira, a robber and Hesina’s last chance at getting justice for her father.

The story as such is full of plot holes and reads like a hasty, poorly narrated fiction novel. The character sketches are a hit or miss. While a few of them are well written, most are just boring, unpredictable and irrational. Most of the plot feels abrupt and written in haste, except the final chapters, which brings back the usual elements of a political conspiracy.

The second half of the story definitely left an impression on me and made me believe that the author could have given more time for the characters to grow, especially Hesina and Akira, who appear uncertain and mysterious most of the time. A plot oriented take that could have been written better.

With half-baked characters, sloppy writing and a plot without purpose, ‘Descendant of the Crane’ goes to my ‘disappointed’ basket.

Purchase Links:                                 |Amazon Kindle|

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Blurb (as on Goodreads):

An instant New York Times Best Seller! In a lush, contemporary fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast, Brigid Kemmerer gives readers another compulsively readable romance perfect for fans of Marissa Meyer.

Fall in love, break the curse. 

It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper Lacy. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom. 

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.

Let’s start with the antagonist here, shall we? Lilith might not be present at all times throughout the story but she does leave a lasting impression. Lilith’s reason for casting the curse runs deeper than the standard cause that we saw in ‘The Beauty and the Beast’ and while she is a tormentor, I see reason in her actions.

“Are you prepared to die, Grey?” I demand. “Because that is all that exists at the end of this path. I am sure of it. This was never a curse to be broken. This is a death sentence. The true curse has been the thought that we might find escape.”

Harper, a common girl from DC, accidentally (and very heroicly) finds herself in Emberfall and meets the crown prince-Rhen and his commander Grey. Rhen is cursed and so is the castle and Rhen’s goal is to make Harper fall in love with him. But Harper- resilient and determined as she keeps trying to escape.

“This early in the season, the other girls would sit by the hearth and gaze at me over crystal goblets, while I’d pour wine and tell stories with just enough devilishness to make them blush. If I put a crystal goblet in this one’s hand, she’d likely smash it and use the shards to cut me.”

A retelling that is supported by immaculate and compelling writing is definitely a winner for me. ‘A Curse so Dark and Lonely’ might borrow its plot from ‘The Beauty and the Beast’ but the author has brought a lot of novelty to the otherwise classic story. The imageries created by the author are beautiful and it literally takes you from reality to a parallel world where things are either curser or extremely dangerous. Harper and Rhen have this chemistry which runs deeper than a standard story of love.

“Failure isn’t absolute, just because you couldn’t save everyone doesn’t mean you didn’t save anyone.”

While the story could have been easily wrapped up in this book, we see that the author isn’t finished and if she has more to say, I would like to read it. I wonder what the sequel holds, but I am hoping to see the same refreshing writing and an action-packed plot.

Purchase Links:                                 |Amazon Kindle|

*Thank you Bloomsbury India for the copy. All opinions are my own*

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Blurb (as on Goodreads):

The official novelization to the highly anticipated movie, Alita: Battle Angel. A young woman with no memory of her past uncovers her incredible destiny in Alita, a groundbreaking new experience from visionary filmmakers James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez.

From visionary filmmakers James Cameron (Avatar) and Robert Rodriguez (Sin City), comes Alita: Battle Angel, an epic adventure of hope and empowerment.

When Alita (Rosa Salazar) awakens with no memory of who she is in a future world she does not recognize, she is taken in by Ido (Christoph Waltz), a compassionate doctor who realizes that somewhere in this abandoned cyborg shell is the heart and soul of a young woman with an extraordinary past. As Alita learns to navigate her new life and the treacherous streets of Iron City, Ido tries to shield her from her mysterious history while her street-smart new friend Hugo (Keean Johnson) offers instead to help trigger her memories.

But it is only when the deadly and corrupt forces that run the city come after Alita that she discovers a clue to her past – she has unique fighting abilities that those in power will stop at nothing to control. If she can stay out of their grasp, she could be the key to saving her friends, her family and the world she’s grown to love.

Sci-Fi is way out of my comfort zone, but when I came across this novelization I decided to give it a go, especially because it sounded like a light and fast-paced sci-fi but boy! I was wrong.

Alita is a real deal. A cyborg who doesn’t remember much about her past life is brought back by a Dr. Ido. But memories are tricky things. As Alitsymbles upon objects from her past, she realizes that her past self was a killer and this is what sows the seed of self-discovery in her heart. But the road to knowledge is dangerous and Alita needs to make so very definitive and risky decisions.

This book has a lot of advanced technology elements and hence, I let the author guide me through the book. The characterizations (if you could call it that) helped me understand the characters and their motives and I was impressed with Alita’s nature. The plot was predictable, as it is with most super-heroish stories. There were subtle illustrations throughout the book which I truly admired.

Overall, this novelization of a female cyborg trying to dig into her past in a post-apocalyptic setup is a fast-paced, entertaining and easy going thriller, that is definitely a one time read.

Purchase Links:                                 |Amazon Paperback|

*Thank you Bloomsbury India for the copy. All opinions are my own*

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Blurb (as on Goodreads):

Someone is trying to destroy the evidence of history’s greatest crimes.

Academics and Holocaust survivors dead in mysterious circumstances. Museums and libraries burning. Digital records and irreplaceable proofs lost forever.

Former White House operative Maggie Costello has sworn off politics. But when the Governor of Virginia seeks her help to stop the lethal spiral of killings, she knows that this is bigger than any political game.

As Black Lives Matter protestors clash with slavery deniers, America is on a knife-edge and time is running out. This deadly conspiracy could ignite a new Civil War – but who stands to gain most from the chaos?

Book 4 of the Maggie Costello series presents to us a murdered historian and a tragic fire that destroys billions of manuscripts containing evidence of some key events that shaped our history and documents that mentioned the greatest of crimes committed throughout history. Now, the seriousness of the situation can be found throughout the book through dialogues, unless you already know what a scary situation it is.

Maggie Costello, a former White House operative is called into investigating this murder and throw some light into what could be the greatest loss in the history of documentation. This was my first introduction to Costello and  I truly admired her character- adamant, smart and rational

Sam Bourne is one of those authors who know how to surprise you even when all the facts are right in front of you. This murder and conspiracy mystery was no less.

What I loved most about it is that it’s fast-paced without being messy or confusing. The narration shapes the characters, the locations and the plot in a manner that evokes suspicion and thrill. This political thriller has a heady mix of thrills and chills and that’s what makes it entertaining and a must read.

Purchase Links:                   |Amazon Paperback|Amazon Kindle|

*Thank you, Hachette, for the copy. All opinions are my own*

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Blurb (as on Goodreads):

An Irish Times Book of the Year 2019

Escaping her failing marriage, Grace has returned to Pondicherry to cremate her mother. Once there, she finds herself heir to an inheritance she could not have expected – a property on the beaches of Madras, and a sister she never knew she had: Lucia, who was born with Downs Syndrome and has spent her life in a residential facility.

Grace sets up a new and precarious life along the coast of Madras, with Lucia, the village housekeeper Mallika, the drily witty Auntie Kavitha and an ever-multiplying litter of puppies. But Grace’s attempts to play house prove first a struggle, then a strain, as she discovers the chaos, tenderness, fury and bewilderment of life with Lucia.

Luminous, funny, surprising and heartbreaking, Small Days and Nights is the story of a woman caught in a moment of transformation, and the sacrifices we make to forge lives that have meaning.

Grace’s story isn’t extraordinary but it’s definitely thought-provoking. After a failed marriage and the death of her Mother, Grace returns to India with only one goal- to meet Lucia, her sister who was probably the most well-kept secret of her family. Lucia suffers from Down’s Syndrome, a conditions that make her dependant on others for day to day activities.

When’s Grace’s father refused to raise Lucia with the notion that they were inefficient in caring for a differently abled child, her parents decided to keep her hidden from most of the world, in an institution far away. As Grace makes up her mind for this new responsibility, she also inherits a house near the beach in Madras from her mother, which later becomes her home with Lucia.

Grace had a normal childhood, but she always craved from things different from what she was offered. She didn’t have a lot of friends and grew up into someone detached from familial ties. She married her childhood sweetheart, but their needs in life turned out to be different.

As Grace tries to build a life in India, she is subjected to random speculations about her whereabouts and financial state and is judged repeatedly for the choices she makes. Over time, she gets close to a stray dog but that falls apart because of certain vengeful villagers. Grace constantly suffers from the feeling of being incomplete. She is looking for something, maybe closure or love or just companionship.

“Small Days and Nights’ is the story of survival, of finding one’s place and accepting one’s family that has been divided through secrets, mistrust, and misunderstandings. But more than that, it brings to us everything that’s wrong with modern India. It’s all about change- both as an Individual and as a society.

Purchase Links:                                 |Amazon Paperback|

*Thank you Bloomsbury India for the copy. All opinions are my own*

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