Book review

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Statistics

Format: eBook (Kindle)

Length: 435 pages

Genre: Fantasy, Fiction

Publisher: Henry Holt and Company

Date of Publication: 4th June, 2013

Rating: 5/5 stars


The second of the Grishaverse series, I read this book immediately after the first. I found it even more riveting than Shadow and Bone and cannot wait to read the next book in the series


The Blurb

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her–or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

The Book

The book begins where the first book left off. We are treated to the Sun Summoner and her ilk injured and fleeing the Darkling and his army. They now need to find a safe haven to rest and recuperate. They are saved by the Apparat’s army and are led to the underground caves by them. It is now that the actual siege and actual storm begin.

I always find that I like the second book in a series better than any other. It happened with the ACOTAR series, the Winternight series and now with the Grisha series. This book lets us really get to know the characters. We learn why they behave the way they do and what makes them tick. Here the Darkling-Alina-Mal triangle gets complicated with Nikolai added to it but it gets more fun as well. We don’t see too much of moping from Alina which was very annoying in Shadow and Bone. I still wish that fantasy authors stayed away from the ordinary -girl-who-was-invisible-until-she-discovers-that-she has-powers-gets-an-army-of-suitors trope, I found that I quite liked reading this series. I honestly was rooting was Mal all through the series and he is my favourite tragic character.

The Author

Leigh Bardugo is a #1 New York Times bestselling author of fantasy novels and the creator of the Grishaverse. With over two million copies sold, her Grishaverse spans the Shadow and Bone Trilogy, the Six of Crows Duology, and The Language of Thorns—with more to come. Her short stories can be found in multiple anthologies, including The Best of Tor.com and the Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy. Her other works include Wonder Woman: Warbringer and the forthcoming Ninth House. Leigh was born in Jerusalem, grew up in Southern California, graduated from Yale University, and has worked in advertising, journalism, and even makeup and special effects. These days, she lives and writes in Los Angeles, where she can occasionally be heard singing with her band.


TL;DR: A fast paced and action filled book that will make you crave for the next book


What are your favourite fantasy series?

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

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Book review

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

Statistics

Format: eBook (Kindle)

Length: 848 pages

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Fiction

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

Date of Publishing: 26th February, 2019

Rating: 3/5 stars


With all the hype surrounding the book even before the ARC was distributed, I knew that I absolutely had to read it as soon as the book was out. With its 848 pages, it was going to be one of the largest books that I would have read in recent times and I was excited to see how I would rise to the challenge.


The Blurb

A world divided.
A queendom without an heir.
An ancient enemy awakens.

The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction—but assassins are getting closer to her door.

Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.

Across the dark sea, Tané has trained all her life to be a dragonrider, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel.

Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep.

The Book

The book contains every element that makes a fantasy fiction a hit among readers. It has magic and mages, queens and dragons, complicated family tree and rules of magic. I loved the fact that the main kingdom is a Queendom. As I am typing this, the in-built grammar check is pointing out that ‘Queendom’ is not a word. This makes it even more important that we make matriarchy as common a subject as patriarchy. The book is also filled with more homosexual relationships than heterosexual relationships. Although I am a big supporter of having LGBT representation in books, here it felt like the author is forcing the characters into it because that is what will get the book more popularity. It did not feel like the natural progression for some of the characters to me. However, I was really glad that same-gender marriages and couplings were such a norm in the book’s world that they could be as openly discussed in public as opposite gender couplings.

The book describes each event from various points of views. The description of the two kinds of dragons was breathtaking however I wish that certain aspects of the world were explained better. How did it come about that the eastern dragons who are regarded as Gods by the people have riders? Was there an event in history that made this a necessity? I also found quite a lot of unnecessary deaths at the beginning of the book. The deaths of Sulyard and Susa did not seem to play any part in the story development. In fact, had Susa been alive, it might have served as better motivation for Tane. Kit died too abruptly for the readers to even realise that he was dead. Although the book is peppered with deaths, none of them felt devastating for me since I had not formed a bond with any of the characters. Tane felt too wishy-washy, Sabran felt too mollycoddled in her environment, Ead felt too unrealistic and Roos felt explainably unlovable. I liked some of the minor characters like Meg and Loth. The flow of the conversation seemed jilted and forced.

For a book as long as this, I was finally beginning to be interested in the story only after about 70% of the book was completed. The complication with the Priory was predictable, as was the final battle. For all the build-up given regarding the Nameless One, he did not feature enough to be memorable. The end was abrupt and the author has left enough unsaid to validate a future second novel if she feels like it.

The Author

Samantha Shannon lives in London. She studied English Language and Literature at St. Anne’s College, Oxford. Her work has been translated into twenty-six languages. The Bone Season, the first in a seven-book series, was a New York Times bestseller and the inaugural Today Book Club selection. Film and TV rights were acquired by the Imaginarium Studios.

Her work include:

  1. The Bone Season (2013)
  2. The Mime Order (2015)
  3. The Song Rising (2017)
  4. On the Merits of Unnaturalness (2015)
  5. The Pale Dreamer (2016)
  6. The Priory of the Orange Tree (2019)

TL;DR: A book that disappointed my high expectations with its predictable and forced plot line


What are some of the books that you had been waiting to be published?

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

Book club, Book review, Readathon

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Statistics

Format: Paperback

Length: 430 pages

Genre: Fantasy, Fiction, Historic Fiction, Young Adult

Publisher: Del Ray

Date of Publication: 5th October, 2017

Rating: 5/5 stars


I received this book as a part of the January 2018 Aurora Box of Dreams. I had in fact, requested this book in place of their BOTM but as happens with the best laid plans, I just didn’t seem to be able to begin reading this book for nearly a year. With the end of 2018 fast approaching, I had a few book blog goals to complete. One of them was to read books that were on my shelf for too long. First of such books was All the Bright Places which I received as a birthday present from my Bookstagram buddies and next was The Bear and the Nightingale.

Even with this goal in mind, I did not seem to find the inclination to start reading the book. I knew it received good reviews, I was sure that I would love it but I just did not seem to begin. Finally I saw that ecstatic yet chaotic had a readathon planned for this book and the next book in the series and I took it as an opportunity to begin reading. We also plan to read the next book in the series, The Girl in the Tower in time for the release of the last book of the trilogy, The Winter of the Witch.

The book is the first in the Winternight trilogy and has won several accolades like Locus Award Nominee for Best First Novel (2018)Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Fantasy & for Debut Goodreads Author (2017)HWA Debut Crown Nominee for Longlist (2017)


The Blurb

“‘Frost-demons have no interest in mortal girls wed to mortal men. In the stories, they only come for the wild maiden.’ 

In a village at the edge of the wilderness of northern Russia, where the winds blow cold and the snow falls many months of the year, an elderly servant tells stories of sorcery, folklore and the Winter King to the children of the family, tales of old magic frowned upon by the church.

But for the young, wild Vasya these are far more than just stories. She alone can see the house spirits that guard her home, and sense the growing forces of dark magic in the woods… “

The Book

The book begins with the description of little Vasya and her rebellious excursions to the forest. I didn’t like the heroine much in the beginning but she grew on me as the story progressed. The book is fast paced with plenty of fantasy creatures that delight the reader. The influence from Russia for the landscape, the names, and the culture was very intriguing. The monsters and the demons were quite different from what we usually find and I found some of them particularly cute.

I was very glad that the author included both strong and open-minded men as well as weak, power-hungry, and superstitious ones in the story. I was even more glad to see strong female characters for  the little girl to draw inspiration from. What I really loved though, was the world building. It made everything come alive, especially the Winter King and his treasure. I was also intrigued about the subtle message to the reader regarding the importance of tradition and the call to not discard the old ways in favour of the new but to integrate them both together.

The Author

Born in Texas, Katherine studied French and Russian at Middlebury College. She has lived abroad in France and in Moscow, among other places. She has also lived in Hawaii, where she wrote much of The Bear and the Nightingale. She currently lives in Vermont.

Her work include:

  1. The Bear and the Nightingale (2017)
  2. The Girl in the Tower (2017)
  3. The Winter of the Witch (2019)

TL;DR: A fast paced book with plenty of fantasy creatures that delight and a world building that makes everything come alive.


Have you completed your reading goals for 2018?

What were they?

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

Book review

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Statistics

Norse Mythology

Format: Paperback 

Length: 283 pages

Genre: Mythology, Fiction, Fantasy, Short stories

Publisher: Bloomsbury publishers

Date of Publication: 6th March, 2018

Rating: 3/5 stars


I kept hearing rave reviews of Norse Mythology everywhere and wanted to read it. I like reading mythology and historic fiction and had previously loved Circe and The Song of Achilles that deal with Greek mythology and plenty of Indian mythology so I was very excited to start this book.


The Blurb

The great Norse myths, which have inspired so much of modern fiction, are dazzlingly retold by Neil Gaiman. Tales of dwarfs and frost giants, of treasure and magic, and of Asgard, home to the gods: Odin the all-father, highest and oldest of the Aesir; his mighty son Thor, whose hammer Mjollnir makes the mountain giants tremble; Loki, wily and handsome, reliably unreliable in his lusts; and Freya, more beautiful than the sun or the moon, who spurns those who seek to control her.

From the dawn of the world to the twilight of the gods, this is a thrilling, vivid retelling of the Norse myths from the award-winning, bestselling Neil Gaiman.

The Book

The book is divided into chapters, each describing a Norse legend. The stories of Loki’s children, of Sif’s golden hair, of Odin’s sacrifices, of Thor’s strength, and Loki’s cunning are something that we have heard of. It was good to know the real reasons and back-stories of each of them. But unfortunately, the stories seemed to bore me because of the style of writing. Almost everybody that has read Neil Gaiman’s writing raves about it so I think I must read another of his books before I boycott him completely but I did not expect this book to disappoint me so much.

The stories that really got to me all had to do with Loki and his children. The descriptions of Hel and of the wolf brother killing his younger sibling were very sad. I would begin to hate Loki for all the trouble that he causes in each story but also feel sympathetic to him when he tries to find a way out of it. As the author says, you can hate Loki but you can’t help but love him. My favourite line from the entire book is Thor saying “When something goes wrong, the first thing that I always think is, it is Loki’s fault. It saves a lot of time.” That sentence is so quintessential of both Thor and of Loki!

Some of the scenes of the Avengers movies made more sense to me after I read this book but I felt that it was a very cut-and-dry approach to storytelling. Sentences seemed to be repeating themselves and the stories skipped a bit in between and left things to the reader’s discretion. It may have been my high expectations that lead to the disappointment but I wish that the book had more to offer.

The Author

Neil Gaiman was born in Hampshire, UK, and now lives in the United States near Minneapolis. As a child he discovered his love of books, reading, and stories, devouring the works of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, James Branch Cabell, Edgar Allan Poe, Michael Moorcock, Ursula K. LeGuin, Gene Wolfe, and G.K. Chesterton. Gaiman credits librarians with fostering a life-long love of reading.

Neil Gaiman is credited with being one of the creators of modern comics, as well as an author whose work crosses genres and reaches audiences of all ages. He is listed in the Dictionary of Literary Biography as one of the top ten living post-modern writers and is a prolific creator of works of prose, poetry, film, journalism, comics, song lyrics, and drama.


TL;DR: A quick read with multiple short stories that explain the Norse Gods and their myths


Do you like reading mythology?

What is your favourite?

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

Book review, Received for Review

Sophie Washington: Secret Santa by Tonya Duncan Ellis

Statistics

Format: Paperback 

Length: 120 pages

Genre: Children’s Fiction

Publisher: Page Turner Publishing

Date of Publication: 9th September, 2018

Rating: 5/5 stars

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


Kay Macleod organised an Indie Advent Calendar like she has been doing for the last two years. Through the advent calendar I met several authors and Tonya was one of them. I love reading children’s fiction. This seemed to be the perfect read for the Christmas season and I was very excited to read it.


The Blurb

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Christmas is three weeks away and a mysterious “Santa” has been mailing presents to sixth grader Sophie Washington in this adorable, illustrated chapter book for middle grade readers. There is no secret Santa gift exchange going on at her school, so she can’t imagine who it could be. Sophie’s best friends, Chloe, Valentina, and Mariama guess the gift giver is either Nathan Jones or Toby Johnson, two boys in Sophie’s class who have liked her in the past, but she’s not so sure.

Sophie uncovers clues to find her secret Santa and the final reveal is bigger than any package she’s opened on Christmas morning. It’s a holiday surprise she’ll never forget!

The Book

The story revolves around sixth grader Sophie Washington, her family and friends, especially her little brother Cole with his corny jokes who was my favourite. It is almost time for christmas break when sophie begins to receive packages from her Secret Santa. In the boxes she finds her favourite candies, a gingerbread house, and jewelry. She racks her brain to figure out who could be sending things to her and how they know what her favourite things are.

Along with this vein of mystery, the book also has other important aspects like dealing with bullies, forgiveness, and the importance of friendship and which makes it a wholesome read. I was reminded of Enid Blyton books because of the very clear distinction between right and wrong, good family values, and kids who are still innocent and likable. I now desparately want to read all the books in the series for their feel good factor.

The Author

Tonya Duncan Ellis is the author of the Reader’s Favorite “Five Star” rated Sophie Washington children’s books series, geared toward readers ages 8 to 12 and is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). She has received awards for literary excellence and worked as a journalist and freelance magazine writer.

Tonya was born and raised in Louisville, KY and has also lived in Michigan, South Carolina, Louisiana, Missouri, Indiana, London, England, and Strasbourg, France. She currently resides in Houston, TX. When she’s not writing, the author enjoys reading, biking, swimming, travel and spending time with her husband and three children. 

Her work include:
1. Sophie Washington: Queen of the Bee (2013)

2. Sophie Washington: Things you Didn’t Know About Sophie (2013)

3. Sophie Washington: The Snitch (2014)

4. Sophie Washington: The Gamer (2017)

5. Sophie Washington: Hurricane (2018)

6. Sophie Washington: Mission Costa Rica (2018)

7. Sophie Washington: Secret Santa (2018)


TL;DR: A feel good book with mystery, humor and wholesome values


What did you do this Christmas season?

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

Book review, Received for Review

Heirs of Power by Kay Macleod

Statistics

Format: Paperback 

Length: 362 pages

Genre: Fantasy, Fiction, Young Adult

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Date of Publication: 15th October, 2016

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

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


I requested a copy of the book from the author as a part of the Indie Advent Calendar. Kay is the nicest person and I am having the best time interacting with her. She has a cool concept with the advent calendar where she provides opportunities for indie authors and bloggers to meet and collaborate.


The Blurb


After stumbling upon an otherworldly ritual, Kitty Fairlow discovers that her own incredible hunting skills are not merely due to a lifetime of training. She has been gifted powers from an ancient spirit, passed down by her father. She is a Constellation.
And she’s not the only one.
A new generation of heroes have each inherited unique abilities in order to prevent the corruption of their world by the Tenebri, a race that thrives on life energy. Kitty, along with a high-born Dancer and a snarky Juggler, must find their allies before the Tenebri army picks them off.
With the powerful enemy emerging, can the Constellations gather in time to put an end to the threat for good, or will their foe succeed and wreak the same destruction they have unleashed on their own world?

The Book

The book begins with the usual premise of a young, smart, and athletic girl discovering her hidden powers and ancestry. She is protected by her father but has her own set of family tragedies that put things in perspective for her when she is forced to make tough decisions. I was glad to see that the author did not make her inaccessible as most authors do. Kay shows that a female character can be tough and strong but at the same time, nurturing and sweet. I did feel that Kitty was a bit of a pushover in the first half of the book but as the story progressed, she started to stand up for herself and it made me respect her more.

What felt unbelievable to me was the fact that these were just second generation Constellations but none of the civilians seem to remember the war. A war, no matter how secret, would have affected the lives of hundreds of people and they would still be in the process of rebuilding. I surprised myself by being suspicious of every new character when they were introduced. I wonder when I got so cynical and I love the fact that books give us a peek into our very own souls.

The book has both action and humor. I enjoyed the banter between Kitty and Asher. But I felt that for a book that is 362 pages long, the story did not progress as much as I hoped it would. A couple of chapters very a tad bit slow but I attributed it to the need for the introduction of so many new characters. The author managed to flawlessly introduce concepts of energy beings and various powers without overwhelming the reader. The book is the perfect launchpad for the next book in the series and I hope that we get to see a meatier storyline in the sequel.

The next book in the series- The Mage-Lord’s Legacy is set to release on the 9th of December. The cover and blurb are available on the author’s Instagram here.

The Author

Kay Macleod is a fantasy addict who has always loved the concept of magical worlds.

She was the kid with dragons doodled around the edge of her school work, the one with her head constantly buried in a book. As a teen, she shunned partying to play Magic the Gathering and DM Dungeons and Dragons games.

Through the years, she always made up stories and took characters on amazing adventures, in the privacy of her own mind and later felt the need to share them with other people.

Kay lives with her husband and cat in Nottinghamshire in England. When she is not writing (or planning something  about writing) she is usually working, reading, playing bass for her church’s worship team, playing computer games (World of Warcraft, Dragon Age, Pokemon, Minecraft) or drinking tea.


TL;DR: A book filled with witty characters that makes you want to read the next book in the series


What is your favourite fantasy series?

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

Book club, Book review

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Statistics

Format: eBook (Kindle) PicsArt_08-18-03.09.33-min

Length: 378 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fiction, Mental Health

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf

Date of Publication: 6th January, 2015

Rating: 5/5 stars


All the Bright Places was one of the BOTM for the Book Club. I love reading for bookclubs and readlongs because it is an almost sure thing that the books are going to be great. WE also find a lot of different interpretations of a story which makes for interesting discussions.

The book is apparently also being adapted into a movie which will be interesting. I am always on the look out for more books that deal with mental health because it cannot be talked about enough so I was very excited about reading it.


The Blurb

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.
 
Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.
 
When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

The Book

On the surface, All the Bright Places is a tried and tested story. A troubled boy and a sweet girl with a tragic past are brought together for a project and each one helps the other in ways that they do not understand and they fall hopelessly in love with each other. We have read hundreds of books and watched thousands of movies with the same plot. What makes this book different is the way each issue was handled. Mental health was not made trivial nor was it romanticized. It was reiterated that professional help is required and an individual cannot fight his way out without a strong support system.

I loved the character of Violet. She was not inherently good or bad. Her shades of gray made her endearing. Her struggles with guilt and trying to put on a brave face for her parents were moving. I did not take to Finch’s character so easily. I did not like the way that he expected the world to dance to his tunes while he did what he pleased. This issue cropped up again when Finch threw rocks at Violet’s window and threatened to wake up the whole neighbourhood if she didn’t go out in the middle of the night with him to god knows where. I wish authors would stop turning situations like this into something desirable. It sets a bad precedent when a girl who is clearly not comfortable with a situation is coerced into doing something because ‘it is good for her’.

I was glad that the author stayed true in descriptions of depression and manic. She did not try to miraculously find a cure for it nor suggest that falling in love with Violet and having those feelings reciprocated could cure Finch of his disease. I grew to like his character towards the middle of the book especially with the running for flowers scene. Having said that, I must applaud the author for painting this realistic picture and showing that dealing with mental illness is no joke.

The Author

All the Bright Places is Jennifer Niven’s first book for young adults. By the time she was ten, she had already written numerous songs, a poem, two autobiographies, a Christmas story, several picture books, a play, a series of prison mysteries, a collection of short stories and a partially finished novel.

In 2000 she started writing full-time, contributing to her web magazine and dabbling in TV. Although she grew up in Indiana, she now lives in Los Angeles.

Her work include:

  1. The Ice Master (2000)
  2. Ada Blackjack (2003)
  3. The Aqua Net Diaries (2009)
  4. Velva Jean Learns to Drive (2009)
  5. Velva Jean learns to Fly (2011)
  6. Becoming Clementine (2012)
  7. American Blonde (2014)
  8. All the Bright Places (2015)
  9. Holding up the Universe (2016)

TL;DR: A beautifully written book that made me cry and put me in a big time book-coma


What are some of the books that you liked that dealt with mental health?

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

Book review, Received for Review

Horse Town by Moshank Relia

Statistics

Format: Paperback IMG_20181016_130023_580-min

Length: 74 pages

Genre: Children’s fiction

Publisher: Pigeon Post Literary Press

Date of Publication: 1st October, 2018

Rating: 5/5 stars

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


I love reading children’s books. They have an innocence about them that is always missing in every other genre. I had heard good reviews for the author’s debut book so I jumped at the chance to read this one when the author offered a review copy.

The Blurb

Horse Town is a story of two boys who are brought together by chance and bound together by their willingness to make sacrifices to each other- and strangers. The young boys, Arjun and Maruthi, live together in a single room, scraping together a meagre living by doing odd jobs.
Beside their residence looms the mansion of the reclusive Uncle Grim, a mysterious man who inexplicably receives free food and services from the townspeople. Uncle Grim is even rumoured to practice magic!
When two other boys from the town go missing and Arjun’s hard-earned coins begin to disappear, Arjun and Maruthi search for answers. Something has to explain these strange events. Could it be the peculiar and private Uncle Grim?

The Book

Horse Town is a short but sweet read. The book has beautiful illustrations both on the cover and on the inside by the author. It is a story of trust, friendship, and bonding. The story revolves around two orphan boys who have only each other to rely upon. Arjun has been living on his own for three years and his heart goes out to Maruthi who seems abandoned on the streets. He takes on the responsibility of creating a respectable life for the younger boy even though his efforts seem to be in vain.

The character of Uncle Grim gives the story a much-needed oomph. What was a simple story until then, takes a turn towards a mystery. We find ourselves rooting for Arjun at every turn. I was heartbroken when he believes that his trust was misplaced.

The story has you on your toes right until the end wondering who the culprit really is. It has naivety, intrigue, mystery and lightheartedness that make it a very ‘feel good’ book. It highlights the human nature of suspicion and showcases how important it is to trust your gut.

The author kept in mind the age of the book’s audience. The font is comfortable to read and the illustrations are simple to understand. The book can also be used as a readalong in schools or for parents that want to introduce the concept of trust, hard work, and friendship to young readers.

The Author

Moshank Relia is a graduate in English literature and has earned certificates in creative writing, sketching and theatre. He also holds a diploma in photography and has worked as a fashion photographer. He has trekked a number of high-altitude ranges in the Himalayas, including the mighty Rupin Pass (15,250ft.), Kedarkantha (12,850ft.) and the Kuari Pass (12,516ft.). His love for adventure, his deep affection for kids and his wide-ranging creative experiences drove him to write children’s fiction. Even though he is based in New Delhi, he can often be found sauntering along Camel Back Road, Mussoorie, where he spent most of his teenage years.

His work include:

  1. Adventures in Farland (2017)
  2. Horse Town (2018)

TL;DR: A short but in no way simple read that introduces concepts of trust, friendship and hard work to young readers


What was your favourite book as a kid?

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

Book review, Received for Review

Men and Dreams in the Dhauladhar by Kochery C. Shibu

Statistics

Format: Paperback

men and dreams in the dhauladhar

Length: 283 pages

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: Niyogi Books

Date of Publication: 3rd August, 2015

Rating: 2.5/5 stars

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


I had seen this book doing the rounds on Bookstagram and was curious. When the author asked me if I would review the book, I was a bit apprehensive with all the warnings that I was given regarding the technical aspects in the book. But I was also curious since I have been known to end up liking technically sound books.


The Blurb

A hydro power project in the remote Himalayas.
Three people brought together by fate. Nanda, an engineer from Kerala at the dam construction site hiding from his past, from the law, torn between the love of his dear ones and the traditional kalari code of revenge.
Khusru, a boy displaced from his native village in Kashmir, a gambit in the terror plot threatening to blow up the dam, working as a labour at the site.
Rekha, a Kathak dancer in heart, a doctor by profession, arrives at the campsite as the consort of Khusru.
A village that accepts the dictates of modernity with a heavy heart, its population steeped in superstitions and religious beliefs.
All throng the camp site like moths to a flame. Some escape untouched,successful; some miss a step and perish.
Each has a story to tell and a dream to realize. The fury of nature and hardship of project life has no mercy for the weak and time for the dead.
Like an eternal spectator the Dhauladhar watches as men risk their limb and life in their quest to full fill their dreams.

The Book

The book is divided into chapters that describe the life of different characters and how the choices of each person lead them towards a common destiny. I love books that take what look like random strangers and build the story in a way that their life decisions interconnect them with each other to form a common story. It was nice to see the book achieve this goal towards the end. The beginning of the book was also intriguing where the author gives us backstory to each character. The middle of the book though felt a bit too long.

I always prefer dialogue and action over description. That being said, I have liked descriptive books when the descriptions help make the story. Unfortunately, in this book, I felt that the descriptions did not do much to further the story. Had all the part of dam building and interaction between the workers been removed, the story would not have really changed. It just felt like fluff that the author added to increase the number of pages of the book to an acceptable amount. Had he concentrated more on the military aspects of terrorism or just concentrated on the intricacies of each character like he did in the beginning, it would have made for a better reading. I was surprised to find that I almost liked the actual technical aspects of building of the dam. It was the frivolous conversations between the labourers and the mundane details of their lives that got to me. The random use of vernacular also felt unnecessary. The author may have tried to bring in authenticity to the story by incorporating slangs but it did not flow smoothly and made for a very jarring reading experience.

The descriptions of the mountains, the terrains, and snow-capped peaks reminded me of my own trip to Kashmir, Darjeeling, and Gangtok. The premise of the terrorist with good intentions, the brilliant girl with a wild heart, and the simple man forced into a family feud were believable having grown up watching Bollywood movies in the same vein. I would have loved to read more on each character in order to make them feel more real. I would also have liked to see what happened to the terrorists’ plan and to know the reason for them picking the Dhauladhar dams as their site of terror attacks. It felt like the book ended a tad too abruptly.

The Author

Kochery C Shibu graduated from the prestigious National Defence Academy in 1981. He has served in the Indian Navy and commanded two warships. Post his retirement he has executed hydroelectric projects in the Cauvery river basin in Karnataka, Beas river basin in Himachal and Teesta river basin in Sikkim. He holds a postgraduate degree in Defence Studies from Chennai University, and MA in English literature from Pune University.
Men and Dreams in the Dhauladhar is his debut novel. The technical content of the novel, namely the setting up of a hydro-project is drawn from his experience in these projects since 2005, as are many of the characters inspired from those whom he encountered on site.
Kochery C Shibu was born in Kochi and now lives in Bangalore with his wife and daughter.


TL;DR: A book with very detailed descriptions of events that is sure to be liked by people who like description over dialogue


What do you prefer?

Description, dialogue or action?

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

Book review, Received for Review

A Flight of Broken Wings by Nupur Chowdhury

Statistics

Format: eBook (Kindle) IMG_20180928_131021_747.jpg

Length: 313 pages

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy

Publisher: Self-published

Date of Publication: 18th August, 2018

Rating: 4/5 stars

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


I enjoy reading fantasy and was pleased when the author asked me to review the book. It is the first book in the series- The Aeriel Chronicles and I look forward to reading more from the author.


The Blurb

Six hundred years ago, humanity rose up in revolt against the Aeriels, who were driven from earth and back into their homeland of Vaan after a bloody and glorious war.

Eight years ago, Ruban’s home was destroyed and his family murdered by an Aeriel. 

When a new Aeriel threat looms over Ragah, the capital city of Vandram, Ruban Kinoh must do everything in his power to avenge his family’s past and protect the future of his country. 

Which is hard enough without being saddled with a pretty and pompous aristocrat, who seems as useless as he is vain. Faced with a conspiracy that might cost humanity its hard-won freedom, and accompanied by the bejeweled and glitter-clad Ashwin Kwan, Ruban begins his journey into a land where the past and the future intertwine.

The Book

The book begins with the Emancipation Day celebrations where we are given a hint to the state of the Earth after being freed of the dreaded Aeriel rule. Ruban is the world’s best Hunter and is tasked with a mission to protect the reinforced weapons and to hunt rogue Aeriels but also to his chagrin, to babysitting the aristocrat Ashwin from Zain. Ashwin appears to be the typical royal with his charm and pampered upbringing. He does not seem to realise the importance of keeping state secrets and loves to be the center of attention, giving TV interviews without consulting anyone. While Ruban laments his bad luck, he finds that making new friends may not be as bad as he thought. It certainly has its advantages, like his life being saved by the naive Zainian.

The descriptions of the Aeriels reminded me of my favourite TV series- Supernatural, with their white feathers, energy blasts and their ability to appear almost human. The author is very descriptive which lead the first couple of chapters to feel a tad long and winding. However, when the action began in the third and fourth chapters, I couldn’t get enough of the book. The relationship between the Hunting partners Ruban and Simani was very balanced and friendly with mutual love and respect. It was great to see that the author did not feel the need to add a romantic angle to the relationship as most authors are wont to do. It reaffirmed my belief that a book with a platonic relationship between members of opposite genders works just as well, or better than a book with a romantic theme. I also enjoyed the witty banter between Ruban, Vikram, and Ashwin. The conversations throughout the book were light and breezy and felt very real.

I was happy to see that there were no technical loopholes in the story even though the author had the task of keeping all the abilities of the Aeriels and their history straight. The powers of the sif and the energy beings were satisfactorily explained although I did spend the best part of three chapters wondering what a sif was. The only problem that I faced with the book was the lengthy descriptions towards the beginning and the end.  That however, is a personal opinion since I prefer dialogue and action over description. I am sure that readers who love descriptive writing will love these parts of the book. The middle third of the book was fast paced and kept me on my toes guessing what was going to happen next. My favourite character was Ashwin and I would love to read more of him in the next books of the series. I pat myself on the back for correctly guessing the perpetrator but that might just be the result of me having read too many books in the genre.

The Author

Apart from novels, Nupur Chowdhury enjoys writing poetry and the occasional short story. She was four when she started writing. Now, some 20 years later, it’s more an addiction than a hobby.

Nupur likes coffee, street food, fanfiction, and sleep. She dislikes yogurt, slow internet, unnecessary cliffhangers, and being woken up in the morning. You can find her on Facebook, Wattpad, Goodreads, and Amazon.

Her work includes:

  1. The Classroom Effect (2015)
  2. A Flight of Broken Wings (2018)

TL;DR: A fun fantasy with lovable characters that will make you want to keep reading till the very end


What are some of your favourite fantasy series?

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