Caraval by Stephanie Garber : A review

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

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.

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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

Untamed [House of Night #4] by P.C.Cast : A review

Untamed (House of Night #4)Untamed by P.C. Cast
My rating: 3 of 5 stars⭐ ⭐ ⭐
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The plot keeps thickening. I liked Stevie Rae’s amazing comeback and adorable Jack. Although Stark’s character could have had a little more build up before we all totally fall in love with the mysterious stranger. The gang finally gets bigger,better and awesome to kick some serious High-priestess ass 😉 , I mean “butt” if I am to stick with the vocab standards we are following here 😛

Chosen (House of Night #3) by P.C.Cast : A review

Chosen (House of Night #3)Chosen by P.C. Cast
My rating: 3 of 5 stars⭐ ⭐ ⭐
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The series seems to be improving. The plot thickens, yet it doesn’t make the narrative any less bearable. I like that all the characters are being dug deep, like the softer side of Aphrodite and the nefarious side of Neferet.

Betrayed (House of Night #2) by P.C.Cast : A review

Betrayed (House of Night, #2)Betrayed by P.C. Cast
My rating: 2 of 5 stars⭐ ⭐
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This book was no better than the first in terms of the writing. *oh my god, the writing totally sucked, like seriously !

I hated the narrative. Way too much repetitive and contrived elements like dead-undead-ghost-freakish-things.

And clearly the authors intended us to get shocked by Stevie Rae’s transformation , which until the very end we are to believe as one of Zoey-I-have-every-possible-power-in-the-vampyre-world “special powers” to see ghosts.

One word – Ridiculus .