Hellooo! Yes, I’m back after so long. I missed this space but life had me wrapped around its fingers and I couldn’t bring myself to write for so long. Even now I don’t know if I’ll be able to write as consistently as I used to, but I’ll try. Anyway, here I’ll talk about all the books I’ve read this year so far.
1- Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee and K.E. Ormsbee
After a shout-out from one of the Internet’s superstar vloggers, Natasha “Tash” Zelenka finds herself and her obscure, amateur web series, Unhappy Families, thrust into the limelight: She’s gone viral.
Her show is a modern adaptation of Anna Karenina—written by Tash’s literary love Count Lev Nikolayevich “Leo” Tolstoy. Tash is a fan of the forty thousand new subscribers, their gushing tweets, and flashy Tumblr GIFs. Not so much the pressure to deliver the best web series ever.
And when Unhappy Families is nominated for a Golden Tuba award, Tash’s cyber-flirtation with Thom Causer, a fellow award nominee, suddenly has the potential to become something IRL—if she can figure out how to tell said crush that she’s romantic asexual.
Tash wants to enjoy her newfound fame, but will she lose her friends in her rise to the top? What would Tolstoy do?
This one was a light, breezy read. I read it for the romantic asexual representation which we hardly ever get, and I liked how the book addressed it. The characters were also well-written – everyone was flawed in their own way yet endearing. I also liked how Tash was a filmmaker and a bookworm, and especially enjoyed the way internet fame was depicted. Overall, a fun read that does get a little tiresome in the middle, but picks up pace again later on.
2. Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott, Mikki Daughtry, Tobias Iaconis
Stella Grant likes to be in control—even though her totally out of control lungs have sent her in and out of the hospital most of her life. At this point, what Stella needs to control most is keeping herself away from anyone or anything that might pass along an infection and jeopardize the possibility of a lung transplant. Six feet apart. No exceptions.
The only thing Will Newman wants to be in control of is getting out of this hospital. He couldn’t care less about his treatments, or a fancy new clinical drug trial. Soon, he’ll turn eighteen and then he’ll be able to unplug all these machines and actually go see the world, not just its hospitals.
Will’s exactly what Stella needs to stay away from. If he so much as breathes on Stella she could lose her spot on the transplant list. Either one of them could die. The only way to stay alive is to stay apart. But suddenly six feet doesn’t feel like safety. It feels like punishment.
What if they could steal back just a little bit of the space their broken lungs have stolen from them? Would five feet apart really be so dangerous if it stops their hearts from breaking too?
I had tried to watch the film first and I could hardly make it past the 45 minutes or so. I picked up the book to see why exactly were people so in love with it, and yeah I kind of get it. I was able to connect with the characters a lot more in the book, which made it easier to root for them. I liked the banter between Will and Stella, and the open ending we were given. I still don’t think it’s an epic tragic romance or anything, but it was good-enough for a one-time-read.
3. We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
You go through life thinking there’s so much you need…
Until you leave with only your phone, your wallet, and a picture of your mother.
Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.
This was an incredibly sad book. Every page is filled with so much sadness, loneliness and pain captured so beautifully by the writer. It talks about grief, loss, growing up and love. It shows you love in different forms and shapes. It is the kind of book that both destroys and restores your faith in love. The love that exists between the two main characters is the kind of love that cannot easily be given a label, but is beautiful nonetheless. The only grouse one may have with the book is the languid pace and lack of ‘plot’, but it worked for me. Yes, certain things could have been done better, but I loved it overall.
4. The Henna Wars by Adiba Jagirdar
When Nishat comes out to her parents, they say she can be anyone she wants—as long as she isn’t herself. Because Muslim girls aren’t lesbians. Nishat doesn’t want to hide who she is, but she also doesn’t want to lose her relationship with her family. And her life only gets harder once a childhood friend walks back into her life.
Flávia is beautiful and charismatic and Nishat falls for her instantly. But when a school competition invites students to create their own businesses, both Flávia and Nishat choose to do henna, even though Flávia is appropriating Nishat’s culture. Amidst sabotage and school stress, their lives get more tangled—but Nishat can’t quite get rid of her crush on Flávia, and realizes there might be more to her than she realized.
I picked this one because of the LGBTQ and POC representation it promised. And the book delivered on a lot of counts. Its depiction of homophobia the main character experiences as being part of a desi family and studying in a Catholic school was pretty much on point. I also liked the way the book addressed cultural appropriation, and tried to draw a distinct line between appropriation and appreciation. However, I did feel the book was quite repetitive, and I wasn’t entirely satisfied with its take on certain issues. But the attempt is nonetheless appreciable.
5. Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz is the closest thing to a prince this side of the Atlantic. With his intrepid sister and the Veep’s genius granddaughter, they’re the White House Trio, a beautiful millennial marketing strategy for his mother, President Ellen Claremont. International socialite duties do have downsides—namely, when photos of a confrontation with his longtime nemesis Prince Henry at a royal wedding leak to the tabloids and threaten American/British relations. The plan for damage control: staging a fake friendship between the First Son and the Prince.
As President Claremont kicks off her reelection bid, Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret relationship with Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations. What is worth the sacrifice? How do you do all the good you can do? And, most importantly, how will history remember you?
THE BEST BOOK EVER! No seriously, this has to be one of my favourites and something I’d definitely reread more than twice. First of all, the whole idea of the book was so interesting that I was hooked from page 1. The characters are dynamic – flawed but absolutely loveable. I laughed, I cried, I fumed – I was with the characters every step of the way. I loved the way it spoke about sexual orientation, identity and so on. I am no expert to comment on the political aspects of this book, but on a whole it was truly engaging. Highly recommended I’d say.