Book review, Received for Review

Mango People in Banana Republic by Vishak Shakti

Statistics

Format: Paperback IMG_20180525_223136-01_2-min.jpeg

Length: 236 pages

Genre: Fiction, Philosofiction, Political, Spiritual

Publisher: The Write Place

Rating: 5/5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from WritersMelon in exchange for my honest review


As you have seen previously, I have reviewed Letters to my Ex and The Brahmin for WritersMelon. I wasn’t sure if I would get an opportunity to review Mango People in Banana Republic but I applied anyway. It was a pleasant surprise when I did. I am not a very political person and I am very skeptical about the whole ‘meditation leads us to see things beyond the Universe’ thing so the fact that I enjoyed the book so much says a lot about the author’s talents.


The Author

Vishak Shakti is a Tech. product manager based in Bangalore. He is a writer by compulsion. He writes to vent, to purge and to indulge. He has written for MSN India, The Hindu and Clean Bowled. He loves cricket and was a movie buff before the world of television swept him off his feet.

He believes that a good book contains 3 traits- Entertainment, Artistry and Relevance. He likes literary thrillers, philosofiction and non-fiction. He has a particular liking for authors with irreverent voices. Mango People in Banana Republic is his first novel.

The Blurb

Ravi Bhalerao is a top of the rung business strategy consultant struggling with two disquiets in life – a festering career disillusionment and a festering wound in his posterior. Stung by an unfair performance appraisal, he pulls off an outrageous stunt at his workplace, drops off the urban map and reaches his ancestral land, a village in drought-prone Vidarbha. There he encounters India in its elemental form. Convinced that his destiny is somehow entwined with that of his country, he sets off on a truth-seeking mission. On that mission, he finds love, revolution and most importantly, a redemption for the disquiet in his rear.

Anand is a former physicist on a spiritual quest through esoteric India. He realizes that the path to realization is beset on all sides by gurus, their cults and their boundless quirks. As he hops from one ashram to the other, he grows convinced that liberation does not come with a user manual in a neat little box.

Wrapped in light-hearted, almost tongue-in-cheek prose, ‘Mango People In Banana Republic’ is a tale of an Indian’s search for personal identity, against the backdrop of a country divided along fault lines of countless social identities. Teeming with a cast of characters and ideas that encapsulate modern India, the tale ascends from the gross to the sublime, much like the Kundalini powers some aspire to acquire. With a steady pace, and gentle mocking humour, this book is an absorbing read and a laugh“.

The Book

First off, let me say that I finished the entire book in one sitting, cover to cover. It is very rare for a book to hold that much sway over me. I absolutely loved how the story pulled me along for a roller coaster ride of emotions. It begins with Ravi, a strategy consultant with a painful fistula going to a physician. I did not think that it was possible for problems in the butt to be a source of so much hilarity. The best part was that we see this theme as well as this style of writing for the entirety of the book.

The book follows different characters on their journey to enlightenment, each in their own way. After a performance appraisal gone horribly wrong, Ravi is disillusioned about the corporate world that he lives (or survives) in. He decides to give up the entrapment of materialistic things and returns to the village that he grew up in. Here we are treated to explicit details of the hardships in a drought affected land that mainly depends on farming for their livelihood. It highlights how the Government cheats people out of their right to survive and does not even give them their basic necessities. We read about farmer suicides and land encroachment in the News but reading about it in a story through their points of view makes it even more real.

In the meanwhile, we see a former physicist undergoing spiritual awakening in various ashrams across the country. At the same time, Ravi falls in with the Naxal crowd and has a few adventures himself. I am not a very political person so I took all the Government-vs-Naxal/Maoist/Guerrilla activities at face value without analysing it beyond what was given in the book. The fact that they stressed on ‘we do not harm civilians’ was nice, if only it were actually followed. I was surprised that Ravi was let go so easily after hearing the horror stories of people who wish to quit any powerful underground organization.

Ravi and Anand meeting each other seemed a bit too coincidental. As I said before, I don’t necessarily believe that our mind heals us of anything. So Anand healing Ravi’s longstanding fistula with just a simple meditation session was hard to believe. Even if such healing was possible, it would seem that it would take a bit more time and energy, not to mention practice and patience to be able to transform the physical body. The end with the reappearance of Madhu was too good to be true. I was glad that the author left a bit of ambiguity on that front.

On the whole, I really did enjoy the book even though I was not so sure when the political part came on. It did not bore me nor did it seem preachy. It was an incredible effort by a first time novelist and I can’t wait to read more from Vishak.


TL;DR: A fast paced and engaging book that is sure to make you want to read it from cover to cover at one go.


Have you read any book cover to cover in a single sitting?

Which book was it?

Tell me more in the comments below or on my Instagram @the_food_and_book_life

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Book review, Received for Review

The Water Rabbits by Paul Tarrago

Statistics

Format: Paperback PicsArt_05-24-12.53.09-min.jpg

Length: 167 pages

Genre: Contemporary, Short story, Fiction

Publisher: Mistral Studios

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review


As a part of the Kate Tilton’s Book Bloggers team, Paul contacted me asking if I wanted to read his book for a review. I am always on the lookout for  new and experimental writing that can shake me up and this seemed to promise to deliver.

The Author

Paul Tarrago is a filmmaker and a writer based in London who works as a Lecturer at University of the Arts London. He uses both video and celluloid to create a mix of underground experimentation and metafiction, tugging at the leash of film language but with narrative often held close at hand.

His films have been widely shown in film festivals and gallery circuits. Like his films, his writing, although experimental is still very caught up with narrative.

His short story collections include:

  1. The Mascot Moth and several other pieces (2013)
  2. The Water Rabbits (2017)

The Blurb

This is my second writing collection, featuring fourteen short pieces. The approach is similar to my film work: formally venturesome rather than hard line experimental, taking pleasure in narrative and its plasticity; non-realist/pro-absurdist; engaged with not-quite-our-worlds, but ones which are still close enough etc. Narratively… the scenarios within ‘The Water Rabbits’ include: the reappearance of monsters in a town that has long since stopped believing in them; a plague of sinkholes; a consideration of the problems, merits and popularity of slow cookers; a sound-artist who specializes in recording bone growth; a drift through the streets of a city where the local authors have run out of things to say; and more, much more.

The Book

The Water Rabbits contains 14 short pieces with both prose and poems and the stories are not connected to each other. I am at a loss for words to describe the book. The stories were different from what most of us usually read. The stories by themselves are not the ‘shocking’ factor of the book. The bizarre scenes combined with the style of writing manages to create a reading adventure that confuses and then makes sense after you stop to think about it. Most of the stories contain narrative as well as dialogues mixed with each other and during the course of a conversation, the characters move in a tangent that the readers would not have seen coming. But that in itself makes up the actual story.

I didn’t like all of the stories in the book but I don’t think Paul intended for everyone to like each of the 14 pieces. Some did not make much sense to me while some spoke to me profoundly. These are some of the stories that are sure to stay with me for a long time.

  1. Absence of Monsters– Here a fictional town sees a resurgence of monsters in the woods surrounding it. The people however, exhibit typical ‘people’ behaviour and refuse to believe the fact that all the funny incidences are a result of the supernatural. The story shows how people start to lose trust in each other at the mere mention of something out of the ordinary. Herd mentality is showcased here. Children who see or feel the monsters are not believed and they slowly stop trusting and confiding in the adults . This is what we see even in a regular society. Stories told by children are never fully believed  even though they perceive their surroundings different from adults. It could also be argued that people who are termed as ‘Psychics’ and Schizophrenics may also be experiencing things differently and we don’t want to believe them for the fear of how society will view us.
  2. Arguments for an empty room– A statement that got me thinking here was “If we remove the walls (in an empty room) will the empty space cease to exist?” This is another interesting way of thinking about the old conundrum “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound”
  3. Under ground and over thought– It is a story of how a lady tries to create a piece for her art class. She consults her friends and family to see how they look at her work and modifies it accordingly. It shows how much thought and practice goes into every artist’s work and how much of their soul is put into it. We sometimes dismiss a work of art because we don’t find it esthetically pleasing but the work behind the art is something that only the artist will be aware of.
  4. The water rabbits– I was excited to read the story that the book was named after. It terrified me to think that a creature as docile as a rabbit could turn vicious so quickly. I actually stopped to google to see if this phenomenon was true but I won’t spoil the surprise for any of you.
  5. The new old– Here the author decides to go from saying ‘no’ to everything to saying ‘yes’. But since he cannot go from one absolute to the other so quickly, he decides to say ‘yes’ to everything on the first week of the first month, the first two weeks of the second month and so on until agreeing to things becomes second nature to him. He talks about how freeing it is to know the answer to questions before hand and how it takes away the stress of any situation. I wondered how he managed to not get overwhelmed with all the things that he has agreed to do but then he says that his capacity to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ was recalibrated with this exercise and he felt empowered. It seems like an interesting experiment and I would consider doing it at least once in my life.
  6. The Orphan– Here we see how we have an image set in our mind about a celebrity or a public figure based on what we see or read. This reminds me of the story of Vajramuni, a renowned actor in Kannada film industry who mostly played negative roles. People grew to fear and hate him because of the kind of roles that he did. However, on hearing the accounts of people who worked with him, he turned out to be a very nice man who was in the habit of appologising to his fellow actors before a scene for all the atrocities that he was going to act out with them. This stresses upon the fact that the public figures have a life of their own which we do not see and judging them based on the small percentage of things that we think we know about them is wrong. With the way media enters into the lives of every actor, pop star and politician and the easy access to internet that we now have, it is imperative that we remember that they are humans too and deserve to be seen as more than the parts that they play.

I am not a big fan of poetry in general and true to form, the poems in this book too did nothing for me. The Water Rabbits was different, absurd and experimental and it made me think which is more than what I can say for a lot of other books that I have recently read. I am still not sure if I thoroughly enjoyed the book and that is the reason for the 3.5 star rating.


TL;DR: A very interesting book that shakes you up and makes you think and look at situations from a different point of view.


Do you like to read writing that does not strictly adhere to the popular genre?

Tell me more in the comments below or on my Instagram @the_food_and_book_life

Guest Post, Promotion

Themes Beneath A Story- Guest Post by Kate Murdoch

As you are aware, I am a part of the Kate Tilton Book Bloggers where authors can request reviewers to take a look at their book. As a part of the book blogger team, I have received a couple of books to review and Kate Murdoch’s Stone Circle was one of them.

Kate Murdoch is an artist turned writer who lives in Australia. Below is a guest post by Kate herself about the themes for her new book- Stone Circle.


The Author  km-final-large-1-min.jpg

Kate Murdoch is the author of Stone Circle. She exhibited widely as a painter both in Australia and internationally before turning her hand to writing. In between writing historical fiction, she enjoys writing short stories and flash fiction.

She is an active blogger and also posts on Instagram, Twitter, Pintrest and Facebook.

Her short-form fiction is regularly published in Australia, UK, US and Canada.

Stone Circle is a historical fantasy novel set in Renaissance Italy. It was released by Fireship Press December 1st 2017. Her novel, The Orange Grove, about the passions and intrigues of court mistresses in 18th century France, will be published by Regal House Publishing in 2019. 


Written by Kate Murdoch

The themes beneath the story

Alongside writing novels I write short fiction. I like this form as it’s pared back to one theme, one idea. It’s refreshing to write because you can find a more direct solution – the sentiment you are trying to express can be teased out with a few plot points. In any case, it’s healthy as a writer to switch between writing novels and short stories, because the marathon of long form can take its toll. A short piece can give a sense of accomplishment in a few days, rather than a few years.

In writing a novel, I’m attempting to convey several layered themes at once. I don’t need all of them to be transparent to the reader, but they help enrich the story and my characters. In Stone Circle, issues of identity along with class, rivalry and love are explored. One character, Nichola, is not entirely good or bad. The shades of grey in his personality led to my focus in my forthcoming novel, The Orange Grove.

In this story, my themes were more opaque, even to me. I was interested in the ambiguity of morality, but the challenge of revealing this through plot and character was a hurdle. I was wary of being misinterpreted, that readers might think I was endorsing bad behaviour. Rather, I wanted to paint my less wholesome characters with empathy, in terms of the causes and conditions behind their actions. The message being: ‘If we had that upbringing, or those circumstances, what might we do? Would we be pushed to go against our morals or beliefs?’ It’s something I think about when I see people who have committed crimes in the media. What was the tipping point taking them to a place of no return? This is often touched on as the ‘ordinariness’ of evil. The fact that a number of those who commit crimes are living seemingly perfect lives and present as ‘normal’ until it all unravels. Perhaps, there are many who come to that edge, but quietly step back.

Stone Circle was more straightforward in its themes. How talent can break through even the most rigid social barriers. How love and tenderness is a universal need, and how self-knowledge, through spirituality or other means, can lead to transformation.

Whether these types of issues are examined in short or long form, if the result is a reader asking themselves questions, or just thinking about human complexity, then three days or three years are more than worthwhile.


Excerpt of Stone Circle

Is the ability to read minds a blessing or a curse?  

When Antonius’s father dies, he must work to support his family. He finds employment as a servant in the Palazzo Ducal, home of Conte Valperga. Sixteenth-century Pesaro is a society governed by status, and Antonius has limited opportunities. When a competition is announced, Antonius seizes his chance. The winner will be apprenticed to the town seer. Antonius shares first place with his employer’s son. The two men compete for their mentor’s approval. As their knowledge of magic and alchemy grows, so does the rivalry and animosity between them. When the love of a beautiful woman is at stake, Antonius must find a way to follow his heart and navigate his future.

Did you like what you read?

The book is available on Amazon, Amazon Australia, Amazon UK, Book Depository, Kobo, Barnes and Noble and ibooks.

Book review, Received for Review

Living on the Edge by Chanchal Jain

Statistics

Format: Paperback IMG_20180520_180604-01-01-min

Length: 366 pages

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: Olympia Publishers

Rating: 2/5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book from Olympia Publishers in exchange for an honest review


Olympia Publishers had offered this book for review. Since the blurb claimed that it was a story of immigrants, especially Indians and the problems that they face in a different country, I was curious to see how the story would go.

The book was first written in 1981 and published in 2017.

The Author

Born in Punjab in India, Chanchal Jain went to Birmingham England with a Post-Graduate qualification from Punjab University. She later gained teaching qualification from the University of Birmingham and has worked in a variety of employments before retiring from teaching.

She has served the community in many organisations as a volunteer and as a professional and received an award for community services from the Birmingham City Council.

The Blurb

Living on the Edge describes the early life of overseas Asians/Indians living in England. It reflects the continuous struggle and conflicts in their lives in the ever-changing society here in the UK.
The novel is written through the eyes of a community worker who works in the inner-city, deprived area, of Birmingham, at a Neighbourhood Centre where ethnic people come to seek advice for basic needs such as – unemployment, housing, health, DHSS, legal, social, personal and language issues.
The majority of the characters are of Asian origin and the novel is set in Birmingham at various locations. The story is fictional, but issues highlighted are real. It has a touch of romance which moves the story forward. Subjects covered include: – pregnancy for a young unmarried Asian girl, abortion, forced marriage, living with a man outside marriage and alcoholism.

The Book

Living on the edge is a story that centers around Geeta, a social worker and Poonam, a University student. They meet each other when Geeta tries to help Poonam deal with her homelessness and her pregnancy. Then enter the men in the story- Mandeep, the man who destroys Poonam and Bill, the man who saves her.

The book is filled with racism and sexism and makes no effort to hide the blatant hatred towards Indians and women. Every character makes innuendos and insults that are not even questioned by other characters. The very obvious division between whites and non-whites like “I’ve got a charming Indian lady with me” and “By Indian standards, she was a beautiful girl. By English standards,she was more than presentable” were unnecessary. Woman bashing began very early in the book with statements like “Keep on appreciating her cooking and clothes, she is fine” about a wife who ‘nags’ her husband for not giving her any of his attention and “You could do with losing some weight around your waist” made me see red. Characters like Mr. Sharma and Mrs. Johnson were grating on my nerves and it felt like it was not necessary to take the story to the level of negativity seen here.

The book went into too many so called ‘twists’ with each character trying to fix others up. I could not understand how a man who asks a woman to marry him can immediately ask to marry her friend and both the ladies can be okay with it. I was just begining to like the character of Geeta before she went around hitting people in the face because they had been drinking. She just knew Mandeep in her capacity as a social worker and to actually start living with him and say things like “Don’t you dare drink in front of me” made no sense. And for Mandeep to immediately put his head into her lap was too intimate for two people who were practically strangers at the time. There were plenty of grammatically incorrect sentences and also redundant sentences like “Geeta was sad and unhappy” which made reading the book a chore.

The only positive thing that I could tell about the book is that it was written in 1981 where culture allowed for some amount of racism and sexism to exist freely. It showed how difficult it was for immigrants to survive in a country that did not want them. It also showed the life of women who wanted to get a good education and work to live on their own. However, as  a book published in 2017, it gives a very wrong impression of the Indian community and the English population in general. Although arranged marriages, disownment and excess control over the lives of children are still a part of the Asian culture, it is not as severe as is made out in the book. I wish there were at least a couple of characters who were strong and stood against all the wrongs that kept happening in the story.


TL;DR: A book that is chock full of racism and sexism that should have been dealt with better.


Have you read a book that you felt was giving the wrong message about something?

Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram @the_food_and_book_life

 

Book Reveal, Promotion

Aesthetic Reveal- Salt for Air by M. C. Frank

jpeg-min.jpg
Aesthetic for Salt for Air by M. C. Frank

Ellie, the orphan of a math professor father and who used to be an overweight nerd,  loves TV shows and books but hates sports. She is about to get evicted from her home but she tries to escape reality with her vivid imagination. She spends her days imagining underwater kingdoms, reading stories about Mermen and writing fanfiction about them. She is constantly bullied at school. But one day the bullies go too far. When she is drowning in the toilet water that they hold her under, Emerald Eyes comes to her to tell her that she needs to survive in order to save someone else.

But who is the someone?

If you die for me, I’ll kill you.

Read Salt for Air by M. C. Frank to see if Ellie manages to save an ancient civilization and the life of its exiled prince.

Who doesn’t love mermen? Don’t miss out on this cool story. Add it to your Goodreads ‘To-Read’ list here.

 

Book review

The Sun is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon

Statistics

Format: eBook (Kindle) BeautyPlus_20180519130720580_save-min.jpg

Length: 348 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Publisher: Random House Children’s Publication

Rating: 5/5 stars


This book has been on my TBR since a long time. I finally decided to give it read as a part of the readathon by BooksNBeyond. More on the readathon coming up in later posts.

The book has won several awards like California Book Award for Young Adult (Gold) (2016)Michael L. Printz Award Nominee (2017)John Steptoe New Talent Author Award (2017)Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Young Adult Fiction (2016)


The Author

Nicola Yoon writes in the Yong Adult genre. She grew up in Jamaica and Brooklyn and currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter.

Her work include:

  1. Everything, Everything (2015)
  2. The Sun is Also A Star (2016)

The Blurb

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

The Book

The Sun is Also A Star is a story set in a single day in the lives of two 17 year olds- Daniel and Natasha, but what a day it turns out to be! It shows how destiny can change the course of your entire life just in the matter of one day. All the events leading up to a particular moment can align themselves to make (or break) your day. It is divided into chapters that tell the story from the points of view of each character. It also has pages dedicated to various side characters and brief histories of each of them.

Daniel is a Korean-American, more American than Korean much to the chagrin of his immigrant parents. They moved to America, The Land of Opportunities in order to give their sons a future that they could only dream of. However, their idea of The American Dream is very different from their sons’. This leads to numerous altercations between the parents and the sons. A similar story occurs with Natasha and her Jamaican parents. Their history is complicated by the fact that her father is a dreamer who feels slighted by destiny. He is frustrated and blames his family for his failure which does not do any favours to their psyche.

Destiny is something that people either believe in or they don’t. Daniel is a boy with a heart of a poet and earnestness coming out of him in oodles. Natasha is a girl with a scientific mind who sees the world in black and white. Terms like love and fate are explained in terms of chemicals in the brain and multiverses of infinite possibilities for her. However, on that fateful day, the Universe decides to play matchmaker and puts them into each others paths. I loved how Natasha had a scientific explanation for everything while Daniel explained it with a more whimsical twist. He is not a boy with his head in the clouds. He is smart and witty but believes that there is an unexplained force that helps to bind the world together. I loved both of the characters and the age-old science vs destiny debate.

The book deals with the anxiety of every immigrant parent who wants their children to have all the opportunities that the new country offers but also wants them to remember their roots, their culture and their tradition. The children, who have grown up with dreams and values of the new country do not really understand what their parents want from them and are torn between wanting to please their parents but also have a life that they see their peers living. I loved how each event of the day has a consequence that includes not just the people involved in the event but everyone around them. The attorney’s actions with his paralegal is the perfect example of a butterfly event with the ripples reaching into the lives of not just Daniel and Natasha but his future children as well. I enjoyed Natasha’s explanations of dark matter and The Grandfather Paradox. I was glad that the characters were not romanticised and each event was taken at face value. If I had to nitpick, I would say that the epilogue was unnecessary and the story had already reached its natural end without it.


TL;DR: A beautifully written story with well established characters that made me feel good while breaking my heart.


What are some of your favourite reads?

Give me some suggestions and I might just feature you in my reviews.

Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram @the_food_and_book_life

Book review

No Ordinary Star by M. C. Frank

Statistics

Format: Kindle IMG_20180516_174358_HHT-01-01-01-min

Length: 157 pages

Genre: Sci-Fi, Dystopian, Young Adult

Publisher: Createspace

Rating: 4/5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review


As you know, I am a part of the street team for M. C. Frank. I have already reviewed Lose Me. and Ruined for her. This time however, M. C is holding a giveaway for No Ordinary Star which lets people download a free copy of her book and that is how I ended up with one of the most fun reads for me this month.


The Blurb

“A soldier is summoned to the North Pole, days before the year changes, told to fix the great Clock for a celebration. He has no idea what to do. 
A girl, hunted for the crime of being born, almost dies out on the ice. She is rescued by the last polar bear left alive. 
A library waits for them both, a library built over a span of a hundred years, forgotten in the basement of an ice shack. 
The world hasn’t known hunger or sickness in hundreds of years. It has also forgotten love and beauty. 
The year is 2525. 

Inspired by the short stories of Ray Bradbury, this futuristic novel is set in a world where Christmas -among other things- is obsolete and a Clock is what keeps the fragile balance of peace. 

Written in three installments, this is the breathtaking and sensual story of how two unlikely people change the world, and each other, one book at a time. 

Immerse yourself into the icy cold world of this scorching hot new novel.

The Book

No Ordinary Star begins with the description of a soldier on his daily drill. Everything seems normal and it is only later that we discover that the story is set in the future, the end of the year 2524 to be exact. Felix the soldier is no ordinary soldier. He does not need to sleep and his source of nutrition is a little pill. So is the case with everyone on Earth and all its colonies across the galaxy. He is the epitome of an obedient and loyal soldier.. that is, until he is summoned to the icy depths of the North Pole.

The soldier who has almost never seen the real outdoors is in for quite a shock when he discovers that nature tends to get cold, dark and cruel. He must use whatever he can to survive but he is in luck because he rescues Astra the girl who’s only crime is that she is the daughter of her father. Together they discover the hidden treasures of the Ice Shack. Felix begins to turn from an emotionless drone to an actual human being while Astra begins to learn to read and discovers the joy to be found in books.

The Soldier and the Match Girl are to save new year’s eve and by extension the whole world by fixing a clock left incomplete by the Clock Master. With one partner never having lived in the real world and the other not taught to read or count, this seems like a tough task indeed. My favourite part of the story was when Astra and Felix read the story of the Steadfast Soldier and even though concepts of love and beauty are alien to them, it manages to move them to tears. Astra saying “I will save yours right back” to Felix’s “You haven’t thanked me for saving your life” shows the kind of girl that she is. Gutsy, witty and full of spunk, my favourite kind of character.

The book is the first of three parts and characteristically ends on a cliff hanger. I cannot wait to get started on No Plain Rebel and really sink my teeth into the story. I would love to discover more of Astra’s backstory and find more scenes involving Ursa the last polar bear.


TL;DR: A short and fast paced read that is set in the future with a whole new world for the reader to discover.


Do you like stories set in the future to be dystopian or not?

Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram @the_food_and_book_life

Book review

A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Mass

Statistics

Format: eBook (Kindle) Screenshot_20180513-165301-01-min

Length: 272 pages

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

Rating: 5/5 stars


If you have been following my blog since it’s conception in 2017, I started it with a review of the ACOTAR series. It has continued to be one my favourite series till date. I remember the excitement of waiting for new Harry Potter books to be released and pre-booking them months in advance. The excitement that I felt when I heard that A Court of Frost and Starlight was to be released in May was akin to that and that is saying something since I am a certifiable Potterhead. This was the 1st book that I coveted immediately after release apart from the Harry Potter series and I am glad to announce that it met my expectations and then some.


The Blurb

Months after the explosive events in A Court of Wings and Ruin, Feyre, Rhys and their companions are still busy rebuilding the Night Court and the vastly changed world beyond. But Winter Solstice is finally near, and with it a hard-earned reprieve. Yet even the festive atmosphere can’t keep the shadows of the past from looming. As Feyre navigates her first Winter Solstice as High Lady, she finds that those dearest to her have more wounds than she anticipated – scars that will have a far-reaching impact on the future of their Court.

The Book

A Court of Frost and Sunlight starts a while after the big war that A Court of Wings and Ruin ended at and is narrated from the points of view of various members of the Night Court. It shows how everyone is dealing in the aftermath. It is a book that deals with loss and courage in face of adversity and shows the strength that is required by an individual to carry on with his life even if it feels like everything has been lost.

The story is set during the winter solstice. It is the perfect time to base a story set in the Night Court. The descriptions of the beautiful land with the snow and frost covering made me wish that I was transported there as well. Feyre, Rhys and their Inner Circle are devastated with all the death around them. Being the kind of people they are, they feel responsible for each death and are miserable to have caused so much of destruction. Each member of the Court of Dreams is taking part in the rebuilding of the new ‘wall-less’ world in their own way. Here we see much more of Elaine and I am glad that she is now slowly but surely turning into a strong lady even without her gifts. Amren is adjusting to her new Fae body as is Nesta but the latter is doing everything that she can to resist. I just wish it had more scenes for my favourite character of the series- Azriel.

I was pleased to see that the book was realistic about the fact that no matter how much anyone tries to help, certain situations get better only with time. It is not the number of people who surround us or the support that they offer that matter but how we feel inside. It is a sweet story with not too many twists or action and made for a nice and pleasant read. We are treated to the inner workings of all of their minds and we get an in-depth look into each character to fall in love with all over again. I was glad that Sarah did not try to have a ‘happily ever after’ ending to the book even as she was dealing with tragedies in her personal life. It serves as the perfect launching pad to the next book in the series that I am already waiting for with baited breath.


TL;DR: A perfect next step in the series with beautiful descriptions of people and places that makes for a very pleasant read.


What is your favourite ACOTAR character?

Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram @the_food_and_book_life

Book review, Received for Review

Atto’s Tale by Brindi Quinn

Statistics

Format: eBook (Kindle) Screenshot_20180501-154628-02-min

Length: 326 pages

Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Rating: 5/5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review.


As a part of the Brindi Quinn Street Team of Review Warriors, I had the chance to read all of Brindi’s books. I fell in love with her style of writing from the very first book.

Atto’s Tale is the last of 4 books in the Farellah series and is set in the modern day. It is touted as a spin-off but to me, it felt like the natural progression in the series. It concentrated on my favourite character and I loved everything about the book as is evident in the rating.


The Blurb

This is the beautiful, not-so-tragic tale of a girl with a stolen soul. I am that girl and this is my story. Let’s start at the beginning. 

We are surrounded by deep, glowing purple. That’s when it comes back to me. Everything. A songstress. An Elf. And a Daem, legendary man of shadow. A quest to save the world from a destructive song. An angelic truth learned too late. A choice made too early. A dragon. A goldness. A love. At once the fire dies. The crystal fades. Atto and I stand face-to-face in darkness. Silent darkness surrounds us a long, long while, until Atto finally musters the courage to speak: “What is my name?” 

The journey continues in this Heart of Farellah spinoff! A not-so-small something, reborn lives, and the curse of the wind. What else lies in store for Atto and Aurelia?

The Book

Let me start by saying that all through the first three books of the series, I kept wishing for more of Ardette and when I found out that the last book concentrates on him, I was in a great big hurry to get to it. I was definitely not disappointed. I had my heart’s fill of Ardette from the very first chapter.

The story is set in the modern day and shows Aurelia as a 19 year old clumsy girl with a fear of open spaces. Atto enters her life and changes everything that she thinks she knows about the world. Up until this book, the only problem that I had with Brindi’s writing was that even though her female characters were strong, they would wait for the males in the story to help them out and let the males make decisions. I was really pleased to see that Aurelia thinks of herself as an equal. This shows especially in the scene at the beach side inn where Aurelia wants to stay up with Atto to wait the night out since Shane was her responsibility too. I still did not like the fact that all through the series, Aurelia is the only one who is in the dark regarding her rebirths but at least in this one she becomes aware and stops acting like a confused damsel in distress.

As is typical of Brindi Quinn books, Atto’s Tale too contained beautiful descriptions of the fantasy world. The rules that govern the magic are explained well without seeming to bore the readers. The story is fast paced with action packed into every other page. It was a fitting end to the series and I absolutely loved the book.


TL;DR: A fitting end to the series with an in-depth look into some of the beloved characters.


Do you prefer to read all books in a series one after the other or do you take breaks with other books in between?

Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram @the_food_and_book_life

Book review

The Adventures of Tootsie Lama by Stuti Agarwal

Statistics

Format: Online IMG-20180511-WA0005-01-min

Length: 39 pages

Genre: Children’s book

Publisher: Juggernaut Books

Rating: 4.5/5 stars


As you are all aware, I have trolled the juggernaut.in site for free books (Who hasn’t had the misfortune of their need to read exceeding their financial means to buy all books ever to be written?). The Adventures of Tootsie Lama has been receiving a lot of attention over Bookstagram and on Juggernaut and I was very curious to see if it lived up to its hype.

The Author

Currently based in New Delhi, Stuti Agarwal grew up in Darjeeling, playing in the mountains and slurping hot thukpa. The Adventures of Tootsie Lama is her first book.

The Blurb

She is eight, unafraid, and loves Thukpa.

In many ways Tootsie is like any eight-year-old in the hilly town of Darjeeling. But in many ways she is completely different – she lives on her own and cooks her meals. One day Tootsie decides she would like a delicious bowl of thukpa, just like her aama used to make it. Now all she needs is a plan.

The Book

It is very rare to find Indian books written for children which are grammatically impeccable, witty and morally high all at the same time. I was so glad that I could compare The Adventures of Tootsie Lama to short stories by Enid Blyton, who in my opinion is the undisputed Queen of Children’s Stories.

Tootsie Lama is an eight year old orphan who is adopted by a loving couple. However fate turns cruel yet again when her adoptive parents become casualties of an environmental disaster. This gutsy girl does not give up hope just because she is abandoned by adults. She takes care of herself, the house and the garden. She manages to survive by working and feeding herself. True to her 8 year old form, Tootsie also goes on adventures with her friend Tenzing.

Our story begins with Tootsie craving for Thukpa that tastes just the way her Aama used to make. The resourceful girl hatches a plan and enlists the help of Tenzing to steal a bowl of the delicious noodle dish from a restaurant.  What happens next and how the little kids are rewarded for their crimes is what makes the 39 paged book exciting.


TL;DR: A fun and exciting children’s book with a moral at the end.


What is your favourite children’s book?

Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram @the_food_and_book_life