Not Everything I Hoped It'd Be // REVIEW: Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

Title: Leah On The Offbeat (Creekwood #2)
Author: Becky Albertalli
Publication Date: April 30th 2018
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Part of a Series?: Yes, Book 2/2 of the Creekwood Duology
I Got A Copy Through: Penguin India (THANK YOU!)
Buy Links: Amazon IN || Barnes and Noble || Wordery || Foyles || Waterstones || WHSmith || Books A Million || Chapters Indigo || Google Books
Blurb Description: When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually right on the beat - but real life is a little harder to manage. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And she hasn't mustered the courage to tell her friends she's bisexual, not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.
So Leah really doesn't know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high and it's hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting - especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended ...
Becky Albertalli returns to the world of her acclaimed debut novel, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, in this warm and humorous story of first love and senior-year angst. 
THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR Love, Simon and Leah on the Offbeat.

I expected the WORLD from this book. I LOVED the previous Becky Albertalli book I read – The Upside of Unrequited and Love, Simon was ONLY THE MOST ADORABLE THING ON THE PLANET.

I was SO EXCITED for Leah’s story from the MINUTE I read the announcement – a fat bi girl in the Simonverse, who is also a drummer and is trying to find herself? I was already going to read this book after the first four words.

Unfortunately, I didn’t end up liking Leah as much as I thought I would – both the book and the character herself. I hated that she was the burn EVERYTHING to the ground type of girl when things got even a little hard and I honestly struggled to connect with her and her story. Let me explain more:

THINGS I REALLY LIKED:

1.       I’ve loved Bram, Simon, Abby, Nick and Leah from the very beginning. When I first started reading the book, I LOVED that we got to see the whole group back together again, especially with Bram and Simon an ACTUAL couple this time. It was all kinds of sickeningly adorable.


2.       I actually also really liked Garrett in this book. He was kind of cute, in an unassuming way. He apologized when he was insensitive and the scene where he messed up the prom dinner reservations was probably my FAVOURITE MOMENT IN THE BOOK AND I WAS ACTUALLY SMILING AND SHAKING MY HEAD IN AN ‘HE SO ADORABLE FRUSTRATING’ KIND OF WAY.

3.       I ALSO LOVED that Becky Albertalli touched upon that bittersweet feeling all high schoolers go through at the end of senior year. It’s probably what I remember thinking about and feeling the most at that time and I really liked that we were shown how each member of the group dealt with it differently.

THINGS I DID NOT LIKE:
Image result for leah on the offbeat
1.       Leah: As excited as I was to meet the group again, I was mostly excited about the fact that this was LEAH’S book and that a FAT BI GIRL was getting a voice. Which is why is pains me to say that Leah herself was the thing I liked least about Leah on the Offbeat. She was a surprisingly judgemental friend, exclusively when it came to her friends as couples, kept FORGETTING about the boy who she KNEW LIKED HER and LIED TO HIM (and I get that she didn’t like him back, but most of the time, she was so rude to him by FORGETTING HE EXISTED) and also, she just didn’t give people second chances. With Leah, it was if you messed up once, that’s it. I didn’t end up liking her and I AM SO SAD FOR IT.

2.       Leah and Abby: Honestly, Leah and Abby were too angsty and drama filled together for me to like them. I also wish that we’d seen Leah and Nick, who’d been friends for FOREVER talk it out because at the end of the day, this series revolves around friendship and acceptance.


And that’s it. I just didn’t like the MAIN STORY LINE and PROTAGONIST as much as I should have and desperately wanted to and for that reason, I can’t recommend this book as much as I recommend Becky Albertalli’s other two!

Becky Albertalli

Becky Albertalli is the author of the acclaimed novels Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (film: Love, Simon), The Upside of Unrequited, and Leah on the Offbeat. She is also the co-author of What If It's Us with Adam Silvera. A former clinical psychologist who specialized in working with children and teens, Becky lives with her family in Atlanta. You can visit her online at www.beckyalbertalli.com.

Are you a Becky Albertalli fan?
Which book and character are your favourites?
What did you think about Leah on the Offbeat?
 

Not Bollywood Enough // REVIEW: Love, Take Two by Saranya Rai

Title: Love, Take Two
Author: Saranya Rai
Publication Date: August 13th 2018
Publisher: Penguin Random House India
Part of a Series?: No, A Standalone
I Got A Copy Through: Penguin Random House India (THANK YOU!)
Buy Links: Amazon IN || Google Books || Infibeam || Flipkart
Blurb Description: She's tall, beautiful and one of Bollywood's leading ladies.He's goofy, loves to wear outlandish clothes and is constantly getting into trouble with reporters.When Vicky Behl and Kritika Vadukut meet on the sets of the period drama Ranjha Ranjha, everyone agrees they have serious chemistry--not just on screen. But after her devastating breakup with Raunak Rajput, Kritika doesn't know if she can handle being with a Bollywood actor. If only Vicky wasn't so damn charming . . .Will the pressure and scrutiny of Bollywood allow them to live happily ever?
I typically LOVE Indian rom-coms. I thoroughly enjoyed almost every one I’ve picked up (there haven’t been that many) and especially ones that start off with a misunderstanding (like Nikita Deshpande’s It Must’ve Been Something He Wrote) or just general animosity between the protagonists (like The Zoya Factor by Anuja Chauhan)

Which is why, when a lovely PRH India editor pitched me this book, I knew I HAD to read it. It sounded like so many books I’ve loved and I dove into it almost immediately after I received it!

MY THOUGHTS:

1.       Honestly, Love, Take Two was a CUTE ENOUGH book. It had some chemistry filled moments, some elements of family and friendship and, of course, Bollywood, but I didn’t find it exceptional.

2.       The romance between Kritika and Vicky seemed sort of insta-lovey. Like both of them found the other attractive, but Kritika was wary and then the wariness went away after she realised he was a genuine person. I mean, it was fine and believable, but I didn’t find it in me to ROOT for them
from the bottom of my heart. They just seemed like fictional characters on a page, not the realistic people filled with passion and hilarity and misunderstandings that I was expecting.

3.       I also really liked that there were OTHER romances happening simultaneously, and I hope we see spin-offs or sequels surrounding Arun and Sudarshana and Mini and Jahan. Especially Mini and Jahan, because they seem SO CUTE.

4.       In retrospect, I wish this book was more… Bollywood. There was not NEARLY enough drama happening, absolutely no taking on the drama that could have been brought by Kritika’s ex (who, really, why was he mentioned in the FIRST LINE on the synopsis if he doesn’t make an appearance at all?)


Would I recommend this book? It’s a book you’ll probably read only once, but if you love Indian romances, then you should pick it up. 
Saranya Rai spent most of her impressionable childhood binge-watching Hindi serials, reading romance novels despite her mother's warnings and absorbing everything Bollywood through film magazines, late-night talk shows, the radio and, later, the Internet. She is now a reasonably well-adjusted adult, still heavily invested in pop culture.
What are some of your favourite romance novels?
What are some of your favourite romance tropes? I'd absolutely love any rom-com recommendations you might have!
 

A Book I Didn't Enjoy // REVIEW: These Rebel Waves by Sara Raasch

Title: These Rebel Waves (Stream Raiders #1)
Author: Sara Raasch
Publication Date: August 7th 2018
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Part of a Series?: Yes, Book 1/3 of the Stream Raiders Trilogy
I Got A Copy Through: HarperCollins India (THANK YOU!)
Buy Links: Amazon IN || Barnes and Noble || Wordery || Foyles ||Waterstones || WHSmith || Books A Million || Chapters Indigo || Google Books || Infibeam
Blurb Description: A thrilling new fantasy series—full of deadly magic, double crosses, and a dangerous quest in a new world—from Sara Raasch, the New York Times bestselling author of the Snow Like Ashes series.
Adeluna is a soldier. Five years ago, she helped the magic-rich island of Grace Loray overthrow its oppressor, Agrid, a country ruled by religion.
But adjusting to postwar life has not been easy. When an Argridian delegate vanishes during peace talks with Grace Loray’s new Council, Argrid demands brutal justice—but Lu suspects something dangerous is at work.
Devereux is a pirate. As one of the stream raiders who run rampant on Grace Loray, he scavenges the island’s magic plants and sells them on the black market. But after Argrid accuses raiders of the diplomat’s abduction, Vex becomes a target. An expert navigator, he agrees to help Lu find the Argridian—but the truth they uncover could be deadlier than any war.
Benat is a heretic. The crown prince of Argrid, he harbors a secret obsession with Grace Loray’s forbidden magic. When Ben’s father, the king, gives him the shocking task of reversing Argrid’s fear of magic, Ben has to decide if one prince can change a devout country—or if he’s building his own pyre.
As conspiracies arise, Lu, Vex, and Ben will have to decide who they really are . . . and what they are willing to become for peace.
ACTUAL RATING: 2.75 STARS

I’d been reading this book for WEEKS before the pace picked up and I kind of got into the book. And even after that, just like my experience with the other Sara Raasch book I read, Snow like Ashes, I ended up being confused amidst all the politics and descriptions and didn’t end up enjoying the book at all.

THINGS THAT CONFUSED ME/ I DIDN’T ENJOY MUCH:

1.       Adeluna: Honestly, I felt like I read the same line – ‘The Argridians are behind the capture of Milo Iberra and I intend to expose it to bring peace to the island’ – only about 800 times throughout this 400+ page book from Adeluna’s perspective. IT FELT SO LINEAR and REPETITIVE and honestly, it bored me.
There was also, through the book, so much mystery surrounding who exactly she was in the revolution and well, WHY? I DIDN’T UNDERSTAND HOW A TEN-YEAR-OLD BECAME AN ASSASSIN, and SUCH a good shot, AND WHY HER FATHER WOULD TURN HER INTO ONE IN THE FIRST PLACE. I understand the spying aspect, because WHO WOULD SUSPECT A 10-YEAR-OLD, but why an assassin?
ALSO, HOW DID HER MOTHER NOT KNOW ABOUT ANY OF THIS?
It seemed, honestly, incredulous and unbelievable.


2.       Magic: For so much talk of magic, the evils and the benefits consuming so much of the book, we learnt almost nothing of it in the book. The plants are so confusing, and if you ask me now, one day after I finished the book, I couldn’t name any of them for you.

3.        The Church and Royalty of Argrid: I absolutely hated the king and the poisonous environment he fostered in his country. I didn’t understand how people believed his with NO QUESTION, especially when he changed his mind on the very thing he used as an excuse to burn thousands at the stake, including his own brother and nephew. I also didn’t get his motivation or grand plan and I’M JUST CONFUSED ABOUT THE AMBIGUITY OF IT ALL. Where did a legion of super soldiers COME FROM INTO THE PLOT? What are they going to be used for?

Honestly, I had HIGH hopes for this book. It had been on my radar from early this year, and I was VERY much looking forward to reading it. Pirates and magic? WHAT COULD GO WRONG?


And yet, everything did. I didn’t enjoy myself reading this book, and I probably won’t be picking up the sequel. 

Sara Raasch
Sara Raasch has known she was destined for bookish things since the age of five, when her friends had a lemonade stand and she tagged along to sell her hand-drawn picture books too. Not much has changed since then — her friends still cock concerned eyebrows when she attempts to draw things and her enthusiasm for the written word still drives her to extreme measures. Her debut YA fantasy, SNOW LIKE ASHES, the first in a trilogy, came out October 14, 2014 from Balzer + Bray. It does not feature her hand-drawn pictures.

Have you read Sara Raasch's Snow like Ashes series? What did you think of it?
What are your FAVOURITE pirate novels?
I'd love to hear from you!