Book Review: Cracked Up To Be

Title: Cracked Up To Be
Author: Courtney Summers
ISBN: 9780312383695
Source: Library Copy
Rating: 4 out of 5

Synopsis: Parker Fadley was once perfect – a straight A student, captain of the cheerleading squad, girlfriend of the hottest guy in school everyone wanted and a very popular girl. One night, everything changed and now she is a mess. Parker is now destructive to herself and others around her. She has abandoned her friends, broken up with her boyfriend and is lagging behind in her school work. Why would a girl who had it all do such a thing is the mystery.

My Review:

I picked up this book since I wanted a light right with some mystery thrown into it and it didn’t let me down. I haven’t read much contemporary YA but after reading this book, I have suddenly turned in to a fan of this genre. The summary made me think it would be an emotional novel but it turned out to be shockingly heart wrenching.

Parker is such a likeable character, although she is mean to everyone, selfish at times and very self-destructive. She is damaged but what is endearing though is her brutal honesty, wit and her inherent intelligence that shines through in certain situations. Parker has flashbacks of one night that changed everything for her and since then she has put on this facade of being strong and difficult. It’s only through these flashbacks that we understand what really happened and why Parker is hurting so much while being mean to everyone.

This novel explores the complex and difficult world of teens – homework, projects, best friends, petty disputes, teen love and parties. However, Parker’s raw emotional state and the edge on which she is balancing is real anguish. Drugs, alcohol and sex surround her and she is really holding it together for her studies when in fact she may fall apart anytime.

But teen life is also about friends and their true friendship. Amidst all her pain and suffering, she has her ex-boyfriend Chris and the new guy in school Jake who refuse to give up on her and want to help her by breaking through the barriers she has created.

Everyone faces the pressure to be the best and excel but sometimes it is too much to handle and one may crack, like Parker did. This is a gripping, fast-paced read and an emotional one at that which is beautifully written with endearing lead characters.

Note: This post has been cross-posted at Bond with Books.

The Cinema Experience

The Yogi Bear Show
Image via Wikipedia

We took Shantanu, who by the way is turning more into a brat by the day, to watch a movie last weekend. The multiplexes here air kiddie movies every Saturday morning. We decided it was time to introduce the little punk to the theatre. Movie listings were checked, the brat was shown a couple of movie trailers just to check his liking.  We finally decides on Yogi Bear after Cars and Kung Fu Panda. He seemed excited enough although it was me and hubby who were more eager to go and watch a movie, any movie in a theatre after more than a year. The excitement of going for a movie doesn’t end na? I have always felt eager and excited to watch a movie in theatre – the tickets, popcorn, pepsi-coke  – it is so reviving.

All set, the next day saw us at the theatre half an hour before the movie time. He watched the ads before the movie with deep concentration and I was starting to feel relaxed that he might sit still during the movie ahead.


He was all attention when the Bear was on the screen and started crying as soon as it was out of scene. After a lot of cajoling and coaxing, hubby took him out and got a big cone of popcorn 🙂

Alas the movie was one smooth ride after that. We even waited till the closing credits rolled out!! Pizzas and chocolate drinks followed and he was one happy kid by afternoon.

Shantanu and I also had our very first Bowling experience. With all our travelling, he is turning out to be a very outgoing person.

No wonder hubby wants to send him in to Travel and Living! 🙂


Diary Of A Baby

Got this in the mail today, early morning. 

*Diary of a BABY*

17Jun:I am tissue

30Jun:Mom told Dad, ur goin 2 b father
           MOM-DAD R VRY Hppy!

15Jul:My fud is wht mum eats

15Sep:Can feel ma heartbeat

14Oct:I hv little hands,legs,head a stomach

13Nov:2day i was ultrascaned
           Wow!I AM A GIRL

14Nov:I was DEAD! My mom n dad killed me

Jst coz i was a girl?
ppl luv 2 hv Mother,Wife,a Girlfriend TOO

Then Y not DAUGHTER???:-(


I had assumed it must be something funny or emotional before I began reading it, but then this caught me unaware and just saddened me. 😦

Sad Situation

I was roused from my afternoon slumber yesterday when hubby called to inform me that three blasts have taken place in Mumbai. Frantic calls to family and friends followed. We heaved a sigh of relief when everyone back home was safe and accounted for.

This is the second time in the last four years of my marriage that I am out of India and these terror attacks took place and on these both occasions we talked to family, they said, they were glad, happy in fact that we were out of Mumbai. Yesterday, my FIL told me to continue our stay here in Edinburgh for as long as possible. That was his conclusion. This is what it has come to. It’s better if you are an NRI.

Later last evening we took sonny out in the gardens for his play and to buy some groceries. He is reluctant to sit in the pram now and is quite happy to walk. We don’t have to grab him by the arm, or keep a watch on him from fear of someone kidnapping him or him getting lost in the crowd. Here he is free to walk, stroll, run as he pleases, in the garden and even on the footpath. Could this ever be possible in Mumbai now?

Later when I spoke with my dad, he said that this one is comparatively better than the train blasts which took more lives! At least the death toll is less. As if that makes this attack okay somehow. We have adjusted to such low standards of security. We have so less expectations.

Who is affected and who does really care? The families of the dead ones are so grieved with the deaths, they don’t have the strength to lash out and blame the government, the families of those who are injured are busy taking care of them and worried about their health. When my dad was injured in the 1993 blasts, we were more worried about his health than questioning the government. And then there are those who are well and come out unharmed from these attacks, like us. We are relieved that we are safe, our families and friends are safe. We watch the news, blog, comment, express anger and frustration – but in the end we are just bystanders, helplessly watching the dismal conditions around us. Next day, we get up, get ready, go to offices – of course we have to meet the project deadlines. We have to earn our bread and butter after all.

We are in a loop. Terror strikes, people respond in anger. Blame government, media, politicians, our hopeless situation. Few days pass, anger subsides, people get sucked back into their lives problems, attacks are pushed at the back of our minds, we continue with life until the next strike comes. There is no solution.

The common man’s life is of no importance in Mumbai and in India. You have no job security if you stay back home scared from these attacks. Here in Edinburgh, when it snowed last year for an entire week and the roads were covered in knee-deep hardened snow, people were advised not to leave their houses unless necessary and that didn’t include offices and work. Schools were closed, holidays declared and offices were shut down early in the coming days. That is the level of safety precautions that this government took due to a week of heavy snowfall. And we Mumbaikars are back in offices and kids in school on the very next day of such deadly attacks. Have terror strikes and blasts become a way of life in Mumbai?

It’s a very sad situation.

Book Review: These Things Hidden

Title: These Things Hidden
Author: Heather Gudenkauf
ISBN13: 9780778328797
Source: Library Copy
Rating: 5 out of 5

Synopsis: Allison Glenn was once Linden Fall’s golden girl in every way. She was perfect daughter, the model student, she had the good looks and good grades with aspirations of college and beyond. All that changed one night when she was sent to prison for five years for an unforgivable crime. Now, she is released on parole and wants to lead a normal life and re-establish her relationship with her younger sister, Brynn. Brynn, on the other hand, has faced the burden of what happened that night for all these years. All she wants to do is bury the past and forget Allison.

My Review:

This is a very intriguing and absorbing read. Even though Allison committed a crime, I couldn’t help but care for her. We don’t really know what she did in the beginning of the novel but we know it is heinous by the sound of it. However, her character is written so well and with so much care that you cannot help feeling sympathetic about her by the time you find out what she did.

The book is written in alternating viewpoints between the four central characters and it is a style I have come to love as it offers brilliant characterisation. All the central characters are very well drawn out and you can relate to them for their beliefs, faith, their past sufferings and the choices they make because of them.

As the story progresses, the past is revealed at the perfect moment. The suspenseful writing makes it very interesting and I was hooked from the beginning. The writing is also almost lyrical and poignant.

The book deals with a lot of realistic issues about teenage life, sibling relationships, secrets and guilt, and parenting. It also deals with the complex mother-child relationship and how different women react to it. Apart from our parents and upbringing, the choices we make affect our lives. While bad choices may ruin it, good choices might just as well take their toll.

I would highly recommend this book if you want to read about contemporary issues with a blend of suspense/mystery to it.

Note: This post has been cross-posted at Bond with Books.

Rainbow at my window after a thunderous weekend and comfort books

The rains stayed well into the weekend with lightning, thunder and heavy showers but ended with a rainbow. This was the scene outside our drawing-room window when it finally ended.

Rainbow at my window
Every time see I rainbow, and believe me, I have spotted it a lot of time, I fall in love with this city all over again. I mean, back in Mumbai, how many times do you get a chance to relax and look out of your window at home, spot a rainbow and smile? I love this escape from my hectic life in Mumbai. I absolutely love watching rainbows with my son and I know this is one thing I will always remember about this city – the relaxed life and spotting rainbows with sonny. It is so very comforting.
Although I didn’t eat pakoras, this weather had me wrapped under a blanket with my favourite book – Pride and Prejudice. Almost all of us have our comfort reads..books that are on our shelf for keeps. Books that we go back to when we need a guaranteed entertainment.  

Pride and Prejudice
Image by elycefeliz via Flickr
Books that fulfill this function for me are any of Agatha Christie‘s and Pride and Prejudice. And sometimes we wish to watch a movie instead of reading a book. For me that would again be, P&P, the Colin Firth mini-series, Father of the Bride – both parts, Devil Wears Prada. Surely, you all must also have such lists. Tell me, which are your comfort books and movies?

Back to routine life

It had been a good two months with the in-laws visiting and all of us travelling. Lots of fun was had. Tummies filled with delicious food cooked by MIL. Our house achieved unprecedented records of decibel levels with six adults trying to manage two kids who are two years old. Luckily, we weren’t loud enough to be complained for noisy neighbours. It is difficult to come back to the quiet home after having such a lively atmosphere. But sonny seems to have taken that in stride. Though I feel that he misses his grandparents, not a word of sadness has been uttered by that boy. I wonder at time where do kids get this adjustment mechanisms from?

The schools and playgroups have closed down for summer vacation and hence our Wednesdays are no more occupied with Tumble Tots. However, sonny has completed the Walking to 2 Years programme. He also got his very first certificate for it. I am so proud. Earlier I had written about him not adjusting to the playgroup environment but the last three sessions changed it all. He not only stopped crying, but in fact, he started enjoying and playing a lot. After summer, he will be going to the next leve, 2 to 3 Years. Here’s the certificate.

Tumble Tots Certificate

Talking about certificates, he got another one from the library today for reading books. Isn’t that totally encouraging?

Library Certificate

Although summer has officially started, this week was full of rains and today, even thundery showers. I wouldn’t have given a second thought to it, had I been in Mumbai. Aren’t Mumbai rains famous? But here they feel out-of-place and the thunders sure rock through the neighbourhood. The overcast skies this week have added to my sullen mood. But it also makes me want to eat hot pakoras and chai.. 🙂

I am getting totally bored with WordPress templates. The lack of flexibility, inability to add java script widgets and, really boring templates. I am seriously thinking of shifting back to Blogspot. What do you think, should I? I mean, apart from the advantage of replying to individual comments, (well there aren’t many, any rather), I see no other reason to stay with WordPress. Hmm, maybe I should keep parallel blogs on both for some time and then decided. What say? Guide me, come on! I have spent a major part of my day browsing through the beautiful Blogger templates and am tempted…

PS: What do you think of the new theme?

Book Review: The Space Between Us

Title: The Space Between Us
Author: Thrity Umrigar
ISBN: 978-0007212330
Source: Library Copy
Rating: 4.75 out of 5

Synopsis: Sera, a widow, is an upper middle class Parsi housewife living in Bombay. After her husband, Feroz’s death, she lives with her daughter Dinaz and her husband. Though she is presently happy with her daughter, her husband, Feroz’s and mother in law’s abuse still haunts her. Bhima is Sera’s housekeeper for years. When Bhima’s underage grand daughter, Maya becomes pregnant, Bhima is fearful for her future.

My Review:
This book was on my TBR list for a long time and I finally got a chance to read it. I was hooked on from the first page. This is a very well written book. Even though the content isn’t always pleasing, the people and the emotions are so very real. Of the two protagonists, Bhima’s character is of true integrity and strength. She changes and grows as the novel progresses. Despite the hardships she suffered in life and the challenges that she still faces, she is like a rock and has the will to endure more for her loved ones. She doesn’t feel sorry for herself even though she is angry. She feels lucky with her job at Sera’s family and that they treat her like a person.

Sera has had a financially secure life but all isn’t good as it appears on the surface. Her husband, Feroz, was physically and emotionally abusive and she has suffered a lot at the hands of both him and her mother-in-law. Even after Feroz’s death, the past abuse haunts her and she finds comfort in her daughter Dinaz and her husband. Bhima is the only person who is aware of Feroz’s abuse and thus these two share a secret. Although Sera treats Bhima with care and gives her special attention, she is not able to think of her as an equal.

The male characters though written beautifully, do not have any redeeming qualities. Having said this, the women are also imperfect in their decisions and choices yet portrayed authentically. Umrigar has not only explored class differences in this book but the balance of power among cultures and societies.  It is an incredible book with real characters and beautiful poignant writing. Highly recommended.

PS: Second book of my South Asian Challenge.