Book review

Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

Statistics

Format: Hardcover

Length: 369 pages

Genre: Fantasy, Fiction

Publisher: Redhook Books/Orbit Books

Date of Publication: 10th September, 2019

Rating: 3.5/5 stars


I was intrigued by this book ever since it was published. A book within a book, a book about stories and the power of words is a book lover’s dream! So when a friend gifted it to me unexpectedly, I was very excited! The lockdown gave me the perfect opportunity to binge read it.


The Blurb

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.

Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.

The Book

The book is set in the early 1900s, a time, as the author describes it, at the cusp of change. Where the strife and revolutions of the previous century have calmed down and the great industrial revolution has just begun. People are getting used to the peace and will do anything to ensure that nothing disturbs it again. But how far is too far? January finds that there are people who would rip the world apart in order to maintain what they think is progress.

On the outside, January Scaller’s life is what young girls dream about. She lives in a big house with people to look after her every need, she goes on first-class travel to exotic places, she wears pretty dresses and attends fancy parties. But only January knows that she is a bird living in a gilded cage. She longs to fly away on adventures but most of all she wishes to have her father with her for more than a couple of days a year. She thinks that her wishes are partially fulfilled when she finds a book that describes adventures in parallel worlds and people writing words powerful enough to turn them into reality. What she doesn’t know is that her wish for gory adventures is too close for comfort. She is hunted by unknown assailants while she goes on a quest to find her missing father and to preserve the mysteries of the world.

The book could be read as a cautionary tale in the power of words. What is written cannot be unwritten and that we should believe what we put into words. I loved how the author described a child’s longing to belong to a place and to have a family of her own. The love-hate that she feels for Mr. Locke was very real. It underlines the fact that children inadvertently think that the person who feeds and clothes them is good. They don’t recognise abuse or neglect in the hands of their primary care-giver. The struggle of a wild and free soul trying to conform to society’s expectations of a demure young girl was sad to see while the love and camaraderie between January and Bad were beautiful. My favorites were the parts with Samuel in them. He turns into exactly the kind of friend that January needs at every stage in her life.

It was wonderful to see January grow from a protected little girl to a young woman who makes tough decisions and goes after what she wants no matter what the cost. I was glad that the author introduced strong female role models like Jane and Ade who follow their hearts. Although I did see the ending coming, I loved how the author connected all parts of the story to one another, weaving in different perspectives to give us the whole story. My only problem with the book was that it was a bit slow, especially the chapters written by Yule Ian. It had the potential of being an amazing fantasy adventure and given that it was the author’s first book, I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

The Author

Alix has been a student and a teacher, a farm-worker and a cashier, an ice-cream-scooper and a 9-to-5 office-dweller. She has lived in tents and cars, cramped city apartments and lonely cabins, and spent a summer in a really sweet ’79 VW Vanagon. She has library cards in at least five states.

Now she is a full-time writer living in with her husband and two kids in Berea, Kentucky. Ten Thousand Doors of January is her debut novel


TL;DR: A book that had the potential to be amazing if it was a bit fast paced


Have you read books that are books within books or stories within stories?

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

Book club, Book review

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Statistics

Format: eBook (kindle)

Length: 371 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Romance, LGBTQ+

Publisher: Penguin Books

Date of Publication: 16th September, 2014

Rating: 5/5 stars


I had sworn off the YA-romance genre for a while now. Every book felt like it was written along the same writing prompt. So when Bells Book Club had I’ll Give You the Sun as the book of the month, I wasn’t sure if I would be reading it. However, late one night, I was feeling curious about the book and decided to read 10% of it and then decide if I wanted to continue it or DNF. But what a beginning it was! I didn’t stop at 10%. I in fact binge read up to 38% and only stopped because the sun was rising and my body was begging me to get some sleep! But the minute I woke up the next morning, I jumped right in and finished the book that very day! It is not wonder that it won the Printz Award, Stonewall Honor and the Bank Street’s Josette Frank Award and plenty more.


The Blurb

“We were all heading for each other on a collision course, no matter what. Maybe some people are just meant to be in the same story.”

“At first, Jude and her twin brother Noah, are inseparable. Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude wears red-red lipstick, cliff-dives, and does all the talking for both of them. Years later, they are barely speaking. Something has happened to change the twins in different yet equally devastating ways . . . but then Jude meets an intriguing, irresistible boy and a mysterious new mentor. The early years are Noah’s to tell; the later years are Jude’s. But they each have only half the story, and if they can only find their way back to one another, they’ll have a chance to remake their world. This radiant, award-winning novel from the acclaimed author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once.

The Book

The book is humorous and witty and at the same time heart-wrenchingly sad. Each sentence is filled with artistic metaphor that the reader might need some time to get used to. For example, a sentence that beings with something to the effect of “…the walls started shaking, things fell off tables, pictures fell off the walls…” and ends with “but only I noticed” is how the author decides to describe the inner turmoil of the character’s mind. Another metaphor that I loved was the description of florescent green vomit splattered over the table to explain the depth of the character’s jealousy. I adored the book for this. It made me want to drop everything and paint. It is a painter’s dream to read of all the creative ways that the twins’ minds work. Although I would understand if people categorise this book as ‘weird’, this is one of my favorite books read so far this year!

The book is told from two perspectives- Noah and Jude, ranging for about three years on a floating timeline. On the outside, both the twins appear to have similar tastes and temperaments. But as the story progresses, we see sibling rivalry, parental discord, jealousy and peer pressure act on them very differently. Noah is happy to let Jude do all the talking while Jude is happy to let Noah keep painting. But this bliss is soon shattered when they begin to compete for attention, both at home and in the outside world.

The descriptions of loss are heartbreaking. The twins’ need to protect each other even while hurting each other was true of any sibling relationship. The teenage angst, the need to fit in and the learning to navigate complex personal relationships has been beautifully rendered. Noah is coming to terms with who he is but is emotionally wrung out without any support. Jude must decide if she wants to be with the popular kids or if she wants to be true to herself. All of this must be done while competing for parental affection and trying to get into the best art school in the city. It is not easy being Noah and Jude!

Although I predicted the twist in the end, I would still consider this as a 5-star read because of how much I enjoyed reading it and all of the creativity that the author incorporated into it. The artistic process, in particular, was what made me fall in love with the book and made me finish reading it in one day flat.

The Author

Jandy Nelson, like her characters in I’ll Give You the Sun and The Sky is Everywhere, comes from a superstitious lot. She was tutored from a young age in the art of the four-leaf clover hunt; she knocks wood, throws salt, and carries charms in her pockets.

Jandy, a literary agent for many years, received a BA from Cornell University and MFAs in Poetry and Children’s Writing from Brown University and Vermont College of Fine Arts. Currently a full-time writer, she lives and writes in San Francisco, California—not far from the settings of her novels. 

Her work include:

  1. The Sky is Everywhere (2010)
  2. I’ll Give You the Sun (2016)
  3. The Fall Boys and Dizzy in Paradise (To be published)

TL;DR: A beautiful book that talks of the journey that different people go through to become the people that they are meant to become


What are some of the books that took you by surprise?

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

Book review, Received for Review

Petit a Petit: Litte by Litte by Ambica Uppal

Statistics

Format: eBook (Kindle)

Length: 134 pages

Genre: Poetry

Publisher: Notion Press

Date of Publication: 17th March, 2020

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

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


I had read and loved the author’s previous book Malhaar so when I was approached by the author about reading and reviewing her second book, I quickly accepted. Unfortunately for me, the book that I ordered over Amazon could not be delivered because of restrictions in courier services during the lockdown so I began reading the ebook that the author sent.


The Blurb

Petit à Petit is a collection of simple and inspiring poetry that motivates one to dream and change the narrative of their lives. It assures you that tomorrow will be a better day and encourages you to realise your potential and achieve your aspirations. Petit à Petit is centred on themes like self-love, self-confidence and taking life into your own hands.No matter how far-away and impossible your dreams seem, don’t be afraid to reach for them.

The Book

Ambica Uppal writes poetry that speaks to the modern woman. The emotions are what each of us has felt at least once in our lives but couldn’t put into words. She is the quintessential feminist. She talks about empowering the society and equality for everyone. She asks us to re-write stories that begin with “mirror mirror on the wall”. She asks us to enable girls to wear capes and fight rather than wonder ‘who is the fairest of them all’. A sentence that really hit me was “Don’t grow thorns just because you couldn’t grow flowers“. We often see ourselves hardening our heart because of a trauma that occurred years ago. We shut ourselves off to new experiences that would have healed us. She says that it doesn’t matter if we live when we don’t give any meaning to our lives.

The book is peppered with illustrations, some of it made by the author herself. My favorite was the one showing a young child looking into a mirror that shows her her grown-up self. It is important that we grow up to live a life that the younger version of ourselves would have been proud of.

She urges us to be unique and let our light shine through. She says that there will always be sunshine after the rain so we need to believe in the strength within ourselves. I loved it when she said, “don’t go searching outside for the magic that you so preciously hold“. In a race to fit in, we have all forgotten how unique we truly are. It is time we let our true selves shine through rather than make ourselves smaller and quieter.

I also liked the concept of the heart having loose hanging wires that we need to join to re-ignite dreams. My favorite poem of all was Don’t fear, go for it. Here the author says that we are afraid to fly because we see the ceiling before we see the sky and we are afraid to dream because we see no point in it. This reminded me of one of my favorite parts in A Court of Wings and Fury where Azriel says that the main reason for not being able to learn to fly as an adult is the fear of the fall. The author also talks about how we judge a person based solely on what we see but forget that the person is made up of many hidden parts that we know nothing about. We cannot decide that we know a person based on what we perceive at a particular time.

Reading the book during the time of lockdown for the Corona Virus, I saw a lot of poems resonating with what we have all been feeling. Everybody is trying to be productive every day and seems to think that it is a race to see who comes up with the most number of new artwork or new recipes. But Ambica says “Why is life not what we get but a bunch of wants and wishes? Why is it all about chasing and trying to catch the misses?“. Another poem that spoke to me during this time of crisis was title Slow Down. It asks us to look around us and appreciate the things that we have.

While this collection of poems did not have the same hair-raising response from me as her earlier work Malhaar did, I still found a lot of poems that spoke to me on a very personal level. It is something that everyone could find that they relate to at some point in their lives.

The Author

Ambica is an Indian Canadian writer who lives in Toronto, Canada. She was born in Aizawl, an eastern city in India. Today her writings are manifestations of what she feels while experiencing things around her and poetry is just one such form in which she likes to express herself.

You can find more details of the author in my review of her book Malhaar.

Her work include:

  1. Malhaar (2018)
  2. Petit a Petit (2020)

TL;DR: A book that will resonate with everyone


What have been some of your favorite contemporary poetry book?

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

Book review, Received for Review

Crescent City: House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J Maas

Statistics

Format: Paperback

Length: 799 pages

Genre: Fantasy, Fiction, Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

Date of Publication: 3rd March, 2020

Rating: 5/5 stars

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


The ACOTAR series is one of my favourite and most re-read series ever. So when I learnt that Sarah J. Maas is coming up with a new Urban Fantasy, I knew that I had to get my hands on it. When the publisher contacted me about participating in a blog tour for the newly released book, I was over the moon. This also meant that I didn’t have to pre-order the book and wait for it to be delivered. I could get reading right away!


The Blurb

Half-Fae, half-human Bryce Quinlan loves her life. By day, she works for an antiquities dealer, selling barely legal magical artifacts, and by night, she parties with her friends, savouring every pleasure Lunathion—otherwise known as Crescent City— has to offer. But it all comes crumbling down when a ruthless murder shakes the very foundations of the city—and Bryce’s world.

Two years later, her job has become a dead end, and she now seeks only blissful oblivion in the city’s most notorious nightclubs. But when the murderer attacks again, Bryce finds herself dragged into the investigation and paired with an infamous Fallen angel whose own brutal past haunts his every step.

Hunt Athalar, personal assassin for the Archangels, wants nothing to do with Bryce Quinlan, despite being ordered to protect her. She stands for everything he once rebelled against and seems more interested in partying than solving the murder, no matter how close to home it might hit. But Hunt soon realizes there’s far more to Bryce than meets the eye—and that he’s going to have to find a way to work with her if they want to solve this case.

As Bryce and Hunt race to untangle the mystery, they have no way of knowing the threads they tug ripple through the underbelly of the city, across warring continents, and down to the darkest levels of Hel, where things that have been sleeping for millennia are beginning to stir…

The Book

A fierce but sad girl who takes no nonsense from anyone, a traumatized man with a soft and gentle heart- if you thought these concepts make Crescent City similar to all the other fantasy books that you have read, think again! This book is so much more! Here you see fierce friendship, loyalty, and betrayal, you see families by blood abandoning their wards only for families by heart to adopt them. If there is any series that might tie with ACOTAR for a place in my heart, it is this one. Another thing that I loved was that the characters are not mere teens. They are capable of shouldering the responsibilities that the author throws their way and it made their decisions much more believable to me.

The story is told from a third person’s perspective which I found refreshing. You get an unbiased view of everyone’s thought process. The little creatures introduced in the story steal your heart and break it at their will. One of the scenes that gave me goosebumps was when one of the seemingly minor characters shows courage far beyond their ability and gains everyone’s respect. Another heartbreaking scene shows how misinformation and distrust can turn people who have been friends since childhood into bitter enemies. These scenes are so well written that you don’t even realise that you are shedding tears until its too late.

I loved how the family drama was interwoven seamlessly into the actual story. The love that the siblings show towards each other, the loyalty and sacrifice of friends and the unbelievable heartbreak at losing them was beautifully rendered. The descriptions of dealing with the death of a loved one with ‘the one step forward- two steps back’ reality of obtaining mental and emotional stability were very real.

My favorite character was Hunt. He was created to be loved and it underlines the author’s prowess that he is never obnoxious nor overbearing. He is flawed and is very real. He just warms your heart and makes you want to take him home with you forever. I cannot wait to read more of these characters in the next books in the series.

The Author

Sarah J. Maas is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Throne of Glass series, as well as the A Court of Thorns and Roses series. She lives in Bucks County, PA, and over the years, she has developed an unhealthy appreciation for Disney movies and bad pop music. She adores fairy tales and ballet, drinks too much tea, and watches an ungodly amount of TV. When she’s not busy writing, she can be found exploring the historic and beautiful Pennsylvania countryside with her husband and canine companion.

Her work include:

  1. The Assassin and The Pirate Lord (2012)
  2. The Assassin and The Healer (2012)
  3. The Assassin and The Desert (2012)
  4. The Assassin and The Underworld (2012)
  5. The Assassin and The Empire (2012)
  6. Throne of Glass (2012)
  7. Crown of Midnight (2013)
  8. Heir of Fire (2014)
  9. The Assassin’s Blade (2014)
  10. Queen of Shadowns (2015)
  11. A Court of Thorns and Roses (2015)
  12. A Court of Mist and Fury (2016)
  13. Empire of Storms (2016)
  14. A Court of Wings and Ruin (2017)
  15. Tower of Dawn (2017)
  16. Kingdom of Ash (2018)
  17. A Court of Frost and Starlight (2018)
  18. Catwoman: Soulstealer (2018)
  19. Crescent City: House of Earth and Blood (2020)

You can find more details about the author and her books in my review of ACOTAR.


TL;DR: A brilliant beginning to a series that I know will have my heart forever


Do you have a book from your favourite author that you are waiting for this year?

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

Book review, Received for Review

Post Millennial Tales by Bhavya Singh and Navya Singh

Statistics

Format: Paperback

Length: 104 pages

Genre: Microtales, non-fiction

Publishers: Amaryllis Publishers

Date of Publication: 31st December, 2019

Rating: 4/5 stars

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


Navya Singh and Bhavya Singh are 12-year-old twins who run the bookstagram account @the_bookish_twins. Along with their mother Ruchi Singh, they also have a bookish merchandise shop Reading Magic where all proceeds go to charity.

I have always been awed by the talents of these young women so when Navya approached me about her first book, I knew that I wanted to read it and my instincts were spot-on this time!


The Blurb

Research has proved that the ‘Post-Millennial’ generation is unique in its social consciousness, and is the most racially and ethnically diverse generation ever.

These micro tales by a pair of 12-year-old twins, Bhavya and Navya Singh, are strikingly socially aware in their themes. Bhavya ‒ the artist, and Navya ‒ the illustrator, have put together a sensitive and relevant-to-the-times collection of tiny tales that demonstrate their mature outlook, given their age.

These young post-millennials represent dominant youth influencers of tomorrow and deserve to be heard.

The Book

The book is a collection of observations that the twins have seen in their seemingly vast experience even at their young age. Bhavya is the author while Navya is the illustrator of these microtales. The pages talk about everything from female empowerment to female infanticide, from gender gap in professional spaces to safety of women in public spaces.

I was impressed that the girls, at such a young age, have assimilated concepts that seem too big for them. The illustrations themselves tell a story of depth even with their simplicity. Each time you look at them, they show a different perspective. The book as a whole gives me hope for the next generation of thinkers and writers, dreamers and artists. This also goes to show that readers can and do experience life at a more heightened sense than do others. The fact that these two young women have managed to put those thoughts and experiences on paper is awe-inspiring.

The Authors

Bhavya Singh, the artist and Navya Singh, the writer are 12-year-old twins who study in DPS, Bhopal. They have a YouTube channel called The Inspirers and they run a small book merchandise business. All the earnings go to charity.

They are avid readers and write book reviews as well.


TL;DR: A wonderful compilation of observations that are mature considering the age of the author, the illustrations run deep with their simplicity and precision.


Do you like microtales?

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

Book review, Readathon

Sula by Toni Morrison

Statistics

Format: Ebook (Kindle)

Length: 105 pages

Genre: Fiction, Classic

Publisher: Vintage

Date of Publication: 24th July, 2007 (First published in 1973)

Rating: 4/5 stars


One of my book resolution this year is to read more of classic literature. So when I came across Binders Book Club reading Sula this month, I jumped on board. This was going to be the first time that I was reading the author and hearing how descriptive her books could be, I was glad that we picked a relatively short read for our first experience.


The Blurb

Two girls who grow up to become women. Two friends who become something worse than enemies. In this brilliantly imagined novel, Toni Morrison tells the story of Nel Wright and Sula Peace, who meet as children in the small town of Medallion, Ohio. Their devotion is fierce enough to withstand bullies and the burden of a dreadful secret. It endures even after Nel has grown up to be a pillar of the black community and Sula has become a pariah. But their friendship ends in an unforgivable betrayal—or does it end? Terrifying, comic, ribald and tragic, Sula is a work that overflows with life.

The Book

Sula is a book that talks about the evolution of African American culture just at the cusp of abolition of the slave trade. It documents their struggles along with the rich heritage and the humor that’s embedded in their life. All of this is done through the lives of two girls- Nel and Sula who are as different from each other as chalk and cheese while also being quite similar in the way that they see the world. The book is very descriptive which made the beginning a bit arduous for me. It is divided into two parts, first describes the girls’ childhoods and second shows them as adults. I preferred Part 1 over Part 2 but that is only because of my personal preference of action over description and dialogues over monologues.

I loved how the author conveyed Sula’s indecisiveness along with her strong love for herself. She is a woman who believes in not doing something just to please others. Unfortunately for her, this is a bit too ahead of her times and she is shunned by the entire town. What I appreciated about the character is that she remained steadfast in her belief and did what she thought best until her last breath. I was awed at how the author managed to incorporate this sort of character with her best friend who is more rigid and mild in her approach. We are never made to pick one girl over the other. It was wonderful to see the development of the African American community while also reading a background story of friendship and loss that seemed to tie everything together.

It is a beautiful story of growing up in households where you feel like you don’t belong, of living in a society that places stringent rules on how you are supposed to behave and casts you out if you don’t follow its rules, of young girls realizing that life is not always about doing what feels good to you and also of discovering that you cannot please everybody. They learn to deal with men and women of differing temperaments, childhood trauma, and dark secrets. What I absolutely loved was how the author managed to create a piece of work with no judgement in it. Women with multiple partners are just described as they are. Seeing as this was written in the 1970s, it is commendable that the author felt no need to direct her readers’ moral compasses. She lets us see all points of view and make our own decision.

The Author

Toni Morrison (born Chloe Ardelia Wofford) was an American author, editor, and professor who won the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature for being an author “who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality.”

Her novels are known for their epic themes, vivid dialogue, and richly detailed African American characters; among the best known are her novels The Bluest Eye Song of Solomon , and Beloved , which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988. In 2001 she was named one of “The 30 Most Powerful Women in America” by Ladies’ Home Journal.


TL;DR: A descriptive book that is steeped with African American culture


What are some of your favourite classics?

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

Advanced Review Copy (ARC), Book review, Received for Review

Infinity Son by Adam Silvera

Statistics

Format: Paperback (ARC)

Length: 368 pages

Genre: Fantasy, LGBTQ+, Fiction, Young Adult

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Date of Publication: 14th January, 2020

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

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


I loved reading What If Its Us by Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli so when I found out that Adam Silvera was coming up with a new book, I knew I had to read it. I was glad when the publishers sent an ARC of the book to me. The cover is beautiful and golden and I actually like it better than the final cover!

Infinity Son is the first book in the Trilogy Infinity Cycle, a series that promises to explore various types of Phoenixes and their powers.


The Blurb

Growing up in New York, brothers Emil and Brighton always idolized the Spell Walkers—a vigilante group sworn to rid the world of specters. While the Spell Walkers and other celestials are born with powers, specters take them, violently stealing the essence of endangered magical creatures.

Brighton wishes he had a power so he could join the fray. Emil just wants the fighting to stop. The cycle of violence has taken a toll, making it harder for anyone with a power to live peacefully and openly. In this climate of fear, a gang of specters has been growing bolder by the day.

Then, in a brawl after a protest, Emil manifests a power of his own—one that puts him right at the heart of the conflict and sets him up to be the heroic Spell Walker Brighton always wanted to be.

Brotherhood, love, and loyalty will be put to the test, and no one will escape the fight unscathed.

The Book

The book begins with the twins Emil and Brighton counting down the minutes to their birthday. They expect their 18th birthday to convert them into Celestials with unique powers. While Brighton can’t wait to join the Spell Walkers and grow his YouTube channel, all Emil wants is some peace and quiet. But everything changes when Emil finds that he has mysterious powers of his own and no matter how much he wants to get out of the fight, he has an important part to play in history.

Just like with What If Its Us, Adam Silvera’s characters do not make a big deal of their sexual identity or about coming out in Infinity Son either. Everyone’s accepted for who they are and it is a welcome change to see the LGBTQ aspect as a background to another central story. I loved the brotherhood that Emil and Brighton shared till the end. Trust and friendship are given a very high priority and it is quite uplifting to read it.

I found the entire Celestial-Spell Walker-Specter dynamic to be made more complicated than it needed to be. The action sequences were wonderful to read but it felt like the scenes skipped a bit too much of details to be cohesive. The description of each celestial with their power was beautiful. I loved the family dynamics depicted in the book and I hope that we see more of that in the rest of the books in the series.

The Author

Adam Silvera is the New York Times bestselling author of More Happy Than Not, History Is All You Left Me, and They Both Die at the End. His next book What If It’s Us is co-written by Becky Albertalli (Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda) and releases on October 9th, 2018. He writes full-time in New York City and is tall for no reason.

His work include:

  1. More Happy Than Not (2015)
  2. They Both Die at the End (2017)
  3. History is All You Left Me (2017)
  4. What If Its Us (2018)
  5. Infinity Son (2020)

TL;DR: An interesting start to a trilogy that makes you wish you had more


What are your favorite trilogies?

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

Book review

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

Statistics

Format: Hardcover

Length: 418 pages

Genre: Dystopian, Fiction, Science Fiction

Publisher: Penguin Random House

Date of Publication: 10th September, 2019

Rating: 5/5 stars


I had loved reading The Handmaid’s Tale last year. It had been one of my favorite books. So when I got to know that The Testaments was a continuation of that story, I made sure that I bought it as soon as it was published.


The Blurb

In this brilliant sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, acclaimed author Margaret Atwood answers the questions that have tantalized readers for decades.

When the van door slammed on Offred’s future at the end of The Handmaid’s Tale, readers had no way of telling what lay ahead for her–freedom, prison or death.

With The Testaments, the wait is over.

Margaret Atwood’s sequel picks up the story more than fifteen years after Offred stepped into the unknown, with the explosive testaments of three female narrators from Gilead.

The Book

The Handmaid’s Tale was scary in terms of how easily it could be the story of anyone of us. The women were all going about their normal workday just like the rest of us when their world turned upside down in an instant. If you were wondering how an entire country could have been so easily turned on its head, The Testaments has those answers for you.

While the main story was a bit too unbelievable, I loved how the author connected the two stories together. We get answers to all of the questions that the first book dug up. The descriptions of how narrow the world was for the new generation of girls that were born in Gilead was heart-breaking. But this was the main reason that it was unreasonable to assume that two young girls could manage to do something that an entire generation of women who lived in the old world could not for 15 years.

I felt that the author could have easily done away with some aspects of the story set in Canada that were a bit too slow and seemed unnecessary. But the author’s brilliant storytelling coupled with how realistic the situations were, made it worth waiting for the book for all these years.

The Author

Throughout her writing career, Margaret Atwood has received numerous awards and honorary degrees. She is the author of more than thirty-five volumes of poetry, children’s literature, fiction, and non-fiction. I’ve spoken about Margaret Atwood in my review of The Handmaid’s Tale. Find it here.


TL;DR: A fast paced book that is somewhat predictable but is brilliantly written


Is there any sequel that you are eagerly waiting for?

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

Book review, Received for Review

Murder at Moonlight Cafe and Other Stories by Ishavasyam Dash

Statistics

Format: Paperback

Length: 160 pages

Genre: Short Stories

Publisher: XPress Publishing (An imprint of Notion Press Publishers)

Date of Publication: 24th December, 2019

Rating: 5/5 stars

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


I’m not usually a fan of short stories but there was something about this one that called out to me. When the author reached out about the possibility of a review, I took it up on a whim. I was so glad to see that my instinct was right this time. I would have missed out on a really well written book.


The Blurb

Omprakash and Dilip, police officers and best buddies, are catching up at one of Manali’s poshest bars, when a most unsettling murder is committed right under their noses…

Called upon by the gods to aid them in a losing battle, Parvati creates the immensely powerful Kali—but can she save herself from the hell she has unleashed in her own marriage?

A strange spectral presence haunts a man day and night, eating away years from his life, until he takes part in an unorthodox ritual and comes face-to-face with his tormentor…

Meet Mariam—a gentle, unassuming woman in her late fifties with a strange hobby—gatecrashing funerals…

By turns delightful, morbid and whimsical, this is a collection of eleven tales that will transport you to the myriad worlds of magic realism and murder, mythology and horror, millennial mania and post-modern angst. Made-to-order for those with a taste for inventive idiosyncrasy, this book promises to provoke and entertain in equal measure.

The Book

I find that short stories are sometimes a hit and a miss. They sometimes seem too short to establish a story-line that grabs the reader’s hearts and minds. But with this collection, every story was brilliantly worded and everything was wrapped up perfectly to make each story complete in its own right. The amount of research that has gone into the book is incredible. It is wonderful to see a new author who takes so much care about getting their facts right and then showing the flair required to convert those facts into a beautiful story. The crisp editing makes it a joy to read.

We see characters who could be just about any one of us. Addicted to their social media, we see them worry about their posts and interaction, we see them create content and also get influenced by other influencers much as we all do in our daily lives. Next, we have a young professional who has done what all of us longed to do in our teens- follow our passion and work in a field that we love rather than get a ‘safe’ job like our parents told us to. We see the protagonist struggle while putting on a brave face for his family. I loved how realistic his letters home were.

We see a widow who deals with death in her own unique way. Mental health is described in a quirky way that makes us chuckle but also makes us think of ways of dealing with trauma. We also see a young YouTuber who has recently discovered her sexual identity. I loved how non-judgemental each story was. The research into various sexual identities and the way that the facts were made into a story was beautiful. I loved the story of the creation of Goddess Kali and how vices are described in the story. There are a couple of stories with relatively open endings that I enjoyed. The stories of the Monk who believes that he is the chosen one, the man who believes that there is a creature that watches him at all hours of the day, the boy who’s hair keeps growing, the young man addicted to demon blood could all be interpreted in multiple ways and I spent quite a lot of time over them. Although each story is just a few pages on its own, the depth of the matter in them makes it hard to read the entire book in one sitting. I absolutely loved the book and I’m glad that I trusted my instincts about reading it.

The Author

Ishavasyam took a sabbatical from her career in marketing to fulfil her childhood dream of writing a book. Besides weaving tall tales, she loves playing board games and belly dancing. She is a hoarder of art supplies, and has an alarming number of incomplete DIY projects. Ishavasyam lives with her husband, whom she adores to bits, to the point where she may soon give in to his incessant plea to get a dog. 


TL;DR: A brilliant collection of stories that are well researched and beautifully edited


What are some short story collections that you like?

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

Book Reveal

The Evening and the Morning by Ken Follett- Cover Reveal

Statistics

Date of Publication: September, 2020

Publisher: Pan Macmillan India




Thirty years ago, Ken Follett’s ‘The Pillars of the Earth’ was published by Pan Macmillan, which has now sold over 27 million copies worldwide. This new novel is the masterful prequel to his best-loved historical masterpiece and it is set to capture the imagination of long-term Follett fans and new readers alike.

‘Pan Macmillan has had the pleasure of working with Ken for thirty years this year, with the first title we published the international phenomenon ‘The Pillars of the Earth’. The longevity and success of our collaboration has been a source of huge pride for Pan Macmillan. The fact that today, in this anniversary year, we announce the publication of Pillars’ prequel is therefore tremendously exciting on all levels. We cannot wait for publication next year.’

Jeremy Trevathan, Publisher of Pan Macmillan

30 years on from publishing their first novel with Ken Follett, Pan Macmillan announces the publication date of Follett’s new novel, The Evening and the Morning, releasing on September 2020

(It is)…‘A journey that will end where The Pillars of the Earth begins.’ 
‘The idea for a novel often comes from a question: Why were the cathedrals built? Why did we have World War One? The Evening and the Morning started with me asking myself what Kingsbridge was like before the cathedral was built. So the new book takes us back to the turn of the first millennium 1000 AD. It’s called The Evening and the Morning because this period is the end of the Dark Ages and the beginning of the Middle Ages. I’m delighted by the reaction so far of editors to The Evening and the Morning. I hope you enjoy it.’ 

Ken Follett

The Blurb

It is 997 CE, the end of the Dark Ages, and in England one man’s ambition to make his abbey a centre of learning will take the reader on an epic journey into a historical past rich with ambition and rivalry, death and birth, love and hate.

England is facing attacks from the Welsh in the west and the Vikings in the east. Those in power bend justice according to their will, regardless of ordinary people and often in conflict with the king. Without a clear rule of law, chaos reigns.

In these turbulent times, three characters find their lives intertwined: A young boatbuilder’s life is turned upside down when the only home he’s ever known is raided by Vikings, forcing him and his family to move and start their lives anew in a small hamlet where he does not fit in. . . . A Norman noblewoman marries for love, following her husband across the sea to a new land. But the customs of her husband’s homeland are shockingly different, and as she begins to realize that everyone around her is engaged in a constant, brutal battle for power, it becomes clear that a single misstep could be catastrophic. . . . A monk dreams of transforming his humble abbey into a center of learning that will be admired throughout Europe. And each in turn comes into dangerous conflict with a clever and ruthless bishop who will do anything to increase his wealth and power.