Sunday, December 28, 2014

REVIEW: Endgame: The Calling - James Frey and Nils Johnson-Shelton


I’ll deal with the controversy first; get it out of the way, and then deal with the actual book. My Twitter feed was inundated with Endgame links (which appeared to be a treasure hunt) and the promotion was crazy. In order to understand what the ballyhoo was all about (as I tend to do when wary of hype surrounding anything), I googled extensively and came across the phenomenon that was James Frey. And his Full Fathom Five. And other book packaging companies. And the faux-memoir A Million Little Pieces. I was also surprised to discover that he was one half of Pittacus Lore of The Loren Legacies fame. But more than that, I guess I was shocked (and I admit, felt a little betrayed) when I realized how much the book industry is considered a business.

I am not that person who thinks that the end justifies the means. But I am also not that person who is incapable of separating the creator from that which (s)he has created. (If I didn’t, I would not have tried The Host by Stephanie Meyer and The Mediator by Meg Cabot; both of which are reasons why I am proud of myself). Once a book has been born, it’s got a life of its own – it lives simply because it has to – needs to. The creator no longer owns it – that’s my stance anyways (that’s what Walt Whitman said too). So I made up my mind to judge this book for itself and not who and how it was written – despite my opinions on either of them.   

So, yes, we’re now getting to the book. Once I finished it and scrolled through the Goodreads reviews, I realized I wasn’t the only one who felt like the concept was a la Hunger Games deja-vu. And for good reason. The blurb sure felt like one, and ultimately that is the whole plot. Twelve tribes send in their Players (who have to satisfy the age eligibility criteria) from among which, one will emerge the winner after the bloodbath. The prize is different though. Instead of nice food and a warm hearth, you get to survive the apocalypse.

I can’t remember the last time it took me this long (a week, to be exact) to finish a book. Hell, I finished the 800-something pages of HP Book 5 within 36 hours. It wasn’t that the pace was slow, there were too many characters who were fighting for page-space. Too many to keep track of. I had over-ambitious plans for this book – I’d even registered for Endgame, because I like meself a good puzzle, but it was a chore reading this one. For each sitting, there was the initial starting trouble; there always seemed to be something better to do than read the book. I thought I was going to have to mark it a DNF. It’s not very professional of me to admit this, but I can’t guess at the reason why – too many characters and the personal drama that ensued – maybe, yes – but that’s not good enough a reason. The narration written in the present tense (especially An’s distinctive POV) had the appropriate dramatic flair to it, which makes me wish for the movie version of it. I also unconsciously worked out some “clues” before the Players did and the victorious feeling that followed the epiphany is pretty nice. But I’m too high on the holiday cake and wine, and I can’t find it in me to figure the rest out, I just wanted to move on as quickly as possible. The book failed in its primary mission as far as I am concerned.
So I did what I do best. I took out my critic eyeglass and looked through it, treating The Calling as a book and not some treasure map. I should now mention that I didn’t like any of the characters, so there was no point in asking who I rooted for. And maybe that was intentional, I mean hello, they had been trained to kill since they were born. So a more valid question would be who I hated the least. The one character that I sympathised with dies in the end, and another one that I thought kicked some butt also kicked the bucket. The mortality rate is worrying, but only predictably so. I also detested the Christopher-Sarah-Jago dramaction going on. It was pretty hard to not judge them.
Then the author inaccuracies turned up. I have lived in Dubai for close to two decades and I didn’t realize that sandstorms were this popular here. I mean, wherever did Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol get that idea too, eh? Dubai also doesn't allow boyfriends and girlfriends to share a hotel room, someone please tell that to Kala and Christopher. Also, the Harappan, Shari Chopra (who is seventeen years old), already has a kid named Alice (which sounds pretty Christian to me) with her husband Jamal (which is a popular Muslim name). The circumstances that could have led to such a family are remote – especially if she was trained in the family – which is obviously upper caste –  who would have married her off only after she was at least 18, and that too, to another Hindu boy. She couldn’t have eloped; not if she was a Player.

But let me put this right. This is a good read. I have a feeling that maybe it was supposed to be as good and un-put-downable as a Dan Brown thriller and for reasons inexpressible, it didn’t make that cut, but comes close enough. There has evidently been a lot of research done and sleep sacrificed and I acknowledge that. And the talent required to handle these many characters simultaneously, giving them individual voices, is laudable.


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Confessions of a K-Dramaholic

Hold your judgements, people. Before you snort in disgust at my apparent two-facedness (since I seemingly can’t stand romantic literature but you’re still seeing this post), allow me to explain.

You might have noticed the disturbing gap between my last post and this one when I promised you in November that my winter break was going to up this space’s tempo. That didn’t happen, because, er, sometimes even after you’ve finished off a TV series marathon, you can’t get closure, so you fast forward through it again – probably by using hostages to explain to your parental authorities that you’re merely stuck in front of your laptop because your hostage made you watch it with her. Definitely not the other way round. Naturally, my TBR pile got bigger (because, I can’t resist buying books with BUY 2 GET 1 FREE stickers) and my e-ARCs are pushing themselves to their expiry date. My roommates were disgusted by what they saw; my parents let their jaws drop when they caught me making soppy eyes at the screen when the actors touched lips for a long time with music playing in the background (HOW IS THAT CALLED KISSING I WANT TO KNOW) and I decided I needed to explain WHY. (To myself, first and foremost.) And I also, uh, needed a post ASAP.


  • Okay. So the dialogues are cheesy. Extremely. But I am fully prepared to accept that it might be because of the translation problems. In order to fully understand this issue, I thought of translating popular Hindi and Malayalam songs (which are pure poetry) into English in my head and that exercise killed me. Because poetry in Malayalam = Cheesiness in English. Same problems, maybe? But there all lots of little phrases of wisdom peppered throughout and some one-liners that made me roll around laughing, clutching my belly.
  • And the drama is extravagantly so. Yes, that’s there. I felt like pulling out my hair every time a new iceberg kept cropping up to drive my ship apart. The money-driven mother, the obsessed fiancé, the random admirer, the jealousy and self-sacrifice involved in all of the above, was just too much on my nerves. I know it’s going to be a happy ending, so can you get there already?


(Insert a heartbreakingly huge sigh here) I mean. Just look at them. Even the supporting actors. And the villains. They do look … not as manly as I would have liked, but they’re still so. I mean. Uh. Um.

  • The Badass Heroines
I don’t care if they use stunt-doubles. I really don’t. It’s the character they portray that matters. All of Geum Jan Di’s roundhouse kicks made my eyes bulge out in envy. Her sarcasm and yelling. Who knew walking, talking death threats could be so cute too?

Cha Eun Sang’s altruistic talents. Her penchant for issuing empty threats.

Park Gae In: Weirdness. Obtuseness. Fierce Friend Protector. And her enviable ability to eat anything, anywhere, anytime.

Kim Na Na’s jealousy. Her taking responsibility for her own feelings. Her survival skills, both emotionally and otherwise. And man, can she shoot an outlaw.

The hero and the heroine have a theme song to themselves. The anti-hero or the third corner of the love triangle has one for every time he looks at the girl. One for the girl lost in thought. One for every time the male corners of the triangle fight. One when something ominous is going to happen. And they are all so good, man.
  • The Direction and The Camera
Just like how the writing style of a book determines whether or not I like the plot, the director’s abilities clinches it for me. The very strategically inserted flashbacks (yes, sometimes, they do go overboard with it). The nightmares whenever the hero is stuck at a crossroads. How they include the weather elements like the sun, snow and wind for the emotional scenes. The STUNTS, man. And I simply can’t resist making wallpapers out of my screenshots every time.
  • The Bloopers
Okay. Yes, I’m cheating with this absolutely unnecessary plus point. It doesn’t hurt at all to watch them, though.

Lee Min Ho weird dancing
I just needed to use this GIF somewhere

Saturday, December 13, 2014

When The Authors Get It Wrong

That is one damn scary thought. I really don’t have any statistical proof when I say this; just making a naïve observation, but I think that the majority of bookworms lead extraordinarily ordinary lives. As in not terminally ill, not a psychopath, not an assassin, have never been raped, don’t have Asperger’s, don’t have LGBT related acceptance issues, are not Holocaust victims, don’t have dead parents, lovers, or best friends. And that one line just described the themes explored in about the majority of realistic YA novels.

So why are they written? If I had cancer (God forbid), I really don’t think I would have like to read The Fault In Our Stars ­– would you? Would you like to read about how a girl in remission meets her one true love at a support group who in the end dies? Or My Sister’s Keeper where Kate’s cancer felt like some deux ex machina tool to find a boyfriend who also dies? I’d most probably read some chick-lit day in and out and celebrate Meg Ryan and Katherine Heigl movies and lots of K-drama. And maybe some of those inspirational books people in my life feel obligated to buy me.

So these stories are written for the sake of the ones with extraordinarily ordinary lives. So that we can empathize – like Atticus advises Scott to climb into someone’s skin and walk around it if she wanted to understand a person. All this bigotry and hate in this world bubbles up from the fear of the unknown – maybe gays are mistakes of God and they are just a blemish on this world, right? Thus marks the entry of anti-LGBT activists.

Speaking for myself, I would have to say that books made me a better person. It is with some shame that I admit this, but I’ve been brought up in a society that is extremely prejudiced. Where mentally-challenged kids are openly referred to as “retards” – I haven’t heard a more polite term in my mother-tongue. Where gays are freak shows. Where cancer patients are regarded as sorry sights. (Please don’t judge us – we’re growing).

So that now we’ve answered the question of Why These Books, let’s move on to the title of this post. How thorough is your book? It’s shit-scary even contemplating about writing a book that features these issues – I mean, damn it, how do you do justice to your character? Fine, so you have a way with words and you feel like there’s a story waiting to be told. But your character’s voice. His agony. Her strength. How do you put it into words if you’ve never been through it, personally?

Research. Lots of it. Interviews with people like your character, their loved ones, doctors, psychologists, reading memoirs, war-accounts – the whole shebang. Katherine Stockett wrote about her fears of not being able to write in the voice of a wronged black maid in the South in the Author’s Note in her The Help. And I totally understand her. I don’t know much the book came under fire for political incorrectness but I do know that it affected me in some way. And GOD – Jodi Picoult. See for an idea of the research involved in her books. Just reading it made me tired and awed at these superheroes. And maybe you should also read Patricia McCormick’s Sold and Never Fall Down and Cut to expand your list of brave authors.

But what if they are still wrong? Murphy’s Law, being what it is, is bound to turn up author inaccuracies. The idea of this post came when I was scrolling through the reviews on GR after I had finished reading Laurie Halse Anderson’s Wintergirls. While I was reading the book, the thought that kept popping was why the hell she was known as the Author of Speak when Wintergirls was this good. If you aren’t a cutter (like me), don’t have an eating disorder (like me), don’t know what it feels like to hear that your best friend committed suicide (like me), then like me, you will feel short of breath at the magic Anderson wields with mere words. I mean. That Book. Is. Just. And I provided those conditional clauses in my judgement because I really don’t know how you would feel about it if you were Lia. It’s not a book you read curled up with a coffee in hand; it’s a book you clutch to firmly trying shit-hard not to fucking cry, and pray for girls like Lia and Cassie. So once I had recommended my GR friends how they should really read it, I happened to see some other reviews. That left me confused. So what was LHA doing? Merely showing off her writing skills and shamming us?

I don’t know the answer to that question. I don’t know if Jacob in Jodi Picoult’s House Rules is who a kid with Asperger’s actually is. I don’t know if Gabe in Beautiful Music For Ugly Children represents the trapped individual living in a body of the opposite sex. I don’t know if closure is as elusive as it was for Oskar Schell in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. But I do know that these books needed to be written because else we would continue thinking that we were “normal” or "okay" and they weren’t. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

REVIEW: After The End - Bonnie Dee


I have defined myself a reading comfort zone, much like any bookworm I know. And I have put up NO ENTRY TRESPASSERS BEWARE OF SCATHING REVIEWS signs all over its perimeter for any genre that doesn’t meet the eligibility specifications.

I have a “thing” against contemporary horror, be it movies or books – I hated Goosebumps when I was younger and the last horror movie that I saw till the credits rolled in was The Ring (it was not even in English and that shitty movie still managed to scare the pants of the poor seventh grader me). Even now when people ask me my favourite horror movie, I scoff and snort and say it’s against My Principle. Only people who know me best know it’s because even my fourth grader cousin can still manage to make me scream when she says BOO out of nowhere.

And we’re back to the main story after that bit of prerequisite knowledge.

I wasn’t blind. I did read the blurb before I started reading this book and I knew it was all about a zombie apocalypse. ZOMBIES. And somehow I also knew that this was going to be different from Warm Bodies (which I loved – YOU GO R) and I thought –

I needed to take risks. I needed to get out of my comfort zone. SO SHOULD YOU (if you haven’t done already).

Again. Back to the main story. (SERIOUSLY. GET A HOLD OF YOURSELF, A)

This book is a How To Survive A Zombie Apocalypse For Dummies reference book for your survival kit in preparation for Doomsday. It had a methodical style of narration, treating the plot as a case study for some zombie apocalypse drills, in case you wanted to try it. And I actually didn’t have a problem with that – I even admired it for not over-dramatizing it. And there were plenty of rational observations here and there – like ‘how people have a tendency to cling to something while the world fell apart’, how people automatically look for authority when they are in shock and don’t know how to deal with it, and how the possibility for sexual tensions developing between two people is still an inconvenient reality to be reckoned with – after all “A person would cling to any flotsam after a shipwreck”.
It was evident that every detail had been taken care of – whenever the suspicious critic reared its ugly head, that point would be justified quickly. For example, I was beginning to seethe about how the impromptu band of survivors had quickly divided themselves into the stay-at-home-females cooking and home-making, while the men went out for the hunting and raiding and Lila observed how the “gender roles reared their ugly heads in a crisis” and I was happy again, because it was a conscious plot development rather than a prejudiced one, and the most important – dealing with Survivor’s Guilt.

Of course, there were a lot of “Bleargh” personal moments in response to some cliché dialogues and cheesy love declarations, and they were soon followed by another character’s observation that I was indeed right.

But then, the third-person POV really pissed me off at times – whenever it cast a certain character in a negative light. If it was first-person, it wouldn’t have been a problem since the judgement of a character could be chalked up to his judgemental charcter. But when third-person is used, the judgement reads like a fact, and then it feels like the reader isn’t allowed to have an alternate opinion of that character.
Which sucks. Because as far as I know, even “bitchy sluts” care about someone.

VERDICT: 3.5 stars

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

End of November (AKA The Month I Died A Slow Death And Also Killed A Dragon In The Process)

If you noticed my last post (with an addendum) in which I announced my intention to wilfully die by my own hand, you might understand what this post is all about. My Whatsapp and Gmail statuses were all about slow agonizing deaths (they still are, I’m too lazy to update them). This post deals with the pros and cons of the month that was November.

Yes, I realize that November officially ended three days back, but for me, it got over only yesterday when I finished the one paper that I was supposed to be done with on Nov 26 but was postponed. And I didn’t even complete the requisite hours of sleep that was overdue the last month, because I wanted to re-watch 2005 Pride and Prejudice, for reasons that will be clarified shortly.

First of all, my exams sucked and that it not a point I want to glorify. Long story short: ginormous textbooks + 24 hours a day + me=no sleep + shitty answer paper.
Then, as you know, I decided to become a Wrimo for the first time ever, even after I had considered the following facts:
  1. I have never written a novel before my entire life (please, no judgement)
  2. I did not spend October doing the necessary chapter-outlining and the other such exercises to ensure that I emerge a winner (heck, I didn’t even know I was going to be a Wrimo then)
  3. I had semester end exams
  4. I live in a hostel so while I’m tapping away a novel, I also have to see people pull all-nighters, muttering formulae to themselves, read PPT printouts at the dinner table and be at peace with myself.

So I started with zero expectations about meeting the purple finish line and only the love for the written word sustaining my fuel tank up to 1:30 a.m. Then I somehow mustered up the courage to tell people and THE RESPONSE.

Me: But I have exams, you’re supposed to discourage me.

Me: Why?
Friends: Because you’re going to be a famous writer and we need to produce proof to our children that their mamas were chuddi-buddies with the famous writer.

(At breakfast)
Them: How many?
Me: 12.5k
Them: *offer congratulations*
(At dinner)
Them: How many?
Me: 14k
Them: *offer congratulations*
(Next day, at breakfast)
Them: How many?
Me: 17k
Them: YAY *offer congratulations*

(On the eve of an exam)
Them: You can do this. YOU CAN DO THIS.

You know how when you read the acknowledgments page, you see writers say about how it takes a village to write a book?
I get it now.  If it were not for them – who always wanted the latest updates on the status of Siddharth and Aishwarya, brainstormed with me for ideas about how to make them fall for each other (because I’m highly experienced in that area and I didn’t need any of that) while sacrificing precious study-hours; and extracted promises from me to send them all PDFs of my novel once I’m done – this would have been another coffin in the dreaded graveyard of unfulfilled dreams.

I hereby share the joyous news that I reached my target on November 24th and by the end of the month I had 58.2k and MY BOOK STILL ISN’T DONE (because climaxes are slippery minxes and they are always ugly irrespective of the one you manage to get hold of).

Of Mothers, Matrimony and Other Maladies is a Malayalee retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, with an emphasis on the overall plot, not just the love story (that’s the basic idea, at least). It’s completely a character-driven novel with at least FIFTEEN characters that appear regularly throughout the book. It was hard enough for me to keep track of all of them.

  2. I felt god-like – being in control of the universe I created
  3. I put my words into that void in the status-quo
  4. And there’s the winner goodies, of course

  1. Excessive hairfall
  2. Acne outbursts (apparently so much tension isn’t good for your hair and skin)
  3. Had to do with five hours of sleep everyday (My body can’t run satisfyingly with only that much sleep, ok?)
  4. I realized that I hated the writer I actually was. This one was the severest blow. Like Veronica Roth said in her NaNo peptalk, I had to throw away all my preconceptions of the writer I thought I would be.
  5. I hate my book (but LOVE my characters, how weird is that)
  6. Made me reconsider my judgment criteria for books in general now that I know first-hand HOW DAMN DIFFICULT IT IS TO WRITE ONE
  7. I don’t have the courage to let people read it (I’d much rather walk naked out on streets, tbh)

Anyone would think December is just the perfect climax for this tired human who watches nights melting into days. Unfortunately, although it’s officially semester break, I have plenty of curricular undertakings to be fulfilled and so far it looks like I’m going to be suffocating up until the Christmas week.

I’m done. With my exams, NaNoWriMo 2014, and this ridiculously long post. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

REVIEW: Imitation - Heather Hildenbrand


This book is a well-written piece of literature. I can’t find it in me to fault the writing. The plot was paced out perfectly by giving extra attention to fleshing out every character. Titus Rogen came across the villain with the dark murky past. Marla, whose notes sent to Imitations in Twig City is the sort of character you can’t judge till after you have finished the series. Ida and Lonnie are the sort of people you want in your support group. Daniel is …
View the blurb on Goodreads

I'm not spoiling, you.
Imitation climbed the plot arc mountain with finesse. I stayed up till after midnight to climb down from the conflict plateau.
I liked Ven’s voice – brave with a side of scared. Although there is insta-attraction featured here, it’s justifiable – since it would have been the natural course for any girl in Ven’s shoes. Because, hey when you have a character like Linc Crawford who is a hybrid between Four in Divergent (both the Pre – and Post – Tris versions of him) and your average everyday awe-inspiring biker dude (see what I did there?), you really can’t help but forgive her, especially when we know that she hasn’t seen that many Y-chromosomes in Twig City.That being said, what sets this book apart from the other dystopian books?

The Imitation Club: “We have CLONES”

Uh. Orphan Black is way too amazing. I didn’t find Book One compulsive enough to induct me into the Imitation Club. I also don’t think I will pick up Book 2 unless I find it lying around within an arm’s reach. It was a good read (I didn’t feel like I was subjecting my eyes to torture or killing time pointlessly), but not great enough.

How helpful was that, eh? I can’t pinpoint out exactly what made it short of a Great Enough Read. Maybe I’m suffering from the Too Much Dystopian Syndrome and everything just feels the same.

VERDICT: 3 stars

… And An Announcement

Okay. There isn’t a better way of saying this. I am going to take the rest of the month off my blog. Reasons:

EXAMS. And this isn't even nearly whole pile.

Oh yes. Only an overly ambitious fool like me would decide to participate in NaNoWriMo when she has her semester-end exams as well. Just. Bear with me, alright?

What do you have to look forward to? In December, I am going to post some fabulous reviews of some fabulous ARCs I received (thanks Netgalley!) and some posts from when my mind was high on coffee and all things nice.

Friday, October 31, 2014

ARC REVIEW: The Melody of Light - M. L. Rice


You know what it was about this book that took my breath away? Had this plot arc originated in my head, I would have it written the exact same way. That doesn’t mean I loved this book to the ends of the earth and depths of hell, no. I just shared a fun fact with you.
Allow me to paraphrase: I don’t really like the way I write (with regards to a full-fledged novel) and I’m still trying to find my voice. But hey, tomorrow NaNoWriMo’s beginning, and I’m living in eternal hope.

Moving on.

Since I started with the writing style of this book, I might as well get over with it. I liked it (yay!) but didn’t love it – it felt like a really long short story. There was a prologue-ish sort of intro to the first chapter, and then the plot continues in a very thespian fashion – the whole novel is a flashback that brings the book to a full circle. The third person narrative brings in the drama-esque flair to the novel.  Only Aidan and Beth and to an extent Tori and Koji are actually fleshed out satisfyingly well; the others were merely acting their parts, and I couldn’t get a read on them. Maybe that’s the way it was intended to be, so no major judgement there. 

And The Melody of Light.You have no idea how much I’ve been berated, damned, harangued for my instinct to assume everything is crap and then search for proof that it’s good and find it and only then like it. So obviously, I mistrusted the title’s seemingly overly pandering title, until – wait for it – I found the reason to like it (and that reason made me go “Oh!”). I love the title now.

Riley and Beth make a very realistic couple (not that I have any idea about the mechanics of lesbian couples, but these two rock the mechanics of a general realistic couple – I suspect that’s the author’s experience working out the finer details there). There is no shortage of soppy dialogues and everyone knows it (at one point Riley appoints Beth as the “beacon of light” in her dark life and then says, “it’s cheeseball, but true.”) But, I didn’t cringe at them, since they made sense. (Although I do wish they could have been phrased in a way that wasn’t cheeseball-ish.)

And Aidan. AIDAN. I could write poems and epics glorifying his name. He is the combination of what all the Weasley boys are (yes, I use present tense, I refuse to accept Fred’s dead, okay?) to Ginny, he is the Atticus and Jem double combo to Scout, he is the Darry and Soda to a (okay, forgive me) girly- Ponyboy. He ticks every box of “Are you the Perfect Older Brother to Problematic Sister?” and I LOVE him. Don’t worry, my feelings are very chaste and sisterly.

And then the ending happened, which should not have made me leak two tears because:
a) Hello, I read Chapter One, so I should have predicted this.
b) It gave me a la “Roth Was Trying To Create A Sensation When She Killed Off Tris In Allegiant” deja-vu. 
You know, when we are speaking of unnecessary deaths in YA-famous literature and all.

On that note, Happy Halloween people. I am virtually celebrating a Hollywood-Glorified-Almost-International-Observance-Because-India-Doesn’t-Effing-Observe-One. 
Can you see my Hermione Granger costume through that screen of yours? I treated myself with a laddoo, so ha.

VERDICT: 3.5 stars

Monday, October 27, 2014

Sunday Swoons (or The One With All The Colourful Ships)

Yes, I am –
a) Alive
b) Aware that today isn’t a Sunday
c) Fully conscious of the fact that this post was supposed to have happened two weeks back

By Skylar Finn 

If you didn't know already, Sunday Swoons is the weekly feature where Skylar @ Life of a Random and Briana @ Reader, Writer, Critic talk about normal swoon-y stuff everyone can relate to.

But Briana and Skylar were very understanding (for which they have earned mountains of virtual chocolate) and extended the deadline for linking this sorry too-late post of mine. But surprisingly I had a lot to talk about this – Diversity in Literary Relationships.

While Skylar tackled diversity in races and Briana talked about diversity in religions – (which you should totally read) I am going to mix it up.

There aren’t that many books that I can claim to have read which feature diverse relationships. These are some books that feature ships in international waters but don’t have their love life as the plot –

1) The Legend series – Marie Lu

Marie Lu did an amazing thing with the ethnicity of The Republic. She says that since it is set in a post-apocalyptic world, people should have mixed ethnicity. While Day is dominantly Mongolian, June is a mix of Native and others.

2) Heroes of Olympus – Rick Riordan

LEO AND CALYPSO. JASON AND PIPER. (And if Miss J is to be believed – NICO AND WILL)

3) The Kane Chronicles – Rick Riordan

CARTER AND ZARA. SADIE AND ANUBIS (who happens to be the Egyptian god of death with kohl-rimmed eyes and if author is to be believed DROP DEAD GORGEOUS AND HKUSFSIGFAZADSEY)

4) The Mediator series – Meg Cabot


These ships do go into their diverse backgrounds, but it is not the case in point –

1) Prisoner of Night and Fog – Anne Blankman

Gretchen Muller is German and Daniel Cohen is Jewish. Throw them against the backdrop of the Third Reich and you get your plot.

2) The Secret Life of Bees – Sue Monk Kidd

Lily and Zachary Lincoln Taylor - they are so made for each other – with all the hurt and anger inside and out – and you’re like - 

And you sigh when they finally do.

3) Eleanor and Park – Rainbow Rowell

There’s your diversity – right there in the title.

4) Ghosting – Edith Pattou

Anil’s girlfriend is the Official Most Beautiful. And he is still surprised by that fact. But then he meets Max with her camera and shyness and he is unsure about how to proceed along those lines. He also talks about the kind of expectations he has to meet, courtesy of his family of doctors. Then tragedy (aka the plot point) strikes and … I’m not telling anymore.

Now I’m not going into explicit detail, but here’s the deal – short and sweet. Here, where I live, when you marry a person, you marry his/her entire family as well. You aren’t allowed to date, have any sort of romantic relationship, live under the same roof before marriage (society hyperventilates around that sort of talk), or divorce – marry – repeat. Your parents fix the deal for you – with which you can agree or disagree. Obviously, DIVERSITY IS A HUGE NO – NO. (There are a lot of pros and cons with this and I am NOT going to talk about it – I just set the scene here). I can predict winds of change brewing though. Slow but sure enough.

Now we all know what happened to Adam and Eve and the biblical forbidden apple.  This Forbidden Apple Syndrome has reflected a lot in Indian literature (but even more so in Indian cinema, especially for hormone-driven teens) so there’s no shortage of diverse couples (or as diverse it’s practically possible). Here are some examples (that I have read) with links to their Goodreads blurbs -

(Crap, I can’t think of anything else. Since my knowledge in general chick-lit and Indian –English lit is limited, I have failed in compiling a trustworthy list. )

This post has gotten absurdly long. I’m stopping.

What do you think? All those in favour of more colourful ships? 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Another Blogging Miracle: Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

If I could make a list of things I want to painfully kill, #1 would go to COLLEGE. I have exams next week and I started getting buried under workload three weeks earlier. Which is how I am not getting any reviewing done and doing this acceptance post more than a week later. Morrighan @ Elysian Fields nominated me and I feel HONOURED, Morrighan, THANK YOU.
 I am also enclosing a virtual pizza with SORRY M&Ms and a hug. :)

  1. Thank the blogger that nominated you, and link back to their blog in your post.
  2. Post the award's logo on your blog.
  3. Answer the ten question asked by the nominator.
  4. Nominate ten bloggers for the award.
  5. Ask your nominees ten questions.

Morrighan asked me:

What is your favorite book ever? I know, this is a tough one!

This cat understands my angst

This is not called “tough”. PE is tough. Calculus is tough. Doing laundry is tough. Trying to decide whether you want that appetising chef’s choice or whether you want to play safe with your regular is tough. Coming up with the right name for your kid is tough. Thinking of a possible plot arc for a book idea you have is tough. Naming my favourite book isn’t tough, it’s against my principle of being. :P
So I am going to both answer and not answer your question, taking a leaf out of Schrodinger’s book. Books I keep recommending to people right and left are:
To Kill the Mockingbird
Harry Potter (Books 1 through 7)
The Book Thief
The Help
 Jellicoe Road
The Mediator series
The Hunger Games series
Most books by Jodi Picoult
….. are some off the top of my head

What book are you most anticipating reading?
The Young Elites by Marie Lu. After Hunger Games there was a parade of dystopian fiction,, out of which I liked Legend best (even though Champion wasn’t my favourite way to end the series.) I also read a sneak preview of TYE and had blue balls at the end of Chapter1.
I was also psyched to read The Blood of Olympus but my book buddy advised me against reading it lest I become suicidal and leave a note saying it’s because Rick Riordan messed up the series.

What is your favorite genre? Least favorite? Why?
Currently, my favourite is realistic YA and social drama. And anything with a lyrical prose.
Least favourite – anything that features instalove/ less plot – more kissing-more sexual tension-more 18+ scenes/ average chick-lit/bad narration/depthless characters/regular dystopian

What female character do you most relate with?
Uh. Um. Wait. It’s going to come to me any minute. Wait, I think… Nope, nothing.
I know. I just had an epiphany myself. I am now going to proceed with the blame game. It’s not my fault. Not actively. Books that I like to read are generally depressing (as verified by my book buddy) which feature heroines that have low self-esteem/suicidal/had a best friend who committed suicide/rape victims/apartheid victims … you get the idea. Or they are they are the smart, sword/gun – wielding, mouthy, snarky, beautiful, AMAZING girls that I insanely wish I could be. There is also this unfortunate issue of lack of diversity in books to boot.
But in class when my mind stopped understanding Power Electronics, I suddenly thought of Cath in Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. After all, we practise the same profession, don’t we?

So maybe I blog instead of writing famous fanfiction. Same diff. We are both introverts, shy around strangers, and swoon over anything bookish.

What male character would you most like to spend the day with?
This is almost as hard as Question #1. Aside from book boyfriends (with who I wouldn’t mind spending the rest of my sorry life), I guess it would be Magnus Bane (although he is a book boyfriend – the gay one so even fictionally out of bounds). He would show me the right way to use body glitter, take me shopping, introduce me to other Downworlders, Chairman Meow, make my sides hurt from laughing too much, make me eat stuff I wouldn’t otherwise eat, … I could go on.
A day with Magnus Bane is a day well spent.

What is your least favorite book you've ever had to review?
Whisper – Stacey R. Campbell It wasn’t my type.

One of your favorite books that you feel deserves more attention and praise?
Tell the Wolves I’m Home. The words breathe life into the characters and you just ….
And the title is Just. So. Inspiring. I started off by hating it, and at the end, I was a different person. I keep shoving this book in people’s faces and they’re like (I’ve never heard of it.)

The most over hyped book you have read this year is..?
(Sorry everyone.) Throne of Glass. Hands down.

If you could live in one mythical world from a book, which would it be and why?
The JKR version of the wizarding world. Why?

How many books do you physically own, either ebook or physical?
I just have two paperbacks with me at the moment. Before you collapse with disgust, it’s because my actual shelf is at home (in another country) and here pages curl with humidity so I keep transporting them home. So, I don’t know the exact number of physical books I have.
My virtual shelf contains over 300 (of which I’ve read only about 200 BUT I HAVE NO SHAME I STILL KEEP ADDING TO IT). That ok, good, bad, or ugly?

And I ask my nominees:
  1. Which author is guaranteed to not let you down with his/her latest release?
  2. Who is your favourite badass heroine?
  3. Name a book or poem you had to read for school that you actively hated?
  4. What is the naughtiest thing you’ve ever done?
  5. Which poem reaches down inside you and leaves you breathless every single time you read it? (You can skip this question if it’s too personal.)
  6. What subject do you think hasn’t been explored much in YA literature?
  7. What is your favourite bookish game to play when fans of the same book get together?
  8. Have you written to (or tweeted) any writer asking what happens with the characters in a book? (Especially those books that are left free to reader’s interpretation) Did you get an answer?
  9. What is the weirdest food combination you like that the general public think is disgusting?
  10. If you could RJ for an FM for 30 minutes, what would be your playlist?
Like I mentioned before, I am drowning in assignments and unopened textbooks so I really don't have the time (or energy) to comment on blogs (there are people I want to pass this on to). SO NOMINATE YOURSELF. You are brilliant and awesome and inspiring and the bloggerverse welcomes you. Just comment below and we'll fight over fandoms and keep tagging each other.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

ARC REVIEW: Puppet - Pauline C. Harris


(Blurb from Goodreads) Penelope lives in a world of advanced technology but many claim society has yet to catch up. Marionettes have advanced in the form of robots; lifelike creations remote controlled to perform super human tasks.

When Penelope makes a deal with Jed, a marionette-obsessed scientist, she doesn’t fully realize what she’s getting herself into. In order for Jed to take her away from the orphanage she lives in, she must first agree to undergo his experiments and tests, ultimately creating something no one ever dreamed possible; the first living marionette.

As Jed shows off his scientific creation to the world, concerns arise surrounding Penelope’s abilities and what she’s capable of doing. Ordered to somehow lessen her abilities, Jed makes a desperate attempt to change Penelope to make her more human, more vulnerable. After Penelope lies to the officials about her past, Jed makes sure it’s the last one she’ll ever utter. The truth is now the only thing she is capable of telling.

As Penelope struggles with her past, her disturbingly new present, and her uncertain future, she is thrust into a magically twisted world of mayhem in search of the one thing she wants, but knows she can never have. The chance to be just a girl again. To be normal. To be real.

Retellings are literary remixes. I have limited experience in them because my basic instinct is to distrust them. Music remixes rarely top the original for me. Film remakes are bigger disasters. As far as literary retellings go, they can be MINDBLOWING (Across a Star-Swept sea – The Scarlet Pimpernel remix), or “hmm, that was nice” (Towering – Rapunzel remix) or FAIL (Puppet – Pinocchio remix apparently)

If this wasn’t being advertised as a Pinocchio retelling, I could like it more. Because this book deserves it, trust me. I even liked the cover (SURPRISE! the book cover nazi approves). I loved Pen’s voice – she sounds like a closet philosopher, wondering about the secrets of marionettes and trying to figure out humans. The book wasn’t crowded with characters, and within very few pages, Harris manages to fledge out the main characters satisfyingly – not just the Boy and the Girl. The pacing, although it started out slow, quickened up and before you know it, you’ve reached The End. However, that might also be due to the plot lacking masala.

Let’s still pretend this book’s got nothing to do with Pinocchio. Thankfully, there isn’t much infodumping happening, but I also couldn’t get how dystopian the Portum is – I couldn’t see much advancement technology-wise other than the marionettes and a government with the Head Devere and administrators. And I kept getting confused with Pen’s brief instances of sheer stupidity.  

That’s where the tagline “Pinocchio retelling” comes in. When Pen lied about her background to the freaking government which is famous for its meddling in everyone’s affairs, I couldn’t believe Pen – my cousin swears she saw me making a face at the book. Then I remembered A Pinocchio Retelling and his lying problem. When he did it, it wasn’t unnecessary or unbelievable; the context here made it a total fail.

Where else did Pinocchio come in picture? Whenever the word “marionette” was mentioned. And Jed is the Portum version of Gepetto.  That’s the end of Pinocchio references.

When I reached The End, I felt conned.  There was no NOSE ENLARGEMENT. There was no Fox or Cat or Fairy or any talk of money, unless they have been disguised under heavy metaphors (in which case I apologize for my under-sight). If you’ve read the original tale of Pinocchio, you have no reason to read this book.

Wow, that sounds cold. But if you ignore the “Pinocchio retelling” tagline, there’s a chance you will like this book.

VERDICT: (It actually pains me to say this) 2 stars

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Not A Review: Anna and the French Kiss - Stephanie Perkins

(Blurb from Goodreads) Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris--until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming,beautiful, Étienne has it all...including a serious girlfriend. 

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?


This book (or the entire series tbh) features the exact sort of cover and the exact sort of title that I wouldn’t even dare disturb from its spot on the shelf in a bookstore. But then #IslaWasComing and the bloggerverse erupted and I’m like what the hell I’ll read it.

Oh boy. My head is in shreds.


(Lame Joke: “Hey what’s the title of Book 2?”
                     “Oh, I don’t know, Anna and the Second Base, probably. Lol”
No, you are not obligated to laugh.)

But that’s not even the crucial point. The reasons for me to hate this book were numerous. But I still finished it within a day (I read it in class, tucked between the pages of Microprocessors and Interfacing – I can’t believe I did all that). I kept giggling and people kept  getting pissed off.

My hormones LOVED it. My brain HATES myself for liking this book.
Hang on, Sheldon, I'm explaining.
For starters, I HATED EVERYBODY.

I HATE ANNA because she’s an ignorant “wannabe film critic” who didn’t know France loves the cinema (I mean, hasn’t she heard of the Cannes Film Festival?).  She also keeps obsessing about this PURRFECT guy who already has a girlfriend. HIS HAIR. HIS LIPS. HIS GODDAMN WHOLE ANATOMY.  She also doesn’t realize that she’s so pretty enough to give a boner to any guy who walks into the room. And there are other “flaws” that are designed to make her character realistic except that it kept irritating the shit out of me (whenever I wasn’t giggling at her idiocites, that is – YES I HAPPEN TO BE A HYPOCRITE TA DA).

“I cheated on her every day. In my mind, I thought of you in ways I shouldn’t have, again and again.”
If Ellie (the cheatee) were to make a book of her own, Anna would be the villain.
He also lacks a backbone. Ellie was his “just in case”. Or was it the other way round?
Oh, and by the way his “flaw” is that he is short.  Other than that, he’s PURRFECT.


But I have thought about this long and hard. So long, so hard. I have finally reached the conclusion that the reason why I read this book so enthusiastically despite my head screaming at me to not do it, is because Stephanie Perkins has some illusionistic capability to hoodwink people like me with her writing. 

Brain: 1 star.
Hormones: 5 stars!
Me: God help me – 3 Stars 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Book Gif Tag

Andie at Metaphorical Musings tagged the not-so-giftastic me, and I took it up because I'm running low on dares this week.
And plus, it was fun updating my gif-cabulary. :)

The Great Gatsby
Yeah, alright. That ending need not have happened though.

The Color Purple 
The gifs say it all. What a book.

The 5th Wave 
My very dependable source tells me I will not like it because - 

Too much of futuristic novels, and they all start sounding similar.

The Time Traveler's Wife
I didn't like it. Yes the time traveling is unrealistic, but this book made it sound like an impossible genetic illness that breaks all physics laws. The nerd in me finds it unforgivable, sorry.

The Assassin's Curse
I haven't read this, so I looked up the blurb, and here's my verdict:

The Knife of Never Letting Go 
Stayed way past my bedtime to finish this one.

There was a lot of this - 

Patrick Ness happens to be a MAGICIAN with words.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Another not-yet-read-it, so I checked it out on GR and - 
Need to get my hands on this one.

A Game of Thrones 
I would have really really enjoyed it if - 

There wasn't so much beheading

 And how many DETAILED GRAPHIC sex scenes am I supposed to tolerate?

The Maze Runner 
Haven't read it, but watched the movie trailer and now I'm vaguely interested.

If I Stay

It was alright, up until the last scene when I leaked one tiny tear.
But I love Chloe Moretz, so I'm definitely watching the movie.

I know, I know, fans - please don't kill me.
I tag - 
Tansie at Totally Tansie
Crazy Caro at Crazy Utopia
and anyone else with time on their hands.

The ten books are:
Peter Pan
The Help
Throne of Glass
The Mortal Instruments - City Of Bones
The Mediator
13 reasons why
Pride and Prejudice

If you would like a different list of books, feel free.

Add your graffiti here before you leave; this wall needs all the colour it can get. And check back, I always reply as promptly as the wifi allows me to. ;)