Book Review Books

Book Review: The Conference of the Birds

A prophecy, a girl who needs to be saved from an unknown danger and lots of action, the fifth book in the Peculiar Children Series, The Conference of the Birds is another riveting book.

Starting from where we left off in A Map of Days, we follow Jacob as he rescues Noor and takes her to Devil’s Acre with him. Finding herself for the first time in a place full of peculiars, she is overwhelmed and overjoyed at the same time. She meets the wards of Miss Peregrine and they accept her as one of their own.

What follows is a brainstorming session to find and understand the meaning of the prophecy which makes Noor so important for survival of the peculiars and how to get her to safety. At the same time, Jacob is sucked into the dissent between the peculiar clans of America even as the Ymbrynes try to sort it all and bring peace in Peculiar America.

Ransom Riggs creates another masterpiece and does justice to every character of his book. Jacob and Noor may have been in the spotlight but he ensures that every one of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children get their share of storyline. Also, Ransom Riggs gives a lot of focus on importance of friends and family. Even though Jacob acted impulsively and left Devil’s Acre to find Noor alone, his friends followed him to help, giving him a lesson that family always stands for one another even when they are angry at them. They also accept Noor as one on their own without any questions because she is Jacob’s friend.

The story is full of action and where A Map of Days had seemed a little slow to me, The Conference of the Birds moves ahead full throttle. Jacob, the only hollow-hunter left to help the peculiars, is again set on the task of finding a hollow and wights after they escape from their prison in Devil’s Acre. The discovery of a new Loop of what I would call “Dead People Walking” is wonderful and eerie. There is also the budding romance between Jacob and Noor as they find themselves coming closer amidst all the chaos.

The ending paves way for another sequel and I’m sure with the return of the ever powerful and super evil villain, Caul, the next book too will be full of action and adventure.

My rating: 4.9/5

Book Review Books

Book Review: A Map of Days

The fourth part of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, A Map of Days by Ransom Riggs does not disappoint. Having finished the first three parts back in early 2017, I came to know of this fourth instalment only last year. Since then, I have been meaning to read this but never actually managing to squeeze this in my never ending TBR pile. But this July, I finally managed to read the book and enjoyed it.

A Map of Days starts where Library of Souls left, the Peculiar Children appearing at Jacob’s door to save him from his parents who were about to commit him to asylum. The Peculiar Children are now ageing at a normal pace, just like normals and they wish to use this advantage to blend in with the others in today’s world.

What starts for Jacob with a commitment to help the children and the ymbrynes soon transforms into his desire to be a hollow – hunter like his grandfather. He now undertakes a mission to help another peculiar with some of his friends.

A Map of Days, like it’s previous three books is very interesting and full of unexpected twists. Ransom Riggs has continued the story in the same engrossing way and the pictures he uses add perfect surrealism to the story.

Transition between years as the children and Jacob move from one time zone to another is seamless and attention to details of a particular era is commendable. Emma & Jacob’s relationship is also worth mentioning. Though Jacob had loved his grandfather, Abe, ghost of dead grandfather as Emma’s lover is still haunting him & Emma as deep down Emma is still not over Abe.

Personally, I think the book could have moved at a faster pace. The attention to details is important here specially when you are “loop” travelling but it also slowed down the plot a little. A little more action would certainly have given the readers some more fun. But, other than that, I can find no fault in A Map of Days. It is a must read series for all.

Two of my favourite quotes from the book:

“All my life, normal people had mostly baffled me-the ridiculous ways they strove to impress one another, the mediocre goals that seemed to drive them, the banality of their dreams. The way people rejected anything that didn’t fit their narrow paradigm of acceptability, as if those who thought or acted or dressed or dreamed differently from them were a threat to their very existence.”

“it’s a lot of cheese.” “It’s the pinnacle of human achievement,” he declared seriously. “I thought Britain was an empire. But this—this—is world domination!”

My rating: 4.8/5

Book Review Books

Book review: Thirteen Reasons Why

You don’t know what goes on in anyone’s life but your own. And when you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re not messing with just that part. Unfortunately, you can’t be that precise and selective. When you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re messing with their entire life.” – Hannah Baker in Thirteen Reasons Why

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. In the month of mental health awareness, I picked up this book. Having heard so much about the book, I was quite excited to read Thirteen Reasons Why. It’s about Hannah Baker, the girl who committed suicide and her tapes that she has left for some of her “friends”, 13 people who are in some way responsible for her final act.

The story begins with Clay receiving a shoe box full of tapes which he realises are from Hannah who has been dead for a few weeks now. In the tapes, she talks about all that happened to her and why she took such a drastic action.

The author, Jay Asher has built an amazing story with a continuity that forces one to turn to the next page to know what happened next. Hannah’s account along with Clayton’s narrative of the same time period makes this a very intriguing read.

Though you know what happens in the end, the story grips you because it’s not about what happens but about how it happens. The mental trauma that certain acts can have on others is depicted in a very real manner.

Hannah declares in the first cassette itself that she is making the tapes for people who were responsible for her suicide. From that moment on Clay is intrigued and worried because he liked her and can’t figure out when and how he hurt her so much.

First person narration of both Hannah’s and Clay’s stories is what makes this one a different and intriguing experience and really leaves a mark. I feel that this book is a must read.

My rating: 4.9/5

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Book Review: The Autumn of the Patriarch

The Autumn of the Patriarch by Gabriel García Márquez. The story starts with the people of an unnamed Caribbean nation finding their tyrannical dictator withered and dead in his house, alone. The man who used to have people killed at his whim and children drowned without any remorse has died a humiliating mortal death.

The story goes on about the atrocities committed by the General and how he ruled over the people with an iron fist. In his own style, Gabriel García Márquez depict autocrats, autocracy and the conquest for power in general.

Most of his story-telling has been through the realms of magical realism and in The Autumn of the Patriarch too, he explores the world of deep politics in the same manner. He describes a tumultuous world being ruled over by greed, corruption, and abuse of power.

Márquez has not given a name or nation to the autocrat, thereby making him a universal entity and the country could be anywhere in the world and the situation could allude to any human being.

“…but he learned to live with those and all the miseries of glory as he discovered in the course of his uncountable years that a lie is more comfortable than doubt, more useful than love, more lasting than truth,…”

There are words like these that have made Márquez the wonderful story teller that he his and this is the reason people love his books.

The narration of Márquez is as always brilliant but the extremely long sentences are quite bothersome in the beginning. Sometimes, a sentence goes on for pages and the book certainly requires a high level of concentration. I grew quite restless at times while reading the book because at times it felt like nothing was moving forward, but then I made myself continue to read it and I’m quite glad I did so.

My rating: 3.9/5

Book Review Books

Book Review: Little Women

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott is a book that I have been meaning to read for a long time. And finally, this March I picked up the book for March prompt of Reading With Muffy challenge. Little Women is about four sisters and one of the most trying years of their lives where they learn to love, share and face the trials and tribulations of life together.

The story begins with the girls preparing for Christmas without their father, who has gone to the war. The girls, Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy are amiable young ladies with the oldest 17 years of age. They discuss their hopes and dreams with each other and their mother. In the course of the year that progresses, the four girls learn to love and cherish each other and their home even more as they learn more about life through the various experiences.

The eldest, Meg dreams of living a lavish, comfortable life like they used to before their father lost all his money; Jo is a headstrong girl who writes stories and is highly passionate; Beth is the quietest of all who takes care of all and has a passion for music; Anne is the youngest and the most pampered.

As is common in reading a story written more than one and a half century ago, many decisions of the characters may not make sense to the readers of the 21st century. But, what I found in this book is that nowhere is it preachy or confines ladies to the domestic world. Jo is the biggest example who makes her decisions and is not shy to earn money by selling her written work. Little Women is a beautifully written story and I’m glad I read it.

My rating: 4.8/5

Book Review Books

Book Review: The Kiss Quotient

This February I picked up a romance to read. I don’t dislike the genre and there have been a few good books that I have read. So this year, on the occasion of Valentine’s Day, I read The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang.

The story is about a successful career oriented girl, Stella who is awkward in social situations and a good looking guy, Michael who works as a part time hooker. She hires the guy to teach her certain skills that she doesn’t have and also to teach her how to date.

The premise of the story is fine and there are times when it’s even interesting for a few pages. But mostly I didn’t like it. The characters are not relatable. There is so little time spent with them and so much is spent on sex that it reads more like a M&B book. And I personally outgrew them in high school.

What Helen Hoang needed to do was spend some more time with the lead characters. A successful autistic heroine is a good start but all she does is stay lost in her work and think about sex. There is nothing else to her.

The Kiss Quotient did not leave a very content feeling for me. So yeah, I won’t recommend it to anyone.

My rating: 2.5/5

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Book Review: Dream Beyond Shadows: No Ordinary Tourist

A lot of times, we go through in our lives what is called an existential crisis. This is when we start questioning all that we do, the way we live, where we work, every aspect of our lives.

The author, Kartikeya Ladha goes through the same and goes out and about to explore himself. He has a good job, with great opportunities for him to grow but one day he realises that he wants more from his life. He wants to search in himself and the world what is it that he truly seeks. The book Dream Beyond Shadows: No Ordinary Tourist is about that journey.

The book is a recollection of the journey he undertakes to Peru. He quits his job and goes on to a country with very little to no knowledge of the language. It’s about the difficulties he faces and how he manages to overcome them. Living in a foreign country, earning his livelihood there, meeting and interacting with new people add to his journey and he gains a knowledge of himself and the meaning of life that we are living.

The writing is quite interesting and takes us on a journey with the author. The poems and illustrations are the added joys of the book. Do read it for a peek into the fruitful experience of the author.

My rating: 4.1/5

P.S. I would like to thank the author for review copy of the book.

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Book Review: Post Millennial Tales

Post Millennial Tales is a book of micro tales written and illustrated by young twins Navya Singh and Bhavya Singh. The 12-year-old sisters have written tales that are relevant and sensitive. The words depict the true nature of the world we live in and are written from their hearts.

Illustrations in the book have truly added to the experience of reading this book. As you turn the pages, you can’t help marvelling over the amazing thoughts and the pictures depicting these thoughts. Navya and Bhavya are a team and together they have brought awesomeness to my book collection.

Kudos to these two!

My rating: 4.8/5

Book Review Books

Book review: The Gopi Diaries: Coming Home

The Gopi Diaries: Coming Home by Sudha Murty is the first part of a trilogy. It is the story of a pup who has been adopted by a loving family and is a first-person account of the dog, Gopi.

The story starts with birth of Gopi and how he feels being adopted by a human family soon after. The first part ends with Gopi having a good time at the family’s home with Ajji and others.

This being a children’s book, the writing is simple and easy to understand. The illustrations are spot on and make for a very beautiful book. Sudha Murty has written a joyful book about a pup’s journey which will be enjoyed by children.


Book Review: The Doll Factory

It’s dark, it’s twisted and it’s got love. The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Seagan is a tale of love set in 1850s London, where Iris and Rose, twin sisters live and work at a doll shop. Iris, with wrongly set collarbone from a birth injury, walks with a slightly different gait and Rose, once the perfect twin with a beautiful face, is now disfigured due to smallpox scars and has lost sight in one eye. Iris dreams of painting and she assiduously saves money to buy paint and easel. And this desire to paint makes her accept Louis Frost’s offer to model for his painting in exchange of painting lessons.

Unknown to her Silas, a lonely taxidermist is slowly getting obsessed with her. There is Albie, running through the dark and grimy streets of London earning his living by making dresses for the dolls that the sisters make and whom Iris considers as a little brother. Louis Frost is part of a group of painters who call themselves PRB, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood who are rebelling against the academic norms of the time.

When Iris and Louis set to work together, she takes lodging away from Mrs Salter’s shop and finds her freedom for the first time in life; and also a chance to learn art from Louis himself. With time they fall in love. Meanwhile, Silas’s obsession for Iris increases day by day and he starts following her. Albie, who has an inkling of what Silas wants, goes through a conscience struggle when Silas threatens to kill his sister if he tells Iris anything.

The story builds on the love and obsession with ease and the early 1850s London of the poor is depicted vividly. Iris with her quest for freedom, Louis with his ideas for art, Albie with inherent goodness in his heart are all great characters and grow as the story progresses but the best of the lost is Silas. As his obsession for Iris grows, we see how lonely and deranged he is and his twisted mind is enough to give creeps to anyone.

I liked the way the story progresses. The first 30 or so pages were a bit slow for me but after that I was in the story. This is Elizabeth Seagan’s first book and I look forward to reading her next work which I hope lives up to the benchmark she has created with The Doll Factory. This was one of the better books of the year and a perfect end to my 2019 read list.

My rating: 5/5