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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Jonathan Strange and Mr.Norrel by Susanna Clarke: A review

Jonathan Strange and Mr NorrellJonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

My rating: 5 of 5 stars ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
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The book that made me exercise my biceps. The book that made me LOL without a break. The book that is an epitome of dry humor and sarcasm.

What I felt about it
A completely unique and original story from an author who knows what she’s doing. It was a slow-burner and had lots of little tidbits in the footnotes. It is an elaborate read, but I liked it. It was a nice change of pace from all the murder mysteries I’ve been reading. I liked the fact that there were no dirty words or stuff and the story was clean of double entendres. I really wish that we can all start reading and writing more stories like this. This book is a collectible, worthy of sitting in the best bookshelf on every reader’s home library. I think that this book deserves more popularity and more praise. Amazing piece of work, Susanna Clarke. I could kiss you for writing this beautiful story.

Reading Progress

JSAMR Reading Progress 1JSAMR Reading Progress 2JSAMR Reading Progress 3JSAMR Reading Progress 4JSAMR Reading Progress 5

Storytelling
There is no question in my mind about the brilliance of this book. It deserves five stars and more stars and more awards and more accolades than what it has received right now. JSAMR is the story of the titular magicians striving to bring back (lost) magic to England in the 1800s. What is not to like about this premise? It has magic, it has humor, it has elaborate narrative AND it is set in the best age of British history.

The first thing that strikes you about the book is how heavy the thing is from all of its 1000 pages and its humor. The book oozes sarcasm. The narrative thrives on dry humor. The story exudes clever witticism. Naturally, all credit goes to the brilliant, BRILLIANT author, Susanna Clarke.

I mean, if I had to talk about her narrative then I’d need a whole day. Seriously. Her use of premonition in revealing key characters, plot twists and story elements is insanely clever! The novel is rich in footnotes that tell us more about this world she is building. The footnotes give us lots of insights into our characters and many, tiny branching stories.

It’s like a thousand stories within one big story

Characters
Mr. Norrel – The one that is secretive – secretly jealous, secretly afraid, secretly sincere.
Jonathan Strange – The one who is likable, friendly, jovial and talented.
Childermass – The one who appears very rarely but the one you miss the most.
Arabella Strange – The one who sets the bar for wives all over England.
Lady Pole – The one who looks like a butterfly but stings like a bee.
Mr. Honeyfoot – The one who should have had his foot in his mouth, honey.
Drawlight, Mr. Lascelles – The ones who are supposed to be comic reliefs but whom you hate.
Vinculus – The one that shocks you with his story.
John Uskglass – The one you want more of.
The Fairy – The mean one that you were happy to see defeated.
Stephen – The one you root for.

JSAMR in short:
Length : 1006 pages (!!!)
Author : The Sarcastic Susanna Clarke
Genre : Historical Fiction
Tone : Funny-as-hell
Why you should NOT read JSAMR: Only for the plot
Why you should read JSAMR: Purely for the sarcasm

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery: A review

The Little PrinceThe Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
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The awesomeness of this book might be lost to somebody who isn’t aware of psychology.

In psychotherapy, concepts like Inner child, Emotional literacy and Flow are explained in detail with many serious terminologies. But this story captures the essence of all that in a few simple and profound words.

Isn’t that the beauty of stories?

I was both happy and disappointed with the language used because in some places the dialogues were so intense that they triggered extreme guilt and sadness in me. I felt that the tone could have been gentler in such places. I felt downright shameful in some chapters.

“…and it is of some use to my flower that I own them. But you are of no use to the stars…”

Woah. Tone it down a notch.

I was a sucker for the conceptualization of Inner Child in this book. The innocence, the incessant questions, the curiosity, the ability to see the beauty of the rose and to appreciate the value of beauty are all characteristics of a child. These are portrayed exceptionally well. These characteristics are shown and spoken of directly and with a rawness.

What I loved best about ‘The Little Prince’ is the flexibility of the metaphors. Here, the haughty rose can be equated with ‘Love’ or ‘Innocence of childhood’. Either metaphor works well. So this book is to be read by each individual with their own interpretations and meanings.

How you enjoy this book depends on how imaginative your inner child is!

White Teeth by Zadie Smith: A review

White TeethWhite Teeth by Zadie Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
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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.

white-teeth-quotes

In-depth review:
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.

white-teeth-reading-progress-1

 

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.

white-teeth-reading-progress-2

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!

white-teeth-reading-progress-3

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.

white-teeth-reading-progress-4

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.


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Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett: A review

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, WitchGood Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

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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.

good-omens-reading-progress


Other reviews:

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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.

Continue reading

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

The Golden Compass [His Dark Materials #1] by Philip Pullman : A review

 

Ah! That feeling of reading a fast-paced, adrenaline-pumping adventure. 

The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, #1)The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
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Here’s a gist -> In Lyra’s world, Daemons are the soul-projections,in animal forms, of any human being.They are companions of the soul and the separation from their Daemon could even be fatal for that human.Lyra and her Daemon, Pan, are brought up and cared for by the Scholars in Oxford, just as any other child. But she has a bigger destiny to fulfill. Unaware of this, Lyra sets out on a journey, to look for her missing friend, who is one among the many children who were kidnapped by a secret society.The rumor is that the society intends to do horrible things to children, even murder them. Lyra is intent on bringing her friend back. Her adventure takes her to the deep North, where she meets many Supernatural and powerful beings, human and non-human. In her course, Lyra learns about bigger threats her world faces and ends up in the middle of it all. How she escapes danger and fights off evil forces is the story of The Golden Compass.

What splendid narration! Philip Pullman has a way with words, it just draws the reader in. I was instantly connected to the story from the first line. The story has a beautiful flow to it; and I wondered how it would be to hear a vocal rendition of this novel, narrated in a deep baritone. Such was the enchanting narrative of the book.

I liked the premise of the book. It’s complicated but it works as a good baseline to build on. A Destiny that Lyra has to fulfill for the saving the world-as-she-knows it, but, and here’s the complicated part, she has to do it without her own knowing. Nobody can help her, and she can’t know that she is the destined savior of the world. As for the story arc, keeping us readers in the dark for more than a hundred pages was a little unfair. Until then the story only wavers about without any ‘purpose’. The direction of the plot isn’t revealed. But not to worry, it picks up fast from there and slowly the big picture is revealed.

Each of the characters were designed so well. Lyra – what a lyrical name. I loved it! Lyra – like the mythical musical instrument lyre. Lyra is a non-fussy, mature, pragmatic child. She is sensitive to others while being equally outgoing and adventure-seeking.Lord Asriel and Mrs.Coulter and Iorek and John Faa…every character was unique.

Continue reading

The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella : A review


The Undomestic GoddessThe Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella
My rating: 5 of 5 stars⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
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What a wonderful book!
For those of you who don’t know what the book is, here is the gist – The Undomestic Goddess is about this high-flying big town London based Lawyer, Samantha, who slips into a much laid back job. The changeover is like moving from Violet to Red, literally from one end to the other end of the spectrum.  How Samantha manages this sudden shift is the hilarious content of The Undomestic Goddess.

This novel could top the charts if it were made into a movie. It is easily the material for a Romcom. It is wonderfully thought out, and told with excellence. I did like Sophie Kinsella’s story-telling. It is a tried and tested formula – take up simple theme and story and make it work wonders just by using witty, intelligent story-telling. In this story, we all know how it is going to end, but that didn’t stop me from reading upto the end with frenzied interest. Yep, the momentum was up till the very end. That’s why it would make such a superb movie.

If there is one point I could criticize, it would be the editing. There were huge chunks of prose – could’ve divided that up. That’s about it. I’ve got nothing more to criticize. Continue reading