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

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Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman: A review

Norse MythologyNorse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
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I love Neil Gaiman’s stories. In fact, I am crazy about his work. I have been waiting since December for the release of this novel. And when I finally got it, I devoured in a few hours. Here’s what I felt about the book.

Norse Mythology, is firstly an anthology of some of the well-known stories of the Norse Gods like Odin, Thor and Loki. My exposure to Norse Mythology was so far only restricted to what Marvel decided to show me. I knew of the mighty Thor in the skin of Chris Hemsworth and the handsome and sly Loki through Tom Hiddleston.

avengers20set20pic220thor20chris20hemsworth20loki20tom20hiddleston

This book is a journey of these characters – their origin, their adventures, their plays and finally, their end. The last chapter, Ragnarok, was truly exciting and filled with adrenaline rushes. It got me excited for Thor -Ragnarok.

Yet, something was missing.

Listening to Neil Gaiman’s narrations was a joy, as usual. He was brilliant as ever.

Yet, something was missing.

Loki, the ever mischievous and sly fox among the Gods played the role of ‘Narada Muni‘. Loki meddles in the business of the Gods and creates troubles for them. But, at the end of the day, it is Loki who saves them. I laughed out at his antics and his bashful-but-not-bashful smile. It seemed like Loki was the life and laughter of the otherwise grim Gods of the Norsemen.

Loki is an interesting character. I believe Marvel did perfect justice by choosing Tom Hiddleston to play the role of the God.

You resented him even when you were at your most grateful, and you were grateful to him even when you hated him the most.

Yet, something was missing.

Brutality is in the nature of the brave Vikings. When I think of Vikings, I think of the beefy men in their horned iron helmets and braided red beards; I think of pillaging, pub fights and raucous merriment. Norse Gods stay true to this description. Only a handful of them seem to possess brains in addition to brawns and even fewer of them seem to want knowledge. [Odin has to sacrifice an eye to drink from the Well of Wisdom and later, his life to understand Runes].

“The Norse myths are the myths of a chilly place, with long, long winter nights and endless summer days, myths of a people who did not entirely trust or even like their gods, although they respected and feared them.”

The Vikings valued bravery and brute strength, as displayed by Thor. This rowdy nature of the Gods endeared them to me.

Yet, something was missing.
The something missing is something that I can’t put my finger on. Maybe I’m refusing to put my finger on it because I love Neil Gaiman. 

NG narration

Norse Mythology felt like a book that anybody could have written with research. I was reminded that it was Neil Gaiman’s writing in very few instances of the book. A difference only an ardent NG fan will be able to discern, I’m sure. To the rest of the world, this is a collection of wonderful stories.

Never mind, I can assuage my gripes about the writing by listening to the audiobook. Neil Gaiman’s narration stands tall and unparalleled.

I was reminded of another similar book that I read recently. It was also an anthology; It also had stories from Mythology; It was written and intended for a much simpler audience. The Serpent’s Revenge: Unusual Tales from the Mahabharata

Sudha Murthy’s writing style is familiar to me. She has been writing stories for many years and her simple, effective words can affect the deepest parts of me. Simple but powerful. I’ve come to expect that of Sudha Murthy ji.

I wonder if Gaiman’s target was similar. Did he want to simplify and tell the stories without touching them with his trademark literary Midas touch?

To be honest, some stories were just plain boring. My least favorite one is the one that doesn’t have Loki in it – The Mead of Poetry. Odin was terribly dull in that one. Maybe, one long story would have done in the place of 15? I don’t know.

norse-mythology-reading-progress-1norse-mythology-reading-progress-2norse-mythology-reading-progress-3

I guess I wasn’t setting my expectations right.

The best way to go about reading Norse Mythology is to plunge into this book without expectations. Then your appetite for Norse Mythology will be whetted; But whether or not your Neil Gaiman starvation will get satiated is left to the individual. Personally, it wasn’t. When I finished the book, it felt like this wasn’t enough. I needed more.

I’d definitely add this to my library, but I’ll be reading this less as a bedtime story and more as a “wikipedia page” for reference.

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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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

Pizza for a place in the heart

I sat there in the traffic watching the red numbers on the traffic lights count down.

125..124..123…

The latest song hummed in a slow buzz, while I drummed my fingers lazily on the steering wheel. And bored as I was, I checked my phone:

A: wru?

B: On the way. will reach dominos in 10 mins.

C: Me too!

Me: stuck in traffic… 😦 will be late guys

After sending that text, I casually flung my phone on the passenger’s seat and glanced up.

A man came up to my car. A beggar. Around 60 years old.

His black and (mostly) white hair was in clumps. It was clear he hadn’t washed it in days. He had stubbly beard that had grown out. His last shave must have been three or four days ago. His frame was not-too-haggard; it seemed like he was in good health, but right now he was ravenous. That much was apparent.

The checked shirt and the lungi he wore fit him perfectly. I could see that they weren’t hand-me-downs. So, this man was wearing clothes he owned, was healthy in general, but somehow, right now he couldn’t afford a meal.

I wondered what poor fate had befallen him.

Surely, he can’t have been in this dilapidated state for long.

I got the strong feeling of a middle-class businessman who had a family back home. A family he could no longer go back to, because he wasn’t welcome.

My guts told me that this was a man who had been shunned from his own house.

He reminded me of my dad. My late dad.

Of course, all this was in my head. MY JUDGMENTS.

I opened my window slightly, and looked at him closely. His eyes — oh god the eyes — were shouting out for help.

I asked him, “Are you hungry?”

He nodded.

“Do you want to have pizza?”

He nodded hopefully.

I once again picked up my phone to send one instant message:

Me: U guys carry on. Can’t make it today.

It wasn’t too late to change things between me and my dad.


The ending is open to interpretation. Maybe the driver connected with the beggar and found a father figure in him. Or maybe she sought redemption for doing all the mean things she did to her own father. Or simply, an act of kindness.

This piece is a work of fiction based off my daily experience. I never talk to people on the streets. I admit, I’m scared. I’m terrified of the creeps who come in all shapes and sizes.

But that never stopped me from wondering what would happen if I decided to take them out to eat and had a heart-to-heart conversation with them.

Translation:

lungi — a one-piece loose garment, tied around a man’s waist.

Room by Emma Donoghue: A review

RoomRoom by Emma Donoghue
My rating: 4 of 5 stars⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
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Jack is five. He lives in a single, locked room with his Ma.

This blurb should tell you what the premise is. Note the present tense used.

In the beginning, for the first hundred pages, all we get is the frame-by-frame, second-by-second relay of things that Jack and Ma do in their time in Room.

How they brush their teeth, what they eat for breakfast, what time they eat lunch, how many teeth Jack has etc. And these things happen over and over again, and we readers are exposed to every second of it.

It gets tiresome.

Linearity without any relief like change of scenes, or change in Point-of-view is laborious. But it is in line with the theme here : holed-up one-roomedness.

It is claustrophobic for me. 

Ironically, it is the entirety of Jack’s world. 

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The Subtle Knife [His Dark Materials #2] by Philip Pullman: A review

The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, #2)The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
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Clearly I was misinformed. Or I chose to judge the book by its predecessor.

Do you feel otherwise? Let me know here:

I was so wrong. If you read my review on the first book of the series, The Golden Compass, you’d find me cribbing about the tiny details that were missing in the book.

Gosh, I didn’t know I’d find the answers to most of them here, in the second installment.

I picked this book up, only for filling in the answers. But I found much more than just answers. A bigger plot, a bigger concept, a bigger enemy and a bigger war.

This is what I felt while I was reading that book!

The Subtle Knife Reading Progress

So, for the gist – Lyra is joined by young Will in a third world, a world other than the two worlds each of them hails from. There are multiple worlds stitched together, existing in parallel, where time and space mean nothing. Lyra and Will have their own destinies to fulfill. They wander back and forth between the worlds and discover people of power, things of power.

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Scion of Ikshvaku (Ram Chandra series #1) by Amish Tripathi : A review

Scion of Ikshvaku (Ram Chandra Series, #1)Scion of Ikshvaku by Amish Tripathi
My rating: 2 of 5 stars⭐ ⭐
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Hmmm….Yeah, so I read this ‘Ramayana remake’.  Didn’t like it. Well okay….maybe I liked only tiny portions. Kinda-sorta okayish book I’d say.

Do you think otherwise? Let me know here: 

Ram is born on the day of Dhasharath’s first defeat against Raavan!(preposterous, and ridiculously twisted) This victimizes Ram in Dhasharath’s eye. The King blames his first defeat on the new born. How is a baby responsible for a king’s blunders in war? I don’t know. But it says a lot about how much we suck. As a community that buys into such idiotic beliefs, and as an audience who hasn’t raised riots for infantile injustice.

Okay. Maybe that was too strong.

The plot and sub-plot:

Ram, Lakshman (I’d like to call him Lakky from now) Bharat and Shatrugnan are brothers from different wombs. They grow up in a gurukul. They have different gurukul names, sorta like these fake reddit usernames. This is to protect the royal family from danger. Totally unnecessary if you ask me. Can’t remember any of those now.

The boys are trained under Saint Vashishta (or should I say Shady Vashishta?!) Because Vashista seems to have mysterious dealings with  the Nagas (deformed people according to Amish Tripathi) Why is Vashishta associated with the Nagas? And why are they interested in Ram and Co. ? A sub-plot arises.

The boys grow up, unawares of this other face of their guru. Over the course of 16 years, they are trained in fighting, archery and other life skills. They learn about vedhas, dharma and history.

Ram is especially interested in Dharma. Bharat is especially interesting in girls. Both of them are equally interested in politics and ruling the kingdom.

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The Crown of Ptolemy by Rick Riordan: A review

A quick Saturday pre-siesta-brunch read.

The Crown of PtolemyThe Crown of Ptolemy by Rick Riordan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
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Hilarious, as is Rick Riordan’s signature writing style. It seemed like he didn’t put any effort in the way of the plot. He took liberal references from the internet slang, like selfies and ‘Stahhp’ and made a funny story out of it. It was enjoyable and laugh-worthy.

laughing gif
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More 5 star-rated books:

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God is a Gamer by Ravi Subramanian : A review

An excellent, unparalleled plot coupled with amazing story-telling!

To be honest, I did not expect this from an Indian author. It was a pleasant surprise.

God is a GamerGod is a Gamer by Ravi Subramanian
My rating: 5 of 5 stars⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
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A thriller that managed to make Sidney Sheldon and Dan Brown look like kiddos scribbling random stuff.

I’m not going to give anything away in the name of spoilers. Everybody who reads this book deserves to go into it without having any preconceived notions. If you think that Indian authors don’t cut it as Thriller authors – then take this! In your face ! (Yep, that’s my experience literally. I am sorry Ravi Subramanian, I should have picked up your book earlier. I was judgmental and wrong.)

The author clearly knew what he was doing. He has done his research and his home work perfectly. He is an exemplary, masterful, superlative story crafter in the Thriller genre. Continue reading