Genre : Fantasy, Magic
Audience: Mature (18+)
Type : Series (Book 1)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Buy Online: Flipkart, Amazon
An incredibly intense fantasy story that is partly coming-of-age and partly magic. It has everything – adventure, thrill, mystery and a beautiful romance.
I loved this book from the first page. I just knew that any book that begins with a nice map was going to be an epic read. And I was right!
This book has all the making of the first book in a series –
1) introduces characters
2) keeps the background of characters a secret (to be revealed in book 2 and 3)
3) sets up the pre-war scenario
4) raises more questions than answers (again, to be revealed in book 2 and 3)
5) has humor
This was not an easy read. I had to plough through chapters that spoke of some terrible things. It was definitely for mature audiences. The plot kept me at the edge of my seat because it had many unexpected and unpredictable twists. The pacing was a slow-burn. It took its own time to set-up events and introduce characters. I loved the characters especially Carlin and Barty whose characters were developed without even their presence. If that isn’t good writing then I don’t know what is! The story carried an excellent narrative that (despite its slow pace) didn’t bore me at all. There was enough history, background and mystery to keep me engaged.
My Reading Experience:
Things I liked about the book –
1) The chemistry between Mace and Kelsea
2) The mysterious magic
3) Kelsea’s humour
4) Badass heroine
5) Badass heroine’s love for books
6) Treason (what good is a royal story without treason?)
I would say that after reading the likes of Harry Potter and The Kingkiller Chronicles, I was starved for some good magic fantasy series that isn’t fully YA and The Queen of Tearling was the perfect answer.
The Queen of The Tearling was like taking the first bite of home food after being away for so long. It satiated my hunger of magic, fantasy, historical fiction, medieval times and royalty.
Emma Watson has agreed to do a film series of the same name!! She said this back in 2013. The movie is still under works and I’m hoping it will come out soon. See what she said about this series (I couldn’t agree more)
I can’t even begin to tell you how much this book plagiarized The Hunger Games – the unwilling girl selected at ‘random’ from different castes; the girl doing this for the family’s sake so that they can have a little more money; the love interest back at home and the royal love interest; the love triangle; the interviews, and the attention to the dress!
I can’t even. No.
All this book is a pretty cover to look at. Just as shallow as the vicera. I can truly say that the enchanting book cover is all there is to it and I would much rather look at the pretty covers for hours than read another installment of The Selection.
It was such a mistake to pick this up. It’s not at all what I like to read.
Sorry The Selection fans, I am going to pass.
I’m just happy to have read this book. It has been an honor to read Tolkein’s work. An incredible journey of Bilbo Baggins, the Hobbit and the thirteen dwarves. There can be no greater pleasure than to just read one of the best literary works.
White Teeth is the story of three families – the Jones, the Iqbals and the Chalfens – in post war England. And my, what a story they each have to tell! Overall review:
As a reader, you have to give this book some time. It is a slow, SLOW read, but trust me, it gets better.
You see, when I was reading White Teeth, I didn’t feel like reading any other book. It felt like I was somehow cheating on this incredible book somehow, and some part of me was also afraid that Alsana was going to jump out of the pages and scold me. Yes, it was that gripping. And I was completely invested in this tale for as long as I read it.
The book starts off with the first generation Jones and the Iqbals and how they come to be good family friends. In the first few chapters, the narrative of Mr.Archie Jones is – how do I put this – quite bland. It was really boring, much like the English with their stoic faces and stiff upper lips. I can understand how many readers would fall off at this point.
Somehow, I persisted. And boy, am I glad that I did. As we read about their lives, we begin to understand the real problems of immigrants from the Iqbals’ POV. Samad Iqbal! You wacky, sonorous, proud but dirty fascist! Oh, don’t look at me like that. If you read his story, you would say the same of him too. What I loved about White Teeth is that, the entire voice of the book changed when it switched from Archie’s to Iqbal’s narrative. Suddenly, the lines were alive and animated. The parts with Alsana and Iqbal are truly rib-tickling. I could almost recite word for word what Alsana would say. This husband-wife duo were one of the most realistic couples that I’ve ever read.
Some of the laugh-worthy moments are in the beginning of Samad’s narrative. Although I appreciate the heavy dose of humor, I felt like the novel housed all possible jokes on Indians/English. Sometimes, even at the expense of the progress of the story.
Speaking of humor, it was so readily available. The setting was already there. The jokes are already there. All Zadie has to do was juxtapose of the two different worlds of the ruddy English and the grovelling Bangladeshis, to create comedy. Zadie did an excellent job. Her understanding of the many cultures and the human equations in each culture is extraordinary.
The story was forever branching out into distant arcs, anecdotes and facts. But it was fun. It kept me engaged. Zadie, the storyteller, also knew how to bring the reader’s focus back. So that was good.
The thing about White Teeth though, is that there is no real plot. It’s only an account of the lives of the two families in London. It was a fresh take on modern novels. I was growing tired of cliffhangers and villains who threatened to destroy the world. This novel is such a humble hat tip to Dickens and his like. I always love stories which have humor at their heart. In this story, there are so many complications and terrible things that happen to the characters, but Zadie found the funniest perspective in all of them. Kudos!
I expected more out of Irie because of the mix up in her genes. A great combination of fire and ice in the half-jamaican and half-British girl. But she was a major disappointment. Irie could’ve been much more. I wonder why Zadie didn’t do anything there. Character-wise, Samad stole the show for me. Followed by Alsana. Incredible house wife portrayal.
Overall, White Teeth feels like an unhurried story that goes into many details. A story we can sit and read for days at leisure. A languid slice-of-life tale that helped me understand fascism from the grassroots level.
The best part about white teeth is that there is no plot per se but you will want to keep reading chapter after chapter to find out what is happening. Kinda like what you’d have in classics like Jane Austen’s or Charles Dickens’ works. So rare to see such work in post modern times where authors use cliffhangers like condoms. Way to go Zadie! Well deserved debut novel award.
Humorous, Witty and Entertaining. I couldn’t ask for anything more from the dark-humor loving storytellers. I feel honored to have read a book that two incredible writers have penned together. I will go ahead and say that this book deserves to be on the shelves on all those who consider librarians and book enthusiasts.
It has been a long-pending dream of mine to get a tattoo. I don’t know what came over me, but I made a decision to ‘gift’ myself a tattoo for my 25th! Something that I never thought I’d do, so….impromptu. In fact, I still check my wrist every few minutes to check if I’ve really done it.
Getting my first ink was such a great experience. It took months of planning but the actual process got over in a flash. That left me with so much disbelief, yet a sense of accomplishment.
I got mine at this cute little parlor, Dragon Eye Tattoo at Saibaba Colony, Coimbatore. Why I refer to a tattoo parlor called ‘Dragon Eye’ cute, is a story for another day. But it’s got something to do with the tattoo lady there (who goes by the name of Shree) and her most affable and humorous nature. The lack of substance abuse and burly dudes at the place, contributed a little too.
These are the highlights of the whole experience. There are some tips for those of you who are looking to get your first (or whatever number-ed) tattoo.
Before settling for one design, I crossed out soooo many options. I took nearly 3 months deciding back and forth on what I wanted. Finally, I fixed my design a mere two days before the D-day! I like to wing it that way. Otherwise, I’d forever be ‘deciding’. I’d never come to a conclusion.
My number one advice is to take time to think of your design carefully. But when you’re close to the tattoo day, just go with your instinct.
It is not easy coming up with a tattoo design, I tell you. Imagine if we were given the choice to decide what shape of eyes, nose and hair-type we want to live with the rest of our lives. (I can hear some of you go, “I know exactly what I want.” Trust me, you don’t. Us humans, we function on envy. We ride our whole lives on a jealous-scale. We don’t ‘know’ what we want. We get something, then make comparisons with others’ somethings and complain about ours.)
Choosing an ink-pattern was just as difficult as choosing a permanent facial feature. I stumbled upon crown tattoos while stalking Pinterest profiles.”Shravs”, I said to myself, “Don’t you like the idea of a crown to remind you of grace, pride, patience and character?” And the idea stuck.
I considered this Celtic crown design. Briefly. I really liked the details, the curves and the Celtic knots. It had a touch of royalty and raw tribalness. As you can see, my brilliant artistic skills helped me decide the placement.
At the last minute, I threw out the idea because of its complexity and settled on this British crown instead.
And after many, many scribbles and trials…
I was finally able to pick one that I liked.
The excruciating part was over. Yep, the choosing part was the most difficult. The actual act of having a needle dig into your skin, was surprisingly, not painful at all.
Pain level (for girls): Greater than waxing but lesser than upper lip hair removal.
Pain level (for guys): More painful than holding in a fart, less painful than a wedgie (hopefully)
Shree was super cool and super calm about the whole thing. She looked at my design, made some tiny changes and got the stencil ready. Once she got to work, time flew. Hardly 15 minutes in, and she was adding the final touches.
There we are showing off. Not the double chins, the tattoo.
Immediately after tattooing, your skin is going to be raw. The first 24 hours are most crucial. When the tattoo artist says, “No water, no touching and no soap”, it strictly means no to all three. The first few hours of care will grandly decide how your tattoo will turn out and it’s life.
Mine was reddish around the whole area. I used up nearly half of the ointment within the first few hours.
In a couple of hours and dozens of ointment applications later, the swelling and redness reduced. The skin was still rough. Touching or scratching with nails was still a No-No.
The skin around the ink looked like a welt. This lasted nearly 4 hours.
I was told there would be itching and skin peeling. It was the morning after and there were still no signs of any skin flaking. But there was a tiny bit of itching. Every time I had the inclination to scratch, I had to distract myself, preferably with a Jon Snow poster, long enough for that urge to die down.
I’m not going to lie to you. Sleeping and showering were a pain. This was the day I found out that my left hand alone could bend in 46 different orientations while I slept and that placing the hot shower tap on the right side is HUGE mistake.
Anyway, by day 2 with my incredible nurturing and loving affection, the tattoo’s blush had gone down so much. I gave it slight touch-ups every two hours. Sometimes the excess ink would come off, sometimes there was nothing. My only aim was to keep it well-oiled for the next 48 hours.
Here’s how it looked by the end of day 2.
Day 3 and counting
I’m just one sleepless night short of giving my tattoo a nickname (how does Princess Blush’ sound?) It’s been a couple of days now and the ointment is over. My redness and swelling have all gone down. It itches occasionally. I’m able to touch the area without experiencing any harshness. The inked area still feels rough, as if it were sandpaper. Hopefully all this coconut oil should help smooth it and replenish my skin.
Oh, and yeah, this tattoo came at 1500 (plus taxes) bucks for 2 square inches. Pretty economical, I’d say. Job well done.
This has been the easiest item off my bucket list ever!
If you answered, “Hmm…not my cup of tea”, then this post is for you.
A lot of my friends come up to me and say “Shravs, how do you read all those big books? I fall asleep as soon as I open them But, I want to read like you, tell me na?”
This post is in response to those dear friends of mine, who have a reader inside them. But unfortunately, that ‘reader’ is unable to fight the battle of drowsiness against the mighty ‘sleeper’. This post is for both novice readers and wanna-be readers and will give you some ideas on how to make reading more fun.
Right. So, how can we make this reading-thing more enjoyable so that you can actively start reading?
Since we internet-folks are raving about listicles, here is my own listicle on this topic.
1) Find a buddy
Umm… you thought reading was a solitary-confinement punishment? Time to rethink.
Reading can be as vibrant and bubbly as any other hangout. You go to the movies with your friends. You go to restaurants with them. You travel with your gang. You bring your posse everywhere. Why not read with your friends?
I’ll give you an instance: when my friend and I were reading the Chronicles of Narnia, we had crushes 😉 on different characters. She liked Peter and I thought Prince Caspian was way hotter. So, we would spend a lot of time discussing them, debating over how one was braver than the other, who was more likely to be King, who fights better, etc.
Reading about heroes suddenly became a lot more interesting for us. So find a buddy, who will read with you. It’s fun, I promise.
2) Read a series
Always find a good series that can keep you hooked on till the end.
The thing with series is that, you just cannot.stop.with.one.book. Anybody who wants to find out the climax has to read through all the books and attain it.
And it’s worth it too.
Reading a series is like running a marathon. When you finish both, you have a sense of fulfillment that compares with nothing else.
Authors like Rick Riordan, Philip Pullman and J.K.Rowling, have a knack of placing a cliffhanger in the very last paragraph. A few well-crafted lines will convert even a ‘casual reader’ into‘avid fan’.
Although, I must warn you that if you start an unfinished series, you are in for some loooong waits. I’m warning you.
3) Read a well-designed/ illustrated book
Because, if you are not reading a well-designed book, you are making the worst of the rookie mistakes of them all.
As far as I know, the main reason many of us refuse to touch huge books is that we are not comfortable with the endless masses of paragraphs. It’s intimidating, I know. The tiny font, the tight binding and poor paper quality are all factors in a Bibliophobia.
I admit it. Books that were printed in the early 90’s (the golden age for us strange and weird creatures who are at the intersection of millennials and bookworms) weren’t that pleasant to our eyes. I remember straining to read difficult font. I’d even have to bend the book backwards (gasp!) to read the tricky paragraph edges.
But, times have changed. Publishers are moving towards a better design approach. Everything including the font, height of the page, margins of the text, binding and spine, and paper quality have changed.
Throw in illustrations and BHAM! A completely new look-and-feel to your novel. Find them and make them yours. With all these operational difficulties stripped away, your job is made simpler and instantly entertaining.
P.S. If you think these books are for children, then I really pity you.
4) Listen, don’t read
No, Listen. Read. But, don’t read, just listen.
Let’s try that again. Listen to audiobooks. Clear?
Audiobooks are an excellent way to begin your reading journey. We’ve been tuned since childhood to listen intently. Keen listening has helped us identify our mom’s footsteps up the stairs, or an approaching teacher. An ability that we have sharpened over the years. We can put that to use.
Also, unlike our eyes, our ears never get tired.
With audiobooks we get a dramatised version of the book. Most voice over artists try to bring in variance in the modulation and intonation of different characters. It makes for very interesting ‘reading’. Audiobooks remove the logistical complications of the real thing – you can listen to them on your commute, just before dozing off, while on the phone pretending to listen to your bae – just shooting ideas here.
Plus, audiobooks are hands-free and discrete. Say, you want to read your favourite erotica. But you can’t read it in public spaces, obviously. Now, you can just plug in and listen to the rousing dialogues. Cashhhhual.
If you are an artist, you can always incorporate that into your reading ritual. Draw or sing or dance a scene from the book. Make it interactive. It doesn’t always have to be the book speaking to you. You could predict the scenes, develop a sub-plot, add a dance routine to the main character’s daily grind – anything goes. Make it interactive.
It doesn’t always have to be the book speaking to you. See what you can give back to the book.
Innumerable fan arts, fan fictions and cosplays exist. They bring fans closer. People are interpreting stories in their own way and are giving back to the (fictional) universe. Basically, yeah, I’m asking you to geek out 😛 If you want to read, be prepared to become a geek.
6) Try an ebook
I could be the only bookworm on the internet who spreads the ebook propaganda. This is really a last ditch attempt to trick your brain into thinking you’re consuming media, a form of entertainment that you are used to. The act of reading ebooks secretes dopamine, serotonins and bullshits in your brain. (Seriously, I despise ebooks)
But, I wouldn’t discount them. If they can get your juices flowing, then hey, good for you.
Ebooks have some very real advantages. Reading difficult words isn’t cumbersome. You don’t have to stop reading to pick up a dictionary. Bye, bye bulky dictionaries. Hello, sexy technology. You can even share your favourite lines instantly on social media, tricking your friends into thinking you’re an intellectual.
Facebook got us clicking our selfies by re-introducing the simple thumbs-up. I wonder if sharing book quotes on twitter can get you the same self-love and prompt you into reading?
Those are all my tips to make reading more fun. Okay, maybe the last one was a little too much. Sorry about that.
I hope that all nascent readers out there get back into full-fledged reading soon. I know most of these apply to fiction. It’s what I like. Let me know if you guys have any way of making non-ficti-yaaawn more interesting.
Whoever said ‘Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life’, clearly didn’t know his coffee from his lighter fluid. Just like how love is not enough for successful marriages, being passionate about your work is not enough for a successful career. Shocker! Success demands passion that encompasses perseverance and constant learning. That takes a lot of work and effort (and is a mouthful).
At Mypromovideos, we are passionate about telling stories. And in our efforts to keep that passion burning, we come up with activities in the studio, every now and then. On the serious side, we have organized debates, courses, and presentations. On the fun side, we have had games and frolics, cook-outs and movies screenings. We squeezed in these ‘sprint’ activities between regular ‘marathon’ projects and managed not to get dehydrated in the process.
Here you can find the choicest picks from our activities in the last few months (don’t worry, we keep the violent stuff behind closed doors). Check them out.
Animation for Dummies:
Every time I watch my script come alive during the animation stage, I feel two things simultaneously – satisfaction and pride in seeing the fruition of my labour and a pang of disappointment that I can’t animate my script.
Writers, Illustrators or Creative Directors, everybody had faced the same problem at least once before. We decided to change that. Animation would no longer be the mysterious, Area-51 territory. Whoever finds animation interesting can join the bootcamp, learn the basics and sharpen their skills. The gates were thrown open.
Equipped with Flash and blind guts we stepped into it. There was a strong back-to-college vibe every time an assignment was given. Once a week, we would meet and peer review our animated videos. We would critique them based on the 12 principles, creativity, and execution. Soon enough, with practice, we were able to speak the language of animation, understand how the principles were interwoven and even learn some nifty shortcuts!
It’s been two months now. In these 8 sessions, we’ve learnt how to animate a bouncing ball, a pendulum, a flying bird and many other exciting things.
Art vs Design:
Yep. We did it. We got into the great debate of the Titans.
On the red team, we had the Legend, the renaissance-revolutionary – Art. And on the blue team, challenging Art, was the latest, the leanest and the meanest – Design.
We gathered around the table, feeling frisky and ready to put the two to a spirited challenge. We pitted Art against Design in various categories: Purpose, Aesthetics, Influence, Skills and Lucidity. Things got heated up pretty quick and then the real fight was on! Questions were fired from every direction and one question in particular, the big daddy of them all, ‘Can Design exist without Art?’, got the two groups arguing over the origins of design for a long time.
We learnt a whole deal that day. And we also understood that, as an animation studio, we can’t lean on one side too much. We were the bridge that connected inspirational art to intelligent design.
What’s the dullest part of a work week? Saturday afternoon. What better way to spice it up than a matinee show, right here at the studio?
Pixar’s shorts are a treasure trove. They are packed with treats that can inspire artists, writers and animators for at least another decade. All of us were left with goose skin after watching this iconic short. We watched many international films which were revelations to us. Studio Ghibli’s ‘My Neighbour Totoro’ used animation in its most natural form to tell children’s stories. ‘Fears of the Dark’ was one of the first movies in which we experienced animated film noir. We imbibed many things from the movies we screened: variety and richness of the visuals, international movie-making styles, character mannerisms, lighting, humor, and other storytelling techniques.
All of us would look forward to that Saturday and finish the day’s work by noon. Soon as lunch is done, we would kick back and relax with a movie, and let the subconscious mind do its thing. We are sure that the things we’ve absorbed and the inspirations we have taken, will subconsciously trickle out in our future work. We have exposed ourselves to so much of this ‘gamma rays’ of animation movies that you shouldn’t be surprised if one day, we emerge as a gigantic, green, invulnerable superhero.
It was the time when protests against the ban on Jallikattu were making the rounds in the news. As a media house and animal lovers we couldn’t let this slip by while we remained silent. So…
One hour. 7 teams. Brilliant ideas.
We got everyone from the project manager to the sales team involved, because you never know what brilliant ideas are hiding in their minds. Sure enough, they came out with some funky concepts and interesting designs. All but one of the entries were against the ban. Not surprisingly, that one team had a beef lover who had turned bitter. To each his own, I guess. By the end of the hour, the winning entry was chosen. Tell me if that poster didn’t send shivers down your spine. You can also check out the other top poster designs here and here.
There are at least a dozen other activities – treasure hunt, cooking competitions, random discussions on feminism, ice-cream outings, word games, Dumb charades, jungle trips – which if I start ranting about I’d never stop.
Activities like this are like our lifeline. Working on projects on a regular schedule can take a toll on your creative side. Deadlines, fixing errors, and production processes take priority on a daily basis. Every now and then it’s good to let our mind monkeys loose. Who knows where they’ll find a wild, succulent banana (in case it isn’t clear already, the banana is a metaphor for an idea). An office culture should make room for these vent-outs. It helps generate new bana…erm..ideas, un-glues people from Facebook and gives the monkeys a refreshing break. And in the end, without even knowing it, you’d have gained a lot of knowledge.
Image credits: Antony John
This blog was originally published here.
Branded content is the actor who gets up on stage just to perform – true to her art and true to her audience. She stands out from other fellow actors whose stage acts are cloyingly fake. While other advertising strategies constantly try to convince you of their worth, she’s the passionate one who enjoys her art. She’s not trying to sell anything. The audience is not forced to buy, consult, click, call, respond or take action immediately. They can leisurely contemplate her act and appreciate it in their own time. If they like her performance, they can share it with friends. And if she does a good job, people remember her performance.
Branded content is content in any form that companies create to build brand awareness, improve recall and create a positive brand image. It can be on print, TVC’s, movies or reality shows. But predominantly, they are videos, specifically on various social media platforms.
It employs a reverse marketing method that begins with what brands are made up of – the stories of people.
What stories are people telling each other ? What kinds of videos are people watching online? What connects emotionally with people? What type of content do people enjoy and come back to? What do they often talk about? What are they sharing? What cause do they want to be part of? These questions are research points that form the foundation for this marketing strategy. Once you get this blueprint done, then you figure out a creative way to fit your brand into their stories.
With a blueprint like that, brands can build massive pyramids.
How is it different from Traditional advertising?
Clocks in more:
Permanent Roommates Season 1 had CommonFloor as its Brand Partner. It was an instant hit back in 2014 when the first episode was launched on YouTube. It garnered 12 million views for all five episodes of Season 1. Now, The Viral Fever (TVF) has started Season 2 in association with Ola Cabs.
Did you note that the episode length increased double fold by the end of the series? S1E1 was 14 minutes long. But the final episode was 37 minutes long. In S2, every episode averages at 52 minutes!
Brands in association with successful web series have two advantages: a) They get a large block of time from their audience b) They create expectations in the minds of their viewers.
Unlike traditional marketing, brand integrations don’t even mention the features or benefits of the product. They simply entertain the audience.
Look at the number of views on that video!
We are presented with the story of the fastest man alive. Folks at Gatorade have not called attention to their product, except for a brief five seconds. This is Usain’s story. This is a story for the fans of Usain. This story is for achievers and champions-to-be.
The key takeaway is – Gatorade understood their target market right.
So, who are the targets?
Everybody. No, seriously! The whole world can be your audience, if your content is good enough.
Yet, we see brands choosing their target segment very carefully. They find overlaps in their target segments and those of existing popular content creators and draw up a partnership. Collaboration is a great way to get a variety into your content marketing. Take for instance, this video by AIB: An ode to the woman who trudges along on her ‘Walk of Shame’, presented by Truly Madly.
Truly Madly figured out that the majority of their targets were youngsters who would also be fans of AIB. As a viewer, the familiarity of one brand (AIB) is subconsciously connected to the other (Truly Madly) when you take in content that you enjoy. That’s what I’d call a WIN-WIN game.
Branded content gives you powerful and extensive reach.
What are its advantages ?
Back to the stage performance. It is evident that the performer who loves her art is loved by her audience.
Branded content is your company’s way of showcasing your art.
It tells people you care deeply about some cause, that you are passionate about things, that you are not always looking to make big bucks. It gives people a reason to google you and seek you out.