Caraval by Stephanie Garber : A review

Caraval (Caraval, #1)Caraval by Stephanie Garber
My rating: 3 of 5 stars ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Buy Online : Flipkart , Amazon

Writing these 3-star reviews is just awful. One has to give enough reasons for both liking it and not liking it – thus leaving the review balanced. Let me see if I can do justice here. 

Caraval – I’m assuming it is a portmanteau of Caravan and Carnival – is a spooky, Halloweeny novel about Scarlet who has to play a dangerous game and win if she has to recover her most dear treasure that has been taken from her. The novel works very well to spook me and create the sense of mystery to pull me in from the beginning.

CHARACTERS:
SCARLET & JULIAN 

I liked the overall plot a lot. No complains there. As a story, it was carried well with really good plot twists and edge-of-the-seat scenes. But my main gripe is about the main characters – Scarlet and Julian. Mostly Scarlet because she was this typical self-hating heroine who’s unsure of her feelings and is afraid to talk about them. I really do not want to waste time talking about her. It’s wrong and that’s all I’m saying. Julian was marginally better with some mystery behind his actions but even that air of suspense was lost on me after he started behaving like a love-stricken idiot repeating the same thing over and over again for the second half of the story.

LEGEND 
The invisible man who runs the Caraval is intriguing. His nature, backstory and actions are sprinkled throughout the story and by the time you reach the climax of Caraval, you end up shocked to discover his identity! Don’t worry, I haven’t ruined anything for you. The Legend character is Sherlockesque and is a treat for mystery-lovers. When you think that you know him, he surprises you. There is always something new to discover about him. Very well-done!

OTHER CHARACTERS 
The weird part is even if the main characters were ruined for me, the other secondary characters stood out. Like the Dad, Governor Dragna for example. He was a vile creature. Horrible and Despicable. That was beautiful characterisation, making me hate him instantly. I think when the second book comes out, he has a scope for redemption for his misdeeds. Let’s see.

Aiko’s role was perfection! Even the tiny roles played by girl on the unicycle, the boy with the wings etc. who I honestly thought were monsters-in-disguise for a while, are all noteworthy characters whom I liked a lot. They really got me worked-up and wiping sweat off my brow when they appeared. I hope to see more of them in future books.

THE SETTING 
The most enjoyable aspect of the novel was the spookiness and the macabre tone which is present from start to finish. It’s great! I really liked the setting. Kind of like a bigger version of Hotel California where one can check in but cannot get out alive!

I found myself wondering what would happen if one loses this game. Would a monstrous dark, dank maw swallow you? Will you be driven mad from the illusions and hallucinations? Will you become a ghost haunting the Caraval forever? That’s some good storytelling and I hope to get some clearer answers in the next book of the series.

THE HORRIFIC ROMANCE
Yes, I said it. The romance in Caraval was terrible. It was horrific. I couldn’t tolerate it. It was inappropriate in the sense that it happened at the most unlikely scenarios and had bad timing. Terrible timing actually. It made me squirm with discomfort and it ended up being the irritating lovey-dovey portion that I skipped.


In conclusion, Caraval wasn’t a memorable story, but I will definitely read the next book for the Legend character. I expect to see more spooky and less romance.

Goodreads review >> here

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The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern: A review

The Night CircusThe Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
My rating: 3 of 5 stars ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

So I heard all the hoopla about Caraval and how it is very similar to the 2011 magi-realism story set in the late 19th century fantasy London.

I’m talking about ‘The Night Circus’ by Erin Morgenstern. Obviously, I had to read this before I got to Caraval.

The story is about this girl and boy fated to fight each other in a magical duel till there is only one of them left standing. The night circus is their arena where they perform tricks and illusions to beat the other. But things get really messy when the two fall in love and the fate of the circus and their lives are at stake.

The novel is dreamlike and whimsical. The storytelling is truly unique and for the first time in a long while made me very keen about the author’s writing style. The imagery in the chapters is also vivid for those who love descriptions and the characters are beautifully grey – moral ambiguity for the win!

I think every fantasy reader should definitely read this book because it has managed to push our imaginations to another level.

Goodreads review >> http://bit.ly/2kHdyE8

P.S. What a beautiful picture!!  Kudos to the artist! I hope an illustrated version of this book comes out soon 

The Invasion of the Tearling [The Queen of Tearling #2] by Erika Johansen – A review

The Invasion of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling, #2)The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

Genre : Fantasy, Magic
Audience: Mature (18+)
Type : Series (Book 2)
My rating: 3 of 5 stars ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Buy Online: Amazon

A coming-of-age novel and the second book of the series, The Queen of Tearling is an arduous read with a payoff in the end.

This story picks off from the conclusion of the first novel, telling us the story of Kaelsea and her entourage.

We get more of the Tearling and some in-depth character development of all the main players. We learn about who’s who; their back stories, deepest, darkest secrets and their vices.

The tone of the book is slightly dark and gory. It has some 18+ scenes that I did not enjoy. The savagery, the blood and gore are crucial to the story, but I found myself retching at them.

Reading Progress Invasion of the Tearling

The pacing was slower than book 1 (The Queen of Tearling). Throughout the book I was urging the story to move on and accelerate. Sometimes I even shook my fists with frustration at the author, asking her to get on with it, because I had too many questions that needed answers.

Who is her father ?
What happened to lily ?
Why are Lily and Kelsea connected ?
How are they connected ?
How is the Red Queen related to all this ?
What do the sapphires actually do ?
Where is the Fetch and what is his background ?
How about Mace and Thorne? Will Kelsea ever be a good queen ?
Was her mother truly her mother at all ?

So many questions !

I was completely invested in the characters. Superb characterization, I’ll give it to her. The people like Mace, Thorne, Arliss and Finn are well done and portrayed so well.

My adoration of the characters comes to a halt at the protagonist. I can hardly understand her. Sometimes she does stupid things. Sometimes she does really brave things. I had an image of Kelsea in the first book that totally blew me. She was the brave, strong, courageous girl who was given the Queenship of Tearling and the terrible responsibility of redeeming her mother and saving the people from the evil Red Queen. What happened to her now ? 🙁 What will she do in the future? (Guess I’ll find out in book 3)

Overall, the story is slow to pickup and doesn’t make sense half the time. There is a secondary story arc that catpults you to somewhere entirely different from The Tearling and makes you wonder if you are in fact reading the same novel. But, let me tell you, it all ties up in the end. The pacing picks up rapidly after 70% and you’ll be at the edge of your seat wishing for more than two eyes so you can read faster.

A fantastic story (albeit verbose) that will thrill you, entertain you and captivate you.

P.S. For those of you interested, here’s the review of book 1 >> http://bit.ly/2qdTBFL

The Trials of Apollo [The Hidden Oracle #1] by Rick Riordan: A review

The Trials of Apollo, Book One: The Hidden OracleThe Trials of Apollo, Book One: The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
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Buy Online: Flipkart, Amazon

 

 

 

Okay, so this wasn’t a great book by Rick Riordan’s standards.

I didn’t have any expectations for this story from the beginning, because the god Apollo didn’t excite me very much. I was right. Apollo’s narcissism put me off completely. I would have enjoyed it for less than 40 pages before I grew tired of it. And to think that this goes on and on and on for the entire book! Seeshsh!!

  • To be honest, I didn’t like the plot that much either. ‘The world is under threat and Apollo and friends are the only ones who can save it‘, is really not such a great plot point, after we have seen Percy Jackson and Jason Grace do literally the same thing over and over again.
  • There weren’t many creatures from the Greek mythology, which was a huge disappointment.
  • Apart from Meg, none of the characters stood out for me (Apollo was an overdose).
  • The humor was really good in some portions but it didn’t carry the story, it felt like a laughter track introduced as an afterthought.

Looks like the only, ONLY reason I’d be reading the next book is because LEO will be in it!!

A story can’t be a great story if the protagonist puts me off and cameo characters (Percy and Leo) excite me more than the eponymous character (Apollo).

The Queen of The Tearling [Tearling #1] by Erika Johansen: A review

The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling, #1)The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
View all my Goodreads reviews

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

jennifer-lawrence-fangirling-whoalawrence

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:

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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)

queen

Poison by Bridget Zinn : A review

PoisonPoison by Bridget Zinn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
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First off I love , love , luuuuurvve the title. “Poison” I mean, that is such a strong title for a book and it was the very first thing that caught my attention about Bridget Zinn’s novel.

Not Poisoned but simply Poison like the book were not giving out clues as to whether someone is actually being poisoned or not.

The book cover itself is very enchanting. That’s what piqued my interest. As for the story, before I had gotten past the first few pages, I had imagined a setting, that was straight out of a fairytale-picture book. And the protogonist, Kyra became my bold,gutsy princess in my imagination. It was beautiful and was already becoming one of my favorites.

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The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman : A review

The Ocean at the End of the LaneThe Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars⭐ ⭐ ⭐
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Adults follow paths. Children explore.

This novel follows the thoughts,philosophy, fears and dreams of a seven year old. This nameless boy along with his only friend, Lettie Hempstock unintentionally bring back a nasty other-worldly creature that disguises itself as human to torment him.

On the outside, this is a children’s novel, but we find a lot of doctrines to reflect on. Age twists recollection; reality is skewered by time’s smokescreen.The book shows the volatile nature of memory.

“You’ll not get any two people to remember anything the same, whether they were there or not”

Neil Gaiman’s ability to spin fiction is brilliant. I was never bored. I was only left astounded by the end. The characters were charismatic, the Hempstock women especially make an impression on us for their wit and magic. Of course the timeline was muddled and I struggled towards the end to gauge if I was reading about the little boy or the grown-up.

I hear the Hempstock women make an appearance in other novels by Gaiman. Needless to say, I’m excited to read them !!

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss : A review

WOW!! What an amazing epic fantasy!

The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #1)The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
My rating: 5 of 5 stars:star: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
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It has all the elements – excellent storytelling, gripping storyline, engaging characters. I was hooked on from the Prologue.

The story is that of the making of a Magician, Kvothe – the vicissitudes of his life. How did one of the greatest magician’s end up in a meagre job as an Innkeeper? What drove him to his recluse?

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American Gods by Neil Gaiman : A review

American Gods (American Gods, #1)American Gods by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
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Madness.

That’s what this book is. I find this book close to Alice in Wonderland in terms of the twists, turns and wacky people that one cannot even begin to imagine. With all glory to the Mad Hatter, this book is not for children.

The book starts with Shadow’s release from jail.

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