A Beautiful Story// REVIEW: Never Gone by Anusha Subramaniam

Title: Never Gone
Author: Anusha Subramaniam
Publication Date: September 7th 2016
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 || Flipkart || Snapdeal || Infibeam 
Blurb Description: Siddharth and Veera have a connection they refuse to acknowledge. There is more to Kavya than her snooty social-butterfly act. Mahir is the heartbroken heartbreaker. Aslesha has built all her friendships on a foundation of lies. Nikhil has spent his entire life learning how to shut people out. All Aakash wants is a second chance. And then there's Ananya. The one who was born to raise hell and change the world. 
“You broke my heart but made sure that I didn’t cut myself on the pieces. You left me feeling lonely but made sure that I was never alone.” 
Imagine yourself sitting in the cafeteria, or in class, every day, rolling your eyes at the silly antics of your friends, laughing and not saying the things you really want say because well, there’s always tomorrow, right? Time is on your side.
But what if isn’t?

What if you couldn’t say all the things you wanted to say to someone and make the apologies you wanted to make? What if your time was up?

Told in seven alternating viewpoints of teenagers in the same social group, dealing with the death of one of their own, Never Gone is the Indian YA Contemporary you’ve been waiting for.

Truth be told, I went into this book with little to no expectations. I’d tried other debut Indian authors trying to recreate Indian School Life, and they’d failed. And Anusha Subramaniam, managed to surprise me in the SECOND CHAPTER.


There were so many things I loved about this book, especially the emphasis it put on friendship and doing things in the NOW, not waiting for an unpredictable future. I adored the road trip to the beach house and the wedding and of course, finishing all the items on their friend’s bucket list. There were a lot of times when I was reminded of my school days (they’re not that long ago, only a couple of months but still) and it felt very spot on to what different teenagers face in their lives.

 My favourite thing about Never Gone was Aakash and Ananya, and the dynamic between them. I loved this friendship turned something more and all the stories we heard were either swoony or hilarious and I loved them ALL.

There were a few things that annoyed me a little, like:

a)      The dialogue was so awkward in some parts

‘MAHIR!’ Niharika (predictably) shrieked. ‘You watch. I will make your last year at school hell. No one will speak to you. You do not want to cross me!’

That it made me want to cringe. In a book exploring some pretty deep stuff, some of it seemed superficial, unneeded and artificial. Then again, for a sixteen year old author, this was a pretty good book.


b)      The Ending, after a pretty realistic book was so perfectly rounded out, with a new love interest for EVERYBODY, and everyone professing undying love to each other made me want to roll my eyes. After a fairly realistic book, this UNREALISTIC fairy tale like ending was a little off-putting.

In a nutshell, Never Gone is a beautiful story of friendship, first love and moving on that you should definitely pick up! 3.75 stars!
One of the country's youngest published authors, Anusha Subramanian was only twelve when she wrote her first book, Heirs of Catriona. Her hobbies include reading, binge watching television shows and writing, of course. Why wait for someone else to do it when you can write your own fairy tale, right? You can connect with her on twitter @AnushaS_.
What was the last diverse contemporary novel you read? What is your favourite romance trope in contemporary novels - the best friend/ the bad boy/ the nerd and the popular girl or the manic pixie dreamgirl?

I can't wait to hear your thoughts and preferences!

Just A Filler // REVIEW: Mourning Train by Carrie Harris (ReMade S01E07)


Title: Mourning Train (ReMade Season 1 Episode 7)
Author: Carrie Harris
Publication Date: October 26th 2016
Publisher: Serial Box Publishing
Part of a Series?: Yes, Episode 7/15 of ReMade Season 1
I Got A Copy Through: The Publisher (THANK YOU!)
Buy Links: Episodes are available in text and audio and can be enjoyed through the Serial Box App, at SerialBox.com, or wherever eBooks are sold.
Blurb Description:You live. You love. You Die. Now RUN. ReMade is a thrilling sci-fi adventure that will take readers past the boundaries of time, space, and even death.

This is the 7th episode of ReMade, a 15-episode serial from Serial Box Publishing. This episode was written by Carrie Harris.

Converging on the mysterious train, the survivors make their hasty getaway after the horrific caretaker attack and greet new faces while counting those lost. But with a wild landscape streaming past and no idea where they are headed, the question quickly becomes: who is driving? 

ReMade Season One: In one moment the lives of twenty-three teenagers are forever changed, and it’s not just because they all happen to die. “ReMade” in a world they barely recognize – one with robots, space elevators, and unchecked jungle – they must work together to survive. They came from different places, backgrounds, and families, and now they might be the last people on earth. Lost meets The Maze Runner in exciting serial adventure.
 Season One will unfold across 15 episodes beginning September 14th, with a new installment dropping every Wednesday until the season finale on December 21st. Jump into this digital serial, available in both text and audio, and find out what the future of fiction holds.

Before you start this review, you should download you FREE copy of Book One in this AWESOME season here.
Or, you can read my review of Episode 1, Shadows and Dreams, written by Matthew Cody here,  Episode two, Hungry by Andrea Philips here, Episode Three, Home, Perilious Home here, Episode 4, The Most Dangerous Game here Episode 5, Umta here, and Episode 6, Reality No-Show here.

I absolutely loved the connection Episode 6 gave us, connecting Teddy the reality TV star with a possible mental illness to all the space station survivors, and I was so excited to see what everyone would be doing in Mourning Train.

It was also told in Nevaeh's viewpoint, and since I LOVED her the last time, I was EVEN MORE excited as soon as I started reading. 

And, after ALL THE HYPE in my own head, Mourning Train fell completely flat, felt EXACTLY like a filler episode after two explosive ones and had me flipping pages WAITING/ PRAYING/ HOPING for something to happen, but nothing did.


Not even a minute after Episode 6 closed, the viewpoint switches to Nevaeh, and the aftermath of the massacre through her eyes. She feels slightly useless, and thinks of all the people that didn't make it onto the train who could've been more useful than her.

The episode is spent with a MAGICAL Food dispensing machine and opening a door with Loki's gun to see a caretaker, pining after Holden and bouts of self-pity and flashbacks.

While this wasn't everything it could have been, or everything I expected it to be, I will still be following ReMade (I NEED ANSWERS. WHAT IN THE WORLD IS GOING ON?) and it's also understandable to have a filler episode in the midst of SO MUCH DRAMA.

3 stars, and I'm signing off with the hopes of better things coming.

 ReMade is a serial presented episodically in 15 parts by Serial Box Publishing.


In one moment the lives of twenty-three teenagers are forever changed, and it’s not just because they all happen to die.  Remade in a world they barely recognize – one with robots, space elevators, and unchecked jungle – they must work together to solve the mystery and stay alive. They came from different places, backgrounds, and families, and now they are our only hope. Lost meets The Maze Runner in this thrilling serial that combines contemporary YA with classic Science Fiction to fling you headfirst into adventure.
Carrie Harris was born in Chicago but if you ask her, she’ll say she’s from Ohio. Her interests include English Literature, brains, and hot geek boys. She has held a string of very incongruous jobs but in between autopsies and studying mad cows, she wrote for various tabletop roleplaying games and textbook companies. These days she writes books for teens, tweens, and adults while also being the Marketing Director for Evil Hat Productions. Her published works include Bad Taste in Boys, and Demon DerbyCarrieHarrisBooks.com@CarrHarr.
Serial Box produces and publishes fiction serials, blending story production and distribution practices from television, book publishing and narrative podcasting. These team-written original serials span a range of genres including sci fi / fantasy, espionage, contemporary and historical drama, post-apocalyptic, etc. Serial Box delivers episodes to fans’ digital devices every Wednesday over the course of 13-16 week seasons. Each episode is available in ebook and audio and takes about 40 minutes to enjoy. Learn more at Serial Box.com. Follow us on TwitterInstagramFacebook, and our blog
Have you heard of Serial Box Publishing? What do you think of Episode Books, and would you read them? 
What do you think of ReMade so far? 

Carrie Harris, Author of ReMade - Interview

Hi Everyone!

If you've been following the blog, you'd know that I recently got the opportunity to read this Dystopian Series split into fifteen episodes (Like a TV Show) from this awesome publishing house, Serial Box Publishing.

I've been LOVING this series so much, they even arranged for me to interview one of the series writers, Carrie Harris, for the blog!

Before you move on, you should download you FREE copy of Book One in this AWESOME season here.
Or, you can read my review of Episode 1, Shadows and Dreams, written by Matthew Cody here,  Episode two, Hungry by Andrea Philips here, Episode Three, Home, Perilious Home here, Episode 4, The Most Dangerous Game here and Episode 5, Umta here.

1. The funniest experience you've ever had:

Oh, I’m full of ridiculous stories, and I’m not sure I can choose just one. There was the time my ex-boyfriend decided he was a werewolf and attacked my sofa. There was the boyfriend who got a cue ball stuck in his mouth. There was the boyfriend that—you know, I think I could write a sitcom just based on my ex-boyfriends alone. How have I never thought of this before?!?!

2. If you were gifted a million dollars, what would you spend it on?

Well, I’m a mom now, so I have to start with responsible mom things like college and car savings for the kids. But I’d put aside a bit to splurge on crazy dresses with crinolines and monsters on them. I’d wear them every day if I could. Oh, and ridiculous socks. I bet I could afford a lot of ridiculous socks with a million dollars minus the responsible mom stuff, don’t you?
3. Your favorite:

-Actor/ Actress
Anna Kendrick! Anna and I share a severe problem—we both have Resting B*tch Face. In fact, one of my friends as I communicate almost exclusively via Anna Kendrick RBF memes. Anna is my spirit animal. Or maybe I’m hers?

-Food
Potatoes. I really love potatoes. Like, the first Christmas we were together, my husband wrapped one up and gave it to me as a gift. I kept it, because I was all sentimental. Over a potato.

- Drink
Diet Dr. Pepper. I drink it at breakfast, because I’m too hyper for coffee.

-Colour
Orange. Halloween is my favorite holiday, and orange makes me think of it. Plus, it’s just so cheery and bright, and I like colors that are IN YO FACE.

And Now, Moving on to the ReMade Masterpiece:

4. How did the idea for ReMade come about and how does the writing between multiple authors work?

Matt Cody came up with the idea, because he is la brilliant. One of the things I liked most about the experience was that with such a diverse cast, we each got to bring a few characters to the table and throw them together. I think that helped even out any differences between our voices, and it took us in unexpected directions when we sat down together to figure out the basic plot of the story. I hadn’t expected that, and it was really awesome to experience.

5. How different is it, writing an episode over a full length book?

Very! On one hand, it’s much quicker to write that episode, so it felt very easy to dash off the first draft. But then, there are so many details to nail down, and we were often writing episodes at the same time. So we’d all turn them in, read them, and then work on making them consistent. It’s the little things you don’t think of—like, do the jumpsuits have pockets? We kept discovering them with each round of episodes and then working on the solutions together.

6. Tell us a little about your ReMade character, and which others are your favourite!

Well, in the episodes you’ve seen so far, I’ve been writing Nevaeh, who is a cancer survivor. She’s been sick for so long that coming to the world of ReMade, even with all of its dangers and uncertainties, is a good thing. She’s thrilled to be there, and to be alive at all. On the surface, Nevaeh is nice to a fault, but as the story progresses, she’s going to show a bit more of a backbone and come out of her shell. After all that she’s been through, she’s a lot stronger than she seems!


Later on in the series, I write a different character, but I’m not sure I’m supposed to say who. It’s a different POV than we’ve seen so far, and heartbreakingly tragic. But I’m not going to say any more so I don’t get into trouble. 
Carrie Harris was born in Chicago but if you ask her, she’ll say she’s from Ohio. Her interests include English Literature, brains, and hot geek boys. She has held a string of very incongruous jobs but in between autopsies and studying mad cows, she wrote for various tabletop roleplaying games and textbook companies. These days she writes books for teens, tweens, and adults while also being the Marketing Director for Evil Hat Productions. Her published works include Bad Taste in Boys, and Demon DerbyCarrieHarrisBooks.com@CarrHarr.

 ReMade is a serial presented episodically in 15 parts by Serial Box Publishing.



In one moment the lives of twenty-three teenagers are forever changed, and it’s not just because they all happen to die.  Remade in a world they barely recognize – one with robots, space elevators, and unchecked jungle – they must work together to solve the mystery and stay alive. They came from different places, backgrounds, and families, and now they are our only hope. Lost meets The Maze Runner in this thrilling serial that combines contemporary YA with classic Science Fiction to fling you headfirst into adventure.
Have you started reading ReMade? Are you interested? 
Do chat with Carrie in the comments!

Dark and Magical // REVIEW: Three Dark Crowns by Kendrae Blake

Title: Three Dark Crowns (Three Dark Crowns #1)
Author: Kendrae Blake
Publication Date: September 22nd 2016
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Part of a Series?: Yes, Book 1/2 of the Three Dark Crowns Duology
I Got A Copy Through: Pan Macmillan India (THANK YOU!)
Blurb Description: Three sisters. One crown. A fight to the death.
In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.
But becoming the Queen Crowned isn't solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it's not just a game of win or lose . . . it's life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.
The last queen standing gets the crown.
"Three Black Witches are born in a GlenSweet Little TripletsWill Never Be FriendsThree Black Witches, All fair to be seen,Two to devour,And one to be queen.”

If that doesn’t send CHILLS down your spine, well, READ IT AGAIN.

Ever since I heard about Three Dark Crowns, I just knew it would be the PERFECT book for me and I WAS DYING TO GET MY BOOK DRAGON HANDS (Claws? Talons?) on it!

When the lovely folks at Pan Macmillan India decided to grant my request to read this BEAUTIFUL book, I was SO thrilled and it resulted it me doing a (REALLY AWKWARD) penguin-esque Dance. Another hungry BookDragon, Chitra, also happened to get this awesome book on the same day and we decided to buddy read it together.

Three Dark Crowns is about three sisters – each with a different magical gift. One is a poisoner, one an elementalist and the third a naturalist. To win the throne they were born for, they need to kill their other sisters.

Going into the book, I honestly expected (wanted/ needed) it to revolve around three sisters willing to do anything to win the throne. I was also REALLY hoping they would be badass, and not strung up on some random boy (because the only thing better than #GirlPower is #QueenPower) and well, Three Dark Crowns delivered, but not in the ways I expected.

Things I LOVED about this book:

1.       THE MAGIC: I have ALWAYS thought that Magic is the COOLEST, and Three Dark Crowns merged three different kinds! Arsinoe is supposed to be a naturalist, who can bloom flowers and have animals as familiars. Mirabelle has control over all the elements – fire, wind, air and water (ALSO, LIGHTNING), and Katharine can’t die even with the strongest of poisons in her system.

2.       THE FAMILIES WITH THE MAGIC: This was one of the things I didn’t expect about Three Dark Crowns, but each queen had a family, and a following, of people with magic JUST LIKE THEIRS living in different parts of the Island. They were ruthless or caring or dominating respectively, but it was VERY cool to see such awesome secondary characters with smaller story arcs of their own.

3.       JULES: Arsinoe’s best friend and the most powerful elementalist in over 60 years, Jules is BADASS, a loyal friend and lover and POWERFUL and I LOVED HER SO MUCH. I was hoping for a plot twist that made her one of the Queens (no luck there) but she is by far my favourite character!

4.       THE PLOT: While the marketing of the book promises something slightly different, the plot of Three Dark Crowns is BEAUTIFUL. Not only is it three sisters battling it out to be the one true queen (there’s no battling in this book per se, but it will come in the next) but it’s also about island politics, families, power, friendship and suitors (or potential king consorts) and while it was about the queens, they weren’t the only three in the spotlight. I LOVED all the secondary characters, and I’m dying for more.

THINGS THAT MADE ME CRINGE:

   1.       JOSEPH (GAAH): Jules’s one true love and childhood best friend (with Arsinoe) is, simply put, AN ASS. I hated every fiber of his being and I JUST WANT HIM GONE. No spoilers, but I’m sure you will feel the same way.

   2.       BADASS QUEENS OR SILLY PUPPETS? I went in expecting some seriously badass (think Katniss Everdeen or Aelin Galynthius) queens, but for most of the book, they were just puppets on strings, allowing their families or elders to push them around, telling them what to do. It wasn’t until the very ending that they became the queens they were MEANT TO BE, and while that excited me, it wasn’t enough.

I will MOST DEFINITELY be reading the second book in the duology, One Dark Throne.

A Magic-Filled, Adrenaline-Pumping Dark fight for the Crown that I would DEFINITELY recommend! 4 stars!
If you could be an elementalist, a poisoner or a naturalist, which would you pick?
Who are your favourite fictional sisters?
Would you entertain the possibility of killing your sisters to win a throne? 

Nikita Deshpande, Author of It Must've Been Something He Wrote - Interview + Giveaway

On the Blog today I have with me the absolutely WONDERFUL Nikita Deshpande, debut author of the Indian Contemporary novel, It Must've Been Something He Wrote published by Hachette India. 

I had the opportunity to read and fall utterly in love with her book, and I'm so excited to offer you the chance to read it as well. 

It Must've Been Something He Wrote revolves around a Book Snob (AKA BookDragon) Amrutha, who is currently working in the marketing department of a very prestigious publishing house. She manages to insult one of their top authors to his face, and from there hilarity ensures. 

Filled with HILARIOUS, Swoony moments, unlikely friendships and BOOKS, I cannot recommend this book more! 
1. If you had 48 hours to spend with someone (living, dead or fictional) who would it be and why?

Right now, I want to spend 48 hours with Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples, the creators of this BRILLIANT graphic novel called Saga. Saga is like this unholy marriage of fantasy fiction, romantic comedy, sci-fi, epic plus in some ways, coming of age. Every genre I love is written into this comic and it's among the best things I've ever read.


If I could spend 48 hours with these people, I'd probably just tail them, look over their shoulders while they sketch or take notes and feel like I'm at 2-day university. I just want to power download everything they know and just GET about love, sex, family and humour into my brain.

2. Name three things you NEED to have in your dream house:


A writing desk, bookshelves, lots of light. 


3. Five books you would recommend to a newbie reader:
Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone (the gateway drug), The Fault in Our Stars, Those Pricey Thakur Girls, any Asterix comic, and Steal Like An Artist.

And now, moving on to your masterpiece:
4. Tell Us About The Day You Were Getting Published:


The day I found out I was getting published? That was supremely special.

My friend Sukanya Venkatraghavan (also a writer) told me she was participating in an open call for manuscripts called the DNA Hachette Next  Bestseller Hunt and insisted that I participate too. Strangely, she had more confidence in my work than I did. So we entered and then we were both on the shortlist so we sent in the next round of writing.
And so somewhere in 2014, when I was assisting Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra on Mirzya... We were in some meeting I think and my phone was on silent. When I got out, I saw two missed calls from some unknown number and three from Suku. I called her back first. And she broke the news to me that Hachette had picked not one but three winners and that both of us had won. I can't remember what happened immediately after that but it's been two and a half years since and Suku has an amazing novel called Dark Things and I have It Must've Been Something He Wrote. 

5. In It Must've Been Something He Wrote, Amruta narrates that there is a lot that is wrong with the Indian Book Industry. Do you share her views?
To start with, I think Ruta is extremely idealistic. And as a young person, she has little patience before she jumps to a judgement. So no, I don't share all her views.

Although I do share some of her frustrations when I see a great book by a lesser-known writer doing badly when compared to an average book by a name writer. I wish there were more forums, better platforms to put word out about new local writers. Even for me as a reader - I end up reading less Indian fiction because I rarely hear anyone talk about new Indian work with the same enthusiasm that say, someone recommended The God of Small Things to me.

6. If you book was turned into a movie, who would you cast as your characters?

I'd love to see a chubster version of Alia Bhatt or Bhumi Pednekar play Ruta. Jish is a younger Ranbir Kapoor or Sidharth Malhotra in my head. I'd love to see Adil Hussain as M - I think he'd be perfectly intimidating. 

Nikita Deshpande is a creative nomad. A writer of copy, screenplay and poetry, she graduated in English Literature from St. Xavier's College, Mumbai. An occasional film-maker, she has assisted directors on prominent films such as Fukrey (2013) and Mirzya (2016), and was the writer/director of the winning commercial at Crash the Pepsi IPL (2015). It Must've Been Something He Wrote is her first novel.

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Title: It Must've Been Something He Wrote
Author: Nikita Deshpande
Publication Date: August 20th 2016
Publisher: Hachette India
Part of a Series?: No, A Standalone!
I Got A Copy Through: Hachette India (THANK YOU!)
Blurb Description: When obsessive book-lover (ahem, book snob) Amruta – Ruta – Adarkar arrives in Delhi to work as a marketing executive for Parker-Hailey's Publishing, she learns that the world of books is not as cozy as she’d imagined. Her eccentric taskmaster of a boss expects marketing miracles to happen on shoestring budgets and in record time, and surviving the job (and the city) means she’ll have to master the local art of jugaad really fast. Worst of all, she’s stuck being a publicist for Jishnu Guha, protein-shake lover, serial selfie-taker, and bestselling author of seven cheesy romance novels, the kind she wouldn’t be caught dead reading. 
As Ruta struggles between work and life in a new city, she finds, much to her annoyance, that she needs Jishnu’s help more than she cares to admit. But with her own parents getting a divorce, can Ruta dare to fall in love, especially with someone who’s so impossibly different?
Giveaway sponsored by Hachette India. Prize will be shipped to the winner by A Thousand Words A Million Books. 
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