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Book Review Books

Book Review: The Desolations of Devil’s Acre

“How many people would spend their lives among shades and ghosts, were they able? Every parent who’d lost a child, every lover who’d lost a mate: If they had the choice, wouldn’t most do the same? We’re all riddled with holes, and there were days when I would’ve done anything to patch mine, if just for a while. I was glad I didn’t have a choice. Gladder still that I didn’t have the powers of an ymbryne. The temptation to misuse them would’ve been overwhelming.”

The Desolations of Devil’s Acre: final part of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. It all comes down to the final battle between the biggest evil Caul and the peculiar children in this sixth and final instalment of the series. There is no need for me to say that I had been waiting with eager excitement for this book to release.

The Desolations of Devil’s Acre starts where The Conference of the Birds ended; with the world going black for Jacob and Noor. They both find themselves in the backyard of Jacob’s grandfather’s house and from there on another struggle to survive begins.

Caul is back and more powerful and dangerous than before. He has a vendetta against his sister, Elma or Miss Peregrine as she is widely known and wants to enslave all peculiar children to do his bidding. What ensues now is a struggle to survive and defeat Caul before he destroys everything the ymbrynes have been working hard to build and protect.

The novel is full of action and there is never a dull moment. Where The Conference of the Birds may have been a little slow in the beginning, this one starts with a fight with a wight (eyeless men who kill without remorse) and continue with one adventure after another. Time travelling right into the middle of 2nd World War is also aptly written. Ransom Riggs has done justice to the setting of the War and to the whole fantasy genre as a whole. And the photographs he uses add to the joy of reading this book. It renders a surreal quality to the story and the author’s idea of using the photos has been great.

My one complain: all the original peculiar children should have been part of more action. I guess I am a bit biased towards them but once you start a series with particular characters, they sort of grow on you and you want them everywhere. Other than that, I think it was perfect.

The fact that this was the last part of an amazing book series made me want to read the book as fast as I could and yet not want to ever end the series. I had read the 1st part back in 2016 and I am so glad I picked up Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children to read. I know for sure that soon enough I will be re-reading the series from the beginning.

My rating: 4.9/5

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Book Review Books

Book review: City of Bones & City of Ashes

Now, I know these are old books, an old series but I have started reading this 6-book series this year, so I’m writing about them now.

City of Bones is the first part of The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare and is the book enchanting or what. I started reading it because I had to reduce he size of my one-year-old TBR list and this one called to me. Once I started, I had to finish it at he earliest and move to the next part.

Clarissa or Clary is an average American teenage girl who has a fairly simple life. Going to school, going out with friends and defying her mom. She has never known her father but she has a father-figure in her life, Luke. All this changes one day when she meets a handsome and attractive boy, Jace and his friends Alec and Isabelle.

Soon after, Clary’s mother disappears and she is sucked into a world that she didn’t even know existed. She meets Shadowhunters, demons, werewolves, vampires and warlocks. In her pursuit to find her mother, she comes across many truths that were hidden from her and also falls in love with Jace.

At the end of the first part, Clary finds her mother but she is in a coma-like state and no medicine shows any effect on her. Clary also learns some shocking truth about herself and Jace which changes the dynamics of her blossoming relationship with Jace completely.

Part two of the series, City of Ashes carries on with Clary’s search for a cure for her mother and also her struggles with the reality of the life that was hidden from her so far. They are all under serious threat from Valentine, the great villain, as he is gaining more power with each passing day.

Talking of the characters, Clary is a likeable teenager who is suddenly thrust into the unknown with no clue of who to trust and how to protect herself. Jace is fearless warrior who comes across as arrogant at first but is quite charming when he wants to be. Simon, Clary’s best friend is a normal human boy who likes her and keeps trying to tell her this. His character shows the maximum change and is a delight to read.

I found Cassandra Clare’s writing fast and interesting. I am partial towards fantasy books and this series has delivered it for me. The first two parts are good, fast and with enough plot twists to keep you hooked. From first page to the last, I was completely engrossed and as soon as I finished the first part, I wanted to move to the next. There are four more to go in the series and I have no idea how the story will pan out ahead, but the beginning of the saga is promising enough.

My rating: 4.5/5 for City of Bones

4.5/5 for City of Ashes

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Book Review Books

Book review: Chronicles of Kali

Chronicles of Kali: The Secret Book of Asurs is about a young girl, Kali who has supernatural powers, which is her ability to talk to plants and animals and understand them. She has the power to stop the Asurs and save mankind from self destruction.

I started reading this book and by the end of first chapter, I was a little apprehensive. There is this girl who understands animals and trees and can talk to them. But then I continued reading and before I realised, I had crossed 50 pages. This clearly indicates that I was drawn into the story.

Chronicles of Kali by Prithvi Raj is about Kali, a girl found floating in the waves of Ganga and adopted by the great sage Vyas. She is destined to bring about the fall of Asurs. On the ghats of Varanasi, she meets Pat who fosters her after they are forced to flee from Varanasi because of the Asurs.

The writing is simple, the author keeps the plot fast and interesting. He has added just the right amount of supernatural and fantasy and it is an interesting take on Goddess Kali. I recommend reading this book.

My rating: 4.5/5

P.S. Thank you @vinfluencers (Insta handle) for the review copy of this book.

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Book Review Books

Book review: Tarikshir, The Awakening

Hindu mythology meets history meets fiction. That is what Tarikshir, The Awakening essentially is. The readers are introduced to the presence of Tarikshir in the backdrop of Ram-Ravan war. He is a beastly creature dwelling somewhere in or near Ravan’s regal mansion and is capable of creating illusions and capturing all and sundry.

After the bone-chilling introduction, we move forward in time to the princely state of Devangarh in Rajasthan where the British are trying to gain supremacy over them and the king is opposing this with all his might. We are also made aware of a shadowy figure that looms large over the royal castle.

We also meet the hero, Prince Rudra who is destined to take over the throne that is under constant threat from the British and also unknown internal forces.

I found the story a little slow to begin with. It takes its time to pick up but once you are in the middle of it, you will not stop. The mystery of Tarikshir and valour of Rudra is captivating. The writer, Khayaal Patel has done a good job and considering this is his first work, it’s quite commendable. My only complain is that it could have been more concise and fast.

My rating: 3.2/5

P.S. “I got the book as a part of the review program in Outset” https://rakhijayashankar.blogspot.in

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Book Review Books

Book Review: Children of Blood and Bone

Sometimes I just love myself for the fact that I love reading! OK, so this book is not all that great or a literary genius but its good and fast and the girls take charge in a world where men make all the rules. Children of Blood and Bone is about Zelie, a diviner (one with magical blood) and Amari, the princess of Orisha who team up along with Tzain, Zelie’s brother to bring back magic to Orisha and bring down King Saran’s terrorising reign. When Amari sees the scroll that has the power to reawaken magic, she runs away with it from the royal castle and Zelie, without realising who she is, helps her escape.

Zelie and Amari have been chosen by the Gods to finish the quest to bring back magic and they start on this journey, albeit hesitantly and distrustful of each other. King Saran wants to keep magic dead and he would do anything to enure this. His son, Inan is on his side working hard to impress his father and be the future king that his father wishes him to be. What he soon realises though is that he too has magic in his blood which is reawakened when he accidentally touches the magic scroll while chasing Zelie and Amari.

Tomi Adeyemi’s debut novel is full of magic, even her words are magically woven. The love of siblings, struggle of a young girl who has seen her mother being tortured and hanged as an example, a brother’s struggle to keep his younger sister safe; another brother trying to capture his sister to impress his tyrranical father and a young princess who finds in herself the power to stand up against her father and runs away to help the diviners.

Of all the characters, Inan is probably the one who drew the short straw on life’s struggles because he is in the most unfathomable position of all. Trying to fit into his father’s very large expectations, he tries to bottle up his magic so he can be the son and prince that his father wants him to be.

The magical world is nicely woven, the feelings are too real and emotions are brilliantly depicted. With three teenagers having been thrust a task too daunting for them, the emotions are running high and mistakes are made. And it is Tomi Adeyemi’s amazing word-play that brings it all to life. I enjoyed reading this book a lot and I am hopeful that the second part will be just as good.

My rating: 4.8/5

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Book Review Books

Book Review: The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club

I remember, as a kid when I read a book I imagined myself being there, partaking the same adventure as the characters in the book. The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club has reminded me of the same childhood with its ships and unicorns. Stella’s adventure is so perfectly depicted, that it’s not hard to imagine being there in the Icelands with her.

The Polar Bear Explorer’s Club has Unicorns and dragons and wolves. Stella, an orphan girl, is taken
in by an explorer, Felix who brings her up as his own daughter. She has grown up listening to Felix’s stories of grand explorations and wishes to become an explorer herself. The only hindrance in her path is that The Polar Bear Explorer’s Club does not accept girls. It is a man’s world and she is not allowed to be a part of it. After much pleading on Stella’s part, Felix gets her accepted as a part of the Club and thus, she embarks upon an adventurous journey to the centre of the Icelands, where no man has ever reached before.

Though it is a children’s book, I enjoyed reading it. The plot is fast and easy. Stella is a lovable character and Beanie is different from others and cute. Other child explorers, Shay and Ethan have their wolf-whispering and magic and this unique group is stranded in the ice and they have to survive without any adult to help them.

Fairy-tale plus adventure with a touch of feminism makes for a great story and this one surely delivers. There are Frosties too who will bite off your fingers once you fall asleep. And the ending is so promising. I hope the sequel is coming soon.

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Book Review Books

Book Review: The Girl in The Tower

You know a book is well written when you are so engrossed in it that you don’t even realise when you reached the last page.

The Girl in The Tower starts where The Bear and The Nightingale ended.

After the death of her father and step-mother, Vasya leaves home to escape death in the hands of the villagers or a life in convent. She embarks upon an adventurous journey on her horse and reaches the abode of the Winter King. From there she moves ahead, dressed as a boy, to see the world. Her journey takes her to Moscow with her brother Sasha.

In Moscow is Vasya’s elder sister Olga, who is happily managing her household. Her daughter also sees the Domovoi and ghosts, just like Vasya. In Moscow begins another struggle for Vasya as she must protect her identity at all costs because the Prince of Moscow thinks very highly of the boy Vasilii and giving up her identity now would cause immense trouble for her brother and sister.

The novel starts same as the first part, with a Russian folktale, full of supernatural elements, which Olga narrates to other women and children of her Tower. The narrative is fast and interesting. The story builds with every page and before long you are dying to know what’s next for Vasya.

Vasya, as a character has really grown from a headstrong, stubborn girl to a wise young woman without losing her sense of independence. She is a woman in a man’s world and she keeps fighting the constraints put on her by the medieval Russian society.

The brilliance in Katherine Arden’s writing is such that you will find yourself riding and walking with Vasya, feeling devastated with her, angry for her and rooting for her all the way to the end. And also, a special mention for our very own Frost Demon. How can one not fall for him? For he is powerful, he is frost and he is vulnerable too. The way he takes care of Vasya and protects her is enough to melt anyone’s heart.

And now, I am impatiently waiting for third book of the series.

My rating: 4.8/5

 

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Book Review Books

Book Review: Hell! No Saints in Paradise

Do you believe in God? If you do, do you believe in the concept of Paradise and Hell? A.K. Asif in his book, Hell! No Saints in Paradise, is about one such man, Ismael who refutes this concept of paradise and hell and is doing research and writing a paper for dissertation on the same topic. One fine evening, in the year 2050, he meets a beautiful girl in New York who urges him to open his mind to various possibilities and convinces him to go to YegaYaga Centre for Ayahuasca where he would be able to glimpse some truth. Ismael is intrigued and goes to the Centre where he has a vision of an old man on bicycle. The man calls himself Chacha Khidr and tells Ismael  to go to Pakistan, where his fate was waiting for him. On his return home in Manhattan, he finds a letter, flight tickets to Lahore, money and a box with polio vaccine waiting for him. Thus, he starts his journey back home on an unknown adventure. Once he lands in Pakistan, he finds the people delusional and their behavior is erratic at best. People are ready to cut others’ throats at the slightest religious fault in the hope to gain paradise. On his first night in Lahore, he meets Chacha Khidr and Pir Pul Siraat and he is guided towards his role to help them save earth and Paradise.

A.K. Asif has created a future world where zealots are in abundance and their actions can have detrimental effects all over the world. The visualization of a war affected country is perfect and so is the characterization. Our Hero is a non-believer whose views are shattered as he crosses hell on his way to Paradise. Ismael has his own limitations and weaknesses and the author has done a commendable job in not making him a perfect man. The story is good, moves quickly and you will be sucked in right from the start. But, towards the end, the story becomes a little convoluted. I felt that the climax could have been written in a better way. Apart from that, it’s a good weekend read.

 

My rating: 3/5

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Book Review Books

Book Review: The Wonderling

A wonder fox in a wonderful world, though he has no idea how wonderful the world can be. Mira Bartok’s The Wonderling is about a foundling who lives in an orphanage that believes in stomping on the orphaned, ill-lucked creatures. Foundlings are creatures who are neither animals, nor humans. They are somewhere in between giving them a peculiar look. They look like animals but speak like humans and such is the time that the humans fear these groundlings and have rules for them. Our hero, The Wonderling is an orphan at Miss Carbunkle’s Home for Wayward and Misbegotten Creatures and named Number Thirteen. Miss Carbunkle is a torrid lady who only believes in torturing the groundlings, starves them and makes them work till they break their backs. But the one tortured the most is Number Thirteen who doesn’t even remember where he came from or who his parents were. And what’s more peculiar about him is that he has only one ear but unknown to anyone else, he can hear even far off sounds and understand the mice and rats. He then befriends Trinket, a bird groundling who also names him Arthur, after the brave king, and together they hatch a plan to run away from the Home and embark on an adventurous journey.

The book uses peculiarity with good and dark magic and quest for power as a perfect base and I was sucked into the world of Arthur right from the part where he is introduced as Number Thirteen. All through his life so far, he encounters this number at various stages and thinks that maybe he was bad luck himself. As a reader, you cannot be left unaffected by Arthur’s predicament.

This is a beautiful story and the author has created a wondrous fantasy world. This is a story of courage to face bullying, facing one’s fears and sticking up for friends and doing the right thing even in the face of adversity. It is a story of a groundling turning into The Wonderling and I thoroughly enjoyed the book.

My rating: 4.5/5

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Books

Book review: The Bear and the Nightingale

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“But seasons turn and seasons change

The Wind blows from the south

The fires cone, the storms, the spears

The sorrow and the dark”

The caption of the novel says ‘Beware the evil in the woods’ and aptly so. Katherine Arden’s story, The Bear and the Nightingale is based on the Russian fairy tale of the frost-demon, the winter-king Karachun or better known as Morozko, the demon of winter. When the story starts, Pyotr Vladimirovich’s household is a happy one with his wife, four children and an old nurse, Dunya. But by the time winter comes, his wife Marina has died in childbirth leaving a daughter, Vasilisa, fondly called Vasya, in Pyotr and Dunya’s arms making them promise to protect her.

Vasilisa grows up to be a brash girl with no inclination towards household works and a penchant for horse riding and weapons. While she struggles with the fixed roles of women in the society, she also feels the presence of magical creatures around her. With time, her father remarries and Vasya’s stepmother can also see the creatures but she thinks of them as demons and is always scared. The creatures or the house sprites protect the houses and animals from the dead. Soon after Pyotr remarries, a new priest comes to the village, Father Konstantin and he is waylaid by a demonic power and he forbids the people from feeding the sprites thereby weakening the protection around them. And the dead attack along with the Bear and it is left upon Vasya to fight them alone with her stepmother and Father Konstantin hindering her path at every step.

Set in medieval Russia the book is full of magic and mystery. The characters are brilliantly developed and the fantastical world will have you crave for more. The book will hold on to you from the first page to the last leaving you enchanted. I can’t wait for the next book in the series to reach me for I want to dive into Katherine Arden’s magical world once again.

My rating: 5/5