Sunday, 21 February 2021

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty Book Review!


Hi Readers! I am going to keep this review short, because the book itself was so long that I am scarred to even write a long review. I wanted to read Liane Moriarty’s books for a while now. I watched Big Little Lies before I knew there was a book for it. It’s a crime watching the screen adaptation before reading the book, especially for readers, but it was an honest mistake. Because I loved the series so much, I wanted to read Liane Moriarty’s other books. Nine Perfect Strangers popped up everywhere & then I found out that its TV adaptation starred Nicole Kidman, which was more or less the reason I finally read the book. Be it a crime, but I am just going to say it, I should have just watched the show instead!



Could ten days at a health resort really change you forever?

These nine perfect strangers are about to find out...


Nine people gather at a remote health resort. Some are here to lose weight, some are here to get a reboot on life, some are here for reasons they can’t even admit to themselves. Amidst all of the luxury and pampering, the mindfulness and meditation, they know these ten days might involve some real work. But none of them could imagine just how challenging the next ten days are going to be.

Frances Welty, the formerly best-selling romantic novelist, arrives at Tranquillum House nursing a bad back, a broken heart, and an exquisitely painful paper cut. She’s immediately intrigued by her fellow guests. Most of them don’t look to be in need of a health resort at all. But the person that intrigues her most is the strange and charismatic owner/director of Tranquillum House. Could this person really have the answers Frances didn’t even know she was seeking? Should Frances put aside her doubts and immerse herself in everything Tranquillum House has to offer—or should she run while she still can?

It’s not long before every guest at Tranquillum House is asking exactly the same question.

Combining all of the hallmarks that have made Liane Moriarty's writing a go-to for anyone looking for wickedly smart, page-turning fiction that will make you laugh and gasp, Nine Perfect Strangers once again shows why she is a master of her craft.



To begin with, I thought that Nine Perfect Strangers is a tediously long novel with not much in it. Even though the premise was intriguing, the story did not hold up to its potential, in the least. I gave up on this book a lot of times & almost gave up on it completely once. But then I don’t know what possessed me to finally continue reading & finishing it. It took me TWENTY DAYS to finish this 453 page-novel which belonged to a supposed ‘thriller’ & ‘mystery’ genre. Not only is it long, it is also tedious. I hated reading the parts where the guests were treated as prisoners early on in the book. I cannot even imagine living without my gadgets for 10 days. The story made me uncomfortable and not in a good way.



As you all know, in my 2021 Reading Challenge, I divided up the target of 50 books as per genre. And, after reading Nine Perfect Stranger, I had no idea what genre to put this in. It sure as hell did not feel like a thriller. It was so predictable that it could not be mystery. The slow burn was so slow that you would never even know that there was a burn. It couldn’t be psychological fiction because that requires intensity & they usually leave you mind-boggled at the end of it. So, what the hell did I just read? I will just put it under the made-up name of delusional fiction category.


All along I was hoping for something tragic or random or even remotely weird to happen. But, unfortunately all of it was too predictable & almost too lame. The whole story gives you a miserable reading experience. I hoped for drastic action from some of the characters, but all of it was only an act, which given the crazy predicament seemed too mellow & completely unsatisfactory.



First half of the book goes on in setting the foundation of those NINE guests at the health resort & additionally THREE more characters working for the resort. If this wasn’t enough, there were also all the other related characters of all those characters in mini stories. I did not care for it. All of it was a bit unnecessary. It would have been better if they were five or six strangers to begin with. Anyway, 3 or 4 of them ignored for most of the time. With some stories, introducing many main characters works & in some mini background stories are a treat. But, alas, not in this book.


All I have are bad things to say about this book, so I am sure you must be wondering why I didn’t throw the book out? Well, the only reason is Frances Welty. She’s the only reason I kept reading. Even though I knew exactly how her story was going to go, I liked this charming grandmother-like quality that she had. I saw her as a young Betty White, which was the only way I could imagine her. She’s almost too cute a character for such a story, which is why it made perfect sense.



I usually read a heavy & intense book from my bookshelf which takes some time to read. In parallel I also read light fiction or thrillers which I can basically finish in a few days to maintain the balance. Putting Nine Perfect Strangers on the latter category was an incredibly stupid choice. Not only did it take me forever to finish it, but because of its sheer pathetic story, it shoved me off the cliff into a book slump. For the past few days, I have had no desire to read or even write about reading. I am writing this book review after a solid one week after I finished that awful novel. I have rated Liane Moriarty’s Nine Perfect Strangers at 2/5 stars. If you are planning to read it, just don’t. You have been warned.

Until next time,

Friday, 12 February 2021

My Dark Vanessa - Lolita's Older Wiser Sister


Hi Readers! Somehow, I have taken some time out from my week to write 2 reviews, which is quite a remarkable feat, if you ask me. I read My Dark Vanessa last weekend. I picked it up on Saturday & finished it on Sunday. I love to boast about reading books in 2 days, because that’s another remarkable feat for me. I wonder how fellow book bloggers manage their work + reading + writing! While January was amazing reading-wise, I am pretty much struggling this month. I have only read 1 book so far & it is already almost the mid of the month! Anyway, enough anxieties about reading. Let’s move on to the fun aspects of it – book reviews!



Exploring the psychological dynamics of the relationship between a precocious yet naïve teenage girl and her magnetic and manipulative teacher, a brilliant, all-consuming read that marks the explosive debut of an extraordinary new writer.

2000. Bright, ambitious, and yearning for adulthood, fifteen-year-old Vanessa Wye becomes entangled in an affair with Jacob Strane, her magnetic and guileful forty-two-year-old English teacher.

2017. Amid the rising wave of allegations against powerful men, a reckoning is coming due. Strane has been accused of sexual abuse by a former student, who reaches out to Vanessa, and now Vanessa suddenly finds herself facing an impossible choice: remain silent, firm in the belief that her teenage self willingly engaged in this relationship, or redefine herself and the events of her past. But how can Vanessa reject her first love, the man who fundamentally transformed her and has been a persistent presence in her life? Is it possible that the man she loved as a teenager—and who professed to worship only her—may be far different from what she has always believed?

Alternating between Vanessa’s present and her past, My Dark Vanessa juxtaposes memory and trauma with the breathless excitement of a teenage girl discovering the power her own body can wield. Thought-provoking and impossible to put down, this is a masterful portrayal of troubled adolescence and its repercussions that raises vital questions about agency, consent, complicity, and victimhood. Written with the haunting intimacy of The Girls and the creeping intensity of Room, My Dark Vanessa is an era-defining novel that brilliantly captures and reflects the shifting cultural mores transforming our relationships and society itself.


Well, after reading the Goodreads description, I was quite taken by the book & had put it on the forefront of my TBR list. Now that I read the description again after reading the book, it feels even more powerful. It captures the essence of the entire novel in such a holistic way that writing anything after that almost feels like a crime. But, here I am giving it a try anyway.



When I started reading My Dark Vanessa, I was like why am I putting myself through this torture again? Because the story felt exactly like Lolita - a book I hated the most. In fact, in this novel, there's a constant mention of Lolita as if the author is trying to put that fact in our face reminding us the similarities. For those who loved Lolita, they would have loved this too. But those of us who hated Lolita sure would not have had a great time with this one. Having said that, it was definitely an improvement over Lolita, because it was much more than a supposed love story between a pedophile & a child. It steps up only a little, which is why it doesn’t make it much better, but just a tad.


I have a lot to say about Kate Russell’s writing style in My Dark Vanessa. I know this is her debut novel & she has written it quite well given that fact. And, I promise to not make it too harsh.

For psychological fiction, it holds the reader’s attention amazingly well. As I mentioned earlier, I finished the book in 2 days. This was more because of my sheer will to complete it rather than it being a page-turner. The book is 373 pages long. Honestly though it is quite long. I thought that the book as a whole could have been edited a little better. Given the topic, it’s not easy to keep reading about an inappropriate sexual relationship for 373 pages.

Secondly, I have read a lot of books with sensitive topics as are in this one. But, books like A Little Life are simply at another level. In My Dark Vanessa, even though there are so many sensitive topics about trauma, it does not make the reader connect to the characters. Yes, there are moments where I feel helpless & real misery for Vanessa, but those moments wither away quickly. There is no bonding with these characters, which leads me to the next point.


My Dark Vanessa talks about matters that no one wants to read about or talk about or even acknowledge. This novel has both romanticised an unusual inappropriate “relationship” and also pointed out the felonious side of it. In that sense, it has a lot of dimensions. But, what this book misses completely is a likeability quotient.

Yes, the book is important, but the story is so grave that no one can actually say that, “This book is my favourite!” Firstly, maximum people who read it are not going to be able to relate to anything in it, except for minor unimportant things here & there. Secondly, even though it’s an intense story, it does not feel intense at all as a reader. Usually, the intensity of such stories is what bonds the reader to it, but this book does quite the opposite. This brings to the last thing I noticed. I read about these characters – Vanessa & Strane for 373 pages, yet I did not care for them at all. They were both toxic in their own ways, not to mention that the ambiguity surrounding them had taken control of their entire lives. These and many more factors simply make this book unlikable.


Finally, the most important part of the review. This is what sets this book apart from Lolita. It is not only a delusional love story between a 15-year-old girl student & her 42-year old teacher. It talks about more than that. It talks about victimhood in a way I had not read before. It talks about the typical white male supremacy in the US. It talks about the #MeToo movement, which is the crux of the story, I’d say. It talks about the impact of social media & the latest ‘cancel culture’ which can drive people to suicide. It talks of mental health in a much wider angle. It talks about the human nature in its most messed up, chaotic & intense form. This is what sets it apart from Lolita & is also the reason why I gave 2 extra stars to the book.


I think ‘My Dark Vanessa’ was an upgrade from Lolita. It didn’t only focus on the romance & love story of an illicit relationship. It also showed us the after-effects of it, which could not have been written more accurately, especially Vanessa’s life after college & Strane’s life after he was outed by other young girl students. It was difficult to read the romantic relationship for obvious reasons. And, it was difficult to read the after math of it for the right reasons too, because the portrayal was purely a chaos of human emotions. My Dark Vanessa has many dimensions to it with a lot to say, which is why I liked the novel in those areas. But, there are also so many things about the novel which are bland, dreary & unempathetic. Given the positives & negatives of the novel, I have rated it at 3/5 stars. I am curious to know what you thought of the book. Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,

Tuesday, 9 February 2021

The Thursday Murder Club Book Review!

Hi Readers! It has been a crazy couple of weeks. Most of my time from Monday to Friday goes either in working or sleeping. And, on weekends, I am doing this thing where I read an entire book start to finish & then again comes the week & so on. This is why, while I am getting 2 days to read, I am not getting any time to write book reviews. It’s just jumping from one book to the next. And to be honest, I cannot go back and write the review for a book I read before 2 books!

Hush. I just wanted to vent all of that. Well, today is a Monday & I am writing this review at 11:50 PM when I usually relax with reruns of Modern Family. So, my list of writing book reviews piled up to a total of 3, which is why it was high time to start somewhere, so here I am, with the book review of The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman!



Four septuagenarians with a few tricks up their sleeves

A female cop with her first big case

A brutal murder

Welcome to…

The Thursday Murder Club


In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet weekly in the Jigsaw Room to discuss unsolved crimes; together they call themselves The Thursday Murder Club. Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron might be pushing eighty but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves.

When a local developer is found dead with a mysterious photograph left next to the body, the Thursday Murder Club suddenly find themselves in the middle of their first live case. As the bodies begin to pile up, can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer, before it’s too late?



This novel is full of characters, in the sense that it has a lot of characters but also in the sense that they are real characters. Our Thursday Murder Club includes Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim & Ron. Each of them has their unique traits. While Elizabeth is a fierce lady who gets things done bypassing the right way, Joyce is someone who gets things done in her own way by baking lemon meringues. Ibrahim was a psychiatrist and it shows, while Ron is probably the most no-nonsense guy.

We also have another set of people solving the crime, officially, the police officers. There’s PC Donna De Freitas, who really grew on me. She started off as mousy but became her own person bossing around her own boss in the later pages. Her boss DCI Chris Hudson is shown as a single slog of a human with just that extra weight & extra clumsiness & extra mess in his life.

We have few more characters in the retirement village of Coopers Chase. The owner & developer of the place is Ian Ventham, whose portrayal is spot on. He is greedy, power & money-hungry & will not stop at anything to get a little more. There are two contractors Tony Curran & Bogdan, both of whom polar opposites. We also have a few recurring characters, like the priest, Joyce’s daughter Joanna, Joyce’s love interest, Elizabeth’s husband Stephen, original co-founder of the Club Paige & just so many other retirees of the village.

Because there are so many characters, it is impossible to guess the murderer. Also, the characters are well-positioned so as to not confuse the reader by throwing 15 names in the span of a page. I loved reading the story mainly because of all the multitude of characters.



As if I hadn’t mentioned it before, I simply loved the characters in this novel. They are quirky, individualistic, fun & so out of the box for elders. Very few novels can put in these many characters and not make it confusing for the readers. The amazing part is that there are different kinds of people in different groups, all having different sets of attributes, which gels up the story really well.



The novel is divided in two parts; one is where the current story is being told & the other is also the current story but from Joyce’s point of view where she writes in her diary. It’s really interesting to read both the aspects of writing. The first part kept the mystery & thrill alive in the most fun way & Joyce’s diary was just so incredibly human that it was reflective to read that. The little things that old people did like not knowing the slang millennials use these days & use their innocence as a tactic to get what they wanted. Because of such relatable & potentially relatable story lines, it was all the more engaging to read.



In mystery & thriller novels, I always determine how good it is based on if I am able to predict things, such as the murderer or other obvious plot lines. In this novel, I wasn’t able to do that & I am pretty sure no one can. There is just so much going on that there’s no telling who is the murderer. And the more fun part is that you don’t even sweat over guessing about the murderer because you are just enjoying reading it that much. So, while I loved the unpredictability of the story as a whole, I also loved the unpredictability of some individual min-stories within the novel.



Reading this book reminded me of Fredrik Backman’s ‘Anxious People’. It was a thriller but with a lot of fun in it & also some life lessons along the way. I think this is more of a modern concept to write a fun thriller removing all the seriousness & goriness from it. As much as I love the traditional crime drama, I am also completely loving this fun version of thrillers.

I think to play this way with the genre, it takes real talent on the author’s part. It is no wonder that Richard Osman & Fredrik Backman were able to pull it off. While I haven’t really seen Richard Osman as a TV show host or such, I have heard about his brilliance, wit & humour through words.


To sum it up, I loved this book. It was a casual & fun read on an otherwise boring week. It definitely lifted my mood & spirits while reading the book & also a few days after. If you are looking for a light read, you should definitely pick The Thursday Murder Club. I have rated it at 4/5 stars on Goodreads!


Until next time,

Tuesday, 2 February 2021

January Reads!


Hi Readers! January sure went by in a jiffy. I would not have thought it possible, but I read 7 Books in January!! Given the lack of time for anything, I am quite surprised at this. I would have imagined completing 3 or 4 books, but this is a remarkable feat. Yes, I just realized how much I am bragging, so instead let’s get down to the books, shall we?

Usually while writing round-up posts, I separate the books into 3 categories: the best, the average & the worst. But, that won’t work in this case, because I don’t want to separate the books in a series & also there are not really any worse books this time around. Shocking, I know! Anyway, have a look!



I have been wanting to read Love & Gelato for the better part of the last year & when I found out there are 2 more books in the series with similar themes, I had to read it. That finally made me take the leap. I was not disappointed.

Love & Gelato is set in Italy where Lina is sent off to live with her father who she has known for barely 2 months. After her mother’s death, Lina is forced by her grandmother to go to Italy & meet her father. It is truly amazing to read about Lina’s adventures in Italy; new friends, new love life, new father, new everything! Yes, it was more of a casual read, but that’s what I wanted to read to start off the year. That’s why ignored all the lame aspects & just tried to enjoy it. I have rated Love & Gelato at 3/5 stars on Goodreads!



I started reading ‘Love & Luck’ on the same day I had finished reading ‘Love & Gelato’. I hadn’t expected anything great, but somehow this book was even better than the first one! In this book, the protagonist is Lina’s friend Addie. Love & Luck is based in Ireland where we see Addie & her brother Ian wandering all the iconic places. Both had separate reasons to wander in Ireland, but somehow on the journey their bond becomes stronger.

I loved this book for 2 reasons; firstly, I love Ireland & secondly it had more fun aspects like following a band’s early years & being a blogger. In short, there was more story in this book than the earlier one. I have rated Love & Luck at 4/5 stars on Goodreads!



Love & Olives is a stand-alone book with no references to the earlier two books. It is set in Santorini where Liv is shipped off to by her mother so that she could spend time with her estranged father in the discovery of the lost city of Atlantis.

The Goodreads blurb is commendable. It really gave me high hopes about this book, but unfortunately, I couldn’t stand this book. I have always loved those blue & white photos of Santorini, which is why I thought it was amazing that this book had that. But, the story was a big letdown. I couldn’t even finish it. I lost my patience after reading about 30% of it & it was honestly too predictable. Another reason for me not liking it was because it had no connection to my likes or hobbies. I have rated Love & Olives at 2/5 stars on Goodreads.


It was about time I read Firefly Lane, because I love Kristin Hannah & also its series adaptation is out tomorrow! I have written a full review of this which you can check out here! I have rated Firefly Lane at 4/5 stars on Goodreads.



The Song of Achilles is the best book that I read this month / this year! I had heard amazing things about it for as long as I can remember & I was not disappointed.

I have written a full review of this as well which you can check out here! I have rated Firefly Lane at 4.5/5 stars on Goodreads.



This was an impulse read before nighttime. It has comics about readers & writers which was way too relatable & hilarious. I read it slowly so that I could have at least some humour during the day & it was always amazing! All book nerds out there must read this! I have rated it at 3.5/5 stars on Goodreads.



Finally, the book I finished in 2 days. All the reviews that I had read for The Thursday Murder Club were either 5-star worthy or 1-star worthy. This is why I knew I had to read it for myself. This book is hands-down the funniest crime novel I have ever read. Yes, you read that right.

Thursday Murder Club is basically a 4-member Club with members over 70 years of age, solving real crimes & what not. Because the premise was so out-of-the-world hilarious, I didn’t mind it. It gelled the story really well. For a crime novel, it was not at all predictable, but also it is written in such a manner that you wouldn’t be after guessing who the murderer is. Rather, you would just enjoy reading it without any other motives. If I get some time during the week, I will definitely write a full review on it. Till then, I have rated The Thursday Murder Club at 4/5 stars on Goodreads!


That is all, folks!

Until next time,

Tuesday, 26 January 2021

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller Book Review!

Hi Readers! I sure as hell did not think I would be back so soon with another review, but what can I say? Madeline Miller has become one of my favourite authors! You all already know how much I enjoyed reading Circe & this weekend I finally read The Song of Achilles. And, OH MY GOD! No matter what I would have read about the book, nothing could possibly live up to the expectations of how truly amazing it is. Madeline Miller has made me love Mythological Fiction & I will always look forward to reading all the books she writes.


Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. By all rights their paths should never cross, but Achilles takes the shamed prince as his friend, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine their bond blossoms into something deeper - despite the displeasure of Achilles' mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess. But then word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus journeys with Achilles to Troy, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.

Profoundly moving and breathtakingly original, this rendering of the epic Trojan War is a dazzling feat of the imagination, a devastating love story, and an almighty battle between gods and kings, peace and glory, immortal fame and the human heart.


We have our protagonist – Patroclus. You cannot help but connect with him & picture  him as your friend. Starting from worrying about fitting in with others to dedicating himself to his love to fighting a war for his love, every single thing Patroclus has done in this book, is something we all have, in a more mortal or human sense. He is the underdog who is okay with being so, as long as he is with Achilles. He is someone who knows how to understand people in a deep sense. I loved his character throughout the novel. Usually, I would have found Patroclus & Achilles’ relationship to be a bit co-dependent, but I am not going there. I am not the one to fall for love stories, but oh this one got me right in the heart, which is why this post is entirely from my heart as well!

Oh, Achilles, what can I say about him? I don’t know why but I always pictured Achilles as Timothée Chalamet. From his boyhood, Achilles always comes off as the man who knows how strong & great he is. Undoubtedly, he has amazing skill in fighting. There’s always a charm & confidence in everything that he does, at least that’s how I was able to picture it. Given his stature, he always stood up for Patroclus, first as a friend & later on as a lover.

While reading this story, I felt utterly charmed by Achilles & felt like a friend of Patroclus’s. It’s like I was the person Patroclus talked about Achilles to & then we both had dreamy talks about him. The mixture of romance with war always leaves me heavy hearted. This time it also left me completely speechless.



I am glad that I read Circe before I read The Song of Achilles, because this one is way superior to it. Similar to Circe’s story writing, this novel also has a fast-paced rhythm to it, which only makes it all the more interesting. Madeline Miller’s writing is so lyrical & poetic during the romance aspects of the story; thundering & inspiring during the action aspects of the story; and it is miraculous throughout. Because of these wondrous combinations, the story comes alive in the reader’s mind making it so personal that all you can do is go with the flow & live it with all the characters. Very few times I must have felt the emotions that I felt when I read The Song of Achilles. And, all of the credit goes to the impeccable writing style.


I must say that I haven’t read a book with so many factions to it. Historical fiction itself has sub-sub genres to it, at times, but 4 factions in one book is downright an achievement. I love reading Historical Fiction, as you all know. But, I am not a fan of Mythological fiction or romance or action genres. But, when all these came together, the result was something out of this world.

As much as I enjoyed reading those early flirtatious moments between Achilles & Patroclus, I also enjoyed reading about how everyone fought against the Trojans. As much as I loved reading about the times on Mount Pelion, I enjoyed reading Achilles’ stay at Scyros. There was literally never a dull moment. It’s one adventure after the other and it is an eventful journey till the end.


The brilliance of this novel is such that the sentences that made you laugh earlier become the death of you later. Those of who have read the novel, know exactly what I am talking about. You read through the romance from their boyish crushes growing into young men training in war & medicine. You see them supporting each other through all of that character development. We see Patroclus becoming more mature and more in touch with himself. We also see Achilles becoming more skilled but also more in touch to the prophecy leading to his proud ego.

While reading the story, I always thought that Patroclus will somehow play an indirect part in Achilles’ death & I was incredibly sad when I read about it eventually. Even if I knew it was coming, it was such a gut-wrenching pain while actually reading through the ending. Nevertheless, the poignance in it made the story all the more devastatingly beautiful.

I have rated Madeline Miller’s ‘The Song of Achilles’ at 4.5/5 stars on Goodreads. If you haven’t read it yet, you must!

Until next time,

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