Book Review: Side Effects May Vary




About the Book:


For fans of John Green and Rainbow Rowell comes this powerful novel about a girl with cancer who creates a take-no-prisoners bucket list that sets off a war at school—only to discover she's gone into remission.

When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs. So she convinces her best friend, Harvey, to help her with a crazy bucket list that's as much about revenge as it is about hope. But just when Alice's scores are settled, she goes into remission, and now she must face the consequences of all she's said and done. Contemporary realistic-fiction readers who love romantic stories featuring strong heroines will find much to savor in this standout debut.

About the Author:


Julie Murphy lives in North Texas with her husband who loves her, her dog who adores her, and her cats who tolerate her. After several wonderful years in the library world, Julie now writes full-time. When she’s not writing or reliving her reference desk glory days, she can be found watching made-for-TV movies, hunting for the perfect slice of cheese pizza, and planning her next great travel adventure. She is the author of Dumplin’, Side Effects May Vary, and Ramona Blue. You can visit Julie at www.juliemurphywrites.com.

The Review:


There must be an odd kind of comfort in knowing that no matter how badly you screw up, there will always be that person to be there for you. And they will continue being there for you even if you’re the biggest asshole in the face of the planet. Until one day, they wake up from their dream world and say quietly, ‘I am done with your bullshit.’ They walk away and you wonder how you could have missed the signs. You’d taken it for granted that no matter what happens they will be there in your life forever. Always in your line of sight – but not next to you!

Such is the story of Alice and Harvey in Side Effects May Vary. Honestly, the blurb had raised my expectations really high. It claimed to be about a girl named Alice who is diagnosed with leukaemia and she has a sentence over her head. But she decides to have the last word wherein she had her friend, Harvey, pull off elaborate schemes wherein she doesn’t take any prisoners. But her plans fall through when instead of dying she goes into remission and has to deal with the consequences of all that she has done.

While the story starts off with a lot of promise and the reader cannot wait to know what god awful things are on the list, it turns out to be disappointing. There were only two people who wronged her and her revenge over them is nothing but petty. Then again, Alice isn’t painted to be a Saint. She is somewhere near the popularity chain of the social ladder and she has stumbled upon secrets that she wants to use as leverage. But Harvey is the only good influence in her life. Harvey is the only thing that stops her from completely going over to the dark side. And yet since she is scared of promising him forever, since she is incapable of making a commitment, she does what any person who doesn’t want to lose the best person in their lives would do – she strings him along. She uses him and when push comes to shove, she lashes out at him. While I understand that Alice had gone through a turmoil – accepting you have no future and then suddenly being told you do – can wreak havoc in your mind. It still, however, isn’t a good enough reason to be a shitty person to everyone else around you.

Had I read this book at any other point of time in my life, I wouldn’t have liked it all that much, I bet. But I could feel and empathize with Harvey’s pain. There were times I wanted to reach into the book and shake Alice until her teeth rattled in her head. Julie Murphy’s debut certainly held a lot of promise. And while I applaud the unique storyline, I wish the revenge plot every bit has take-no-prisoners kind as the blurb had promised.

Still, I am going to read the other books by Julie Murphy. 


Rating: 3.75/5


Fave Five Friday: Lines From Literature


And this week for Fave Five Friday, an initiative by BUZZ Magazine, we are going to be sharing our favourite lines from literature. The rules said they do not have to be first or last lines. So I shall be sharing with you lines from books that have always held some meaning for me.

1. “There is always the risk: something is good and good and good and good, and then all at once it gets awkward. All at once, she sees you looking at her, and then she doesn't want to joke around with you anymore, because she doesn't want to seem flirty, because she doesn't want you to think she likes you. It’s such a disaster, whenever, in the course of human relationships, someone begins to chisel away at the wall of separation between friendship and kissing. Breaking down that wall is the kind of story that might have a happy middle— oh, look, we broke down this wall, I’m going to look at you like a girl and you’re going to look at me like a boy and we’re going to play a fun game called Can I Put My Hand There What About There What About There. And sometimes that happy middle looks so great that you can convince yourself that it’s not the middle but will last forever.”



― John GreenLet It Snow: Three Holiday


My Thoughts: I have held this quote dearly to my heart because I know from personal experience how one wrong move can ruin years' worth of friendships! And because I have always been blindsided when it comes to matters of the heart. The middle doesn't last forever no matter how much we fool ourselves into believing it does. And no matter how hard you try - once you break the wall between friendship and kissing, there is no going back. This quote made a lot of sense to me when I read the book years ago. It still does. 






2. "It is so hard to leave until you leave and then it becomes the easiest goddamn thing in the world." 



- John Green, Paper Towns 

My Thoughts: I have lived in the same house for nearly twenty-eight years now. While I am fascinated by the thought of leaving someday, I am also scared by the whole new world out there. I didn't believe this quote when I first read it. But now I do. It just seems impossible until you do it. 




3. “Perhaps when two people are exactly in accord, and always happy when together and lonely when apart, they ought not to let anything in the world stand between them.” 

― Jean WebsterDaddy Long Legs

My Thoughts: When I finished reading this book I was all of sixteen years old with a heart full of love and a head filled with thoughts of romance. I always believed in the crazy, passionate kind of love. Not the quiet, domestic, mediocre kind. I have held on tight to this quote. I haven't found anyone yet who is worthy of this quote though. 




4. “The great thing about this life of ours is that you can be someone different to everybody.” 

― Jennifer NivenAll the Bright Places

My Thoughts: I always believed this. From a very young age. It was clear when my friend and I were speaking about the same person and have two completely opposing perspectives. How befitting that years later I found a book which had a quote that perfectly summed up what I already knew?







5. “You can love someone so much,' he thought. 'But you can never love people as much as you can miss them.”

― John Green, An Abundance of Katherines


My Thoughts: This one needs no explanation. Every time I have had bitter breakups - be it friendship or romantic or otherwise, I found myself missing them and realizing that more than loving them they had become habits. I still miss some of them terribly. But that doesn't mean that I want any of them back in my life. Missing someone is not synonymous with wanting someone back. 






Book Review: Pick Lock Picks and Sequined Witch Hats


About the Book:


Seventeen-year-old Gracie Mason is homecoming queen, co-captain of the cheerleading squad, and a member of the student council. She’s also a budding burglar.

While attempting her inaugural break-in, Gracie blacks out and wakes up far away from the scene. It turns out she accidentally intruded on a male witch’s “circle of power,” and now she’s bonded to him for life. To break the bond, Gracie must delve deeper into a society of witches that involves a secret club, a shadowy council, and all sorts of magical mischief.

Gracie quickly learns that dissolving the bond with Asher, admittedly a very handsome and charming witch, is more complicated than she initially thought. And right when it seems things can’t get any worse, witches start turning up dead. It’s clear that Gracie is out of her depth as her quest to sever the bond magically turns into a murder investigation.

Filled with thrills, humor, and lots of magic, Pink Lock Picks and Sequined Witch Hats is an enthralling urban fantasy set in sizzling central Texas. Author Carla Rehse has expertly crafted a rich and unique magical world where just about anything can happen.

About the Author:


Although not a native Texan, Carla Rehse prides herself on having mastered the correct usage of the colloquialisms "y'all" and "Bless your heart."

Carla holds a bachelor's degree in psychology from Angelo State University, but her fastidious kitty rules the computer keyboard, allowing Rehse to write only when demands for cat treats are met. Carla can be found at carlarehse.com and @CRehse on twitter.

The Review:

While I have been a member of NetGalley since 2013, it wasn’t until recently that I started browsing for reads there. (Being gifted a Nook Book in 2015 really helped!) And initially no one would let me have a go at their reads. I don’t blame them. Someone with 0 reads and 0 feedback wouldn’t score high on publisher’s lists. However, when I read the blurb for Pink Lock Picks and Sequined Witch Hats, I just knew I had to read this book! I was jumping for joy when I was granted access to read the book.

I finished reading the book late last night and wanted to immediately hammer out a review. But since it was 2 am in the morning, I thought the morning was a better option. I went to sleep with my head filled with thoughts of Asher, Gracie, Willow and the Secret Witch Society that lives amongst us.
At the onset the story doesn’t seem like much to go by. Gracie is waiting to commit a crime and unknown to her Asher is waiting too to find clues about his missing brother. He has noticed her before she hasn’t had time to look up from her diamond studded mobile phone to notice him. Gracie is a self-proclaimed spoiled rotten Princess with wicked scheming skills. She had literally talk herself out of trouble, con her way out of messes and she doesn’t really like being told that she cannot do magic. Because human beings can’t do that!

Asher is comes across a sweet, charming witch who doesn’t know what he has gotten into the minute he bonds with Gracie. They obviously are attracted to each other. And together they are racing against time to figure out who is trying to overthrow their King. (Yes, witches have Kings. They live amongst us. Well, at least in the world Pink Lock Picks is set in.) I actually found myself immensely enjoying the read. I liked how Carla Rehse has painted an entire Universe with their own set of rules and regulations. I also loved the various twists she’s put into the story as well.

While I loved the Asher-Gracie scenes the most, I wish all the back story had not been given to us in dialogue. Especially during the times Gracie explains to the twins what she had her girl gang have been getting into it. Speaking of which, I wish we knew a little more about the girl gang. Not just stray comments from Gracie.

My only complaint is the ending seemed a little too rushed and the book ends on several unanswered questions. I can tell that this book was to have a sequel but maybe the author felt too discouraged to write it or share it with the world. If there is a sequel, I want to read it because I’m burning to know a few things.


Finally if you like reading fantasy, love magic and sarcastic, sassy characters this one is definitely for you. If not, stay away from it. I need the sequel of this book in my life. Right now would be perfect too. 

Rating 




I got this book from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.

Fave Five Friday: Fave Five Book to Movies/TV Series Adaptations



Fave Five Friday is a bloghop hosted by BUZZ Magazine.

I recently started working on adapting short stories into screenplays and I know firsthand that it is no child's play. We can always sigh and say that book is hundred times better than the movies (or tv series). However, sometimes, we need to see the hard work that goes into coming up with these adaptations. Here are my Fave Five Picks for Book to Movies Adaptations. (I think I'll make a separate post for TV series someday.)

1. Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell




Margaret Mitchell's only novel, Gone With The Wind, had caused quite a stir when it was released. The movie was made almost a decade later and starred Clark Gable as Rhett Butler and Vivian Leigh as Scarlett O'Hara. The movie has till date remained one of the timeless classics and let us hope that no one tries to remake this.



You can watch the trailer for the movie here:


               

2. The Chronicles of Narnia Series by C.W. Lewis 






It took a very long time for The Chronicles of Narnia to be turned into a movie series. I loved watching the adventures of the Pevensive children unfold on the big screen. In my opinion, this was one of the best made adaptations.


3. Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen

 
I remember watching the movie adaptation of this on YouTube a few years ago. During the time when I couldn't sleep at night. (Which my doctor tells me has finally started showing signs of taking a toll on my health.) I had enjoyed the movie immensely and imagine my delight when I figured out that this was based on a book! It was one of those rare instances where I had seen the movie first. I loved the easy friendship between Julie and Bryce, and I loved, love how their story unfolds. The only difference between the book and the movie is that the movie is set in a far earlier time period than the book. But both are delights in their own way. Do check out the trailer:





4. The Fault in Our Stars and Paper Towns by John Green




John Green's novel, The Fault in Our Stars, the story of two star-crossed lovers, Augustus Waters and Hazel Grace Lancaster took the world by storm. Less than a year later, the movie was released and the world laughed and cried all over again over the bittersweet love story. Ansel Elgort brought Gus to life and especially mention ought to be made for Nat Wolff for bringing out the character of Issac.






We got to see him in a more fleshed out role in Paper Towns, as the protagonist, Q, who researches through heaven and high water for Margo, that released a year after TFIOS. And would you believe the book had been released back in 2008? Both these movies tie in the 4th spot on my list because the source is one I've fallen head over heels in love with: John Green. If you haven't seen these movies yet (or read the books) pick them up and enjoy your party of one this Friday!




5. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn




I remember sleeping through the time I was supposed to meet a friend of mine to catch the show for this movie adapted from the book. I apologized because I had overslept (health problems, hello!) And then treated her to a later show for the same.

Gone Girl is easily one of the best adaptations that I had seen in recent times. I had read the book and loved it. I couldn't wait to see what would happen in the movie. They had added quite a few layers in the movie. Nevertheless it was an amazing treat. If you haven't watched the movie yet (or read the book), you should definitely add it to your list. Especially if you like reading dark fiction.