Monday, June 23, 2014

"Not A Review" Review: The Unbecoming Of Mara Dyer - Michelle Hodkin

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer, #1)Thank you Skylar @ Life Of A Random for motivating me to read this book despite a certain degree of prejudice I may or may not have harboured against this book. (Why, you ask? Well, the cover for one. I do not like decapitated females in pretty dressed with male arms around them.)

This is a book which becomes less in terms of read-ability once I write a review (hence the title). Because it will sound horribly like a cliché once the review is done. What with a heroine who has a messed up history that even she’s not clear on, the “typical bad-boy-falling-for-her” phase (complete with the cigarettes, the jacket, the messed up hair, the scruffy chin, the untouchable attitude, the sighs of women scorned ensemble - wait did I mention the “Attraction At First Sight” that happened?), the typical “she-falls-hard-despite-his-reputation” phase, the “I’m-dangerous-for-you-please-leave-me” phase …

Need I continue?

I do not have the patience to be as experienced in the field of clichéd ships as Miss J, but from my few experiences, I put together a post on how corny ships have got to stop sailing across YA pages. And although Mara and Noah technically qualify as a cliché (boy, I’ve got to stop using that word) –

I ship them. (dramatically gasps)

What do you know? Turns out the disillusioned spinster can be a hopeless romantic.

In my defence, it’s because there is a plot OUTSIDE their love story (yes, well the love story takes up a chunk of the plot too - HELL I CAN'T MAKE UP MY MIND) which features a lot of PTSD (ooh, yes I’m a heartless bitch I love PTSD stories) and sibling love and witty dialogues and how Mara desperately tries to rationalize whatever the hell is going on with Noah (buts fails miserably) and the overall plot. Yes, the bitch who won’t give decent enough stars to books likes the plot. And even though technically (lately this word is my excuse for everything happening) the writing was just average I suspect it was a prime contender for Reasons Why I Liked This Book.

So, putting things in perspective –

VERDICT: 3.5 stars
(God you guys have no idea how much the literary and the romantic idealist sides of my brain enjoyed a tug-of-war over the rating - how much I edited this un-review-y review. Eventually the former won.)
(Can you comprehend what I feel about this book?)
(I am a bad reviewer.)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Mini Review: The Murder Complex - Lindsay Cummings and City of Heavenly Fire - Cassandra Clare

Alright, this Mini Review thing happened because I'm lazy to expand both into proper reviews but hey cut me a break alright? Life is so much more interesting when I don't have to go to college for another two weeks and I can giggle scoff at Korean series in peace.

Now why did I say that?

The Murder Complex (The Murder Complex, #1)The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

See, now this is a good concept. It really is, even though the whole book features some ideas which I have seen before in other books. Besides I think there is an avalanche of dystopian books happening so it’s sort of a challenge to come up with an entirely new concept. And this is only the first book so maybe I can’t judge this world yet. In other words, I am reserving my opinion with regards to the plot - there is a strong sense of deja-vu.

I do not know how many times I have complained that the pace of a book is so slow, so slow. This one took me entirely by surprise. For the first time I am complaining that the pace of this book is fast. I just finished a book yesterday and I was just going to ruffle the pages of this one and pretty soon I was reading this and soon I was done with it. It’s not a compliment when I say this book was fast because it means I do not feel anything for the characters. Meadow and Zephyr are (unofficially/officially/one-sidedly?) are an item and that happened like this *snaps fingers* (yes, they have a connection that is yet to be explained but it's still weird). I don’t know what to feel about her father. There is “sibling protective tendency” (wow, I just made that as a thing) in this book as well, but yes, Peri is adorable. Zephyr and Meadow - I don’t know if I would root for either of them yet. Their character development needs work. In fact every character needs to be fledged out. Hopefully in the next book that's going to happen.

And the cussing. Skitz, there wasn’t any fluxing need for it. The Initiative took over just some years ago (not even an entire generation back) and somehow that doesn't warrant language evolution.

I will read the next book though. That one is going to decide whether I will continue the series in secret or THROUGH A MEGAPHONE or discontinue it.

City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments, #6)City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What a journey this has been. From "HAVE YOU HEARD OF THIS BOOK?" to "It's really good so far" to "Why wasn't this truncated as a trilogy?" to "Jace makes me want to gouge out my eyes with his gold anatomy" to "I am reading this book for the sole sake of Magnus Bane" to "Wow, that WAS a finale".


Unfortunately, this book took forever to come out since the last one and ,um, thankfully Clare had the foresight to brush up some episodes I might have forgotten, and it was done strategically. I knew there was a war coming, I mean hello, every finale features one. So this wasn't a surprise but uh, it still took me by surprise. I was expecting more Jace/Clary angst and while that did happen (and still was overused and overboard and over-featured that I skipped some pages) it wasn't just that. The plot actually moved (yes, it implies there wasn't any need for that many pages).

Now it was towards the last 200 pages that the momentum increased and I sat up way past my bedtime. The ending gave me a sense of deja-vu and I realized it was because of Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian (my lips are sealed) and it wasn't bad - I liked it. And whatever happened with Simon was UNNECESSARY OKAY? MY POOR BABY. It felt like that whole thing was written because we desperately needed to be reminded that writers have little sense of character preservation but maybe Clare didn't have the heart to see through with it and made things a bit too convenient.

Now why bother in the first place?

And, boy aren't I glad that I read the Infernal Devices. While I physically hoped that Jem/Tessa could have had more page-space, they were there at least. And Tessa called Jem "Zachariah"? I wanted to cry. WHY COULDN'T THE WORD JEM BE MENTIONED IN THE BOOK

Alright that was me venting out.

And the Blackthorns and Emma. Their bio-history was totally not needed. But I have a feeling it's because they are going to feature in Clare's next series so this was the intro.

This book could have been a lot worse. Books #4,5 dropped my expectations. But this one sort of redeems the entire series. If you have the patience to hang around till #6

View all my reviews

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Dada Baby Loves You

Remember that time when we used to mosey around in diapers, always verify the utility of an article by putting it in our mouth, drive our parents crazy by stuffing everything that’s babe-ly possible in our tiny nostrils, pee at the most inappropriate time and place, make our moms do the chicken dance so that we’d eat, give our parents (well, at least mine) cause for celebration when we finally crap after constipating for so long, and refer to ourselves in the third person? We reminisce all of the above on a day when our talk turns to our moms (which initially starts with the sentence, “Oh my god, you will NOT believe what my mom did the other day, I was SO embarrassed…”), we cover all the stupid bitchy things (“My mom is technologically handicapped”), and move onto the complimentary stuff (“My mom’s culinary genes skipped a generation I think”), and move back in time to swap notes on how moms transformed us from stupid toddlers covered in drool and pee to who we are today.

Today is not that day.

Our family has the messed up sex ratio of 3:1 in favour of females. My dad is a survivor in a home (un)run by three girls (two of which contribute to the un-run part – why thank you I do include myself). Survivor and a HERO. Him deigning to share a bathroom with us itself makes him eligible for the “Hero” title. I have lost count of the number of times he’s screamed from the bathroom, “WHY IS THERE SO MUCH HAIR” (“come on it’s not like we asked our hair to abandon our scalp” – is the usual repartee) and HE CLEANS IT UP HIMSELF. Oh yeah. But do we learn? Oh no. We let our hair fall and clog up the sink, and the floor, and leave it clinging on the tap and walls (I don’t know how alright?) and we will not clean it up. The bathroom’s de-hairingceremony has to wait till my dad gets in.

Oh and the laundry. Yes, we dump it in the washer … and leave it there. Till our dad wants to use it because then it’s HIM who takes out all our delicate feminine things … and um, dumps it on our bed so that it’ll get damp and we’ll HAVE to hang it outside (sometimes he does it himself because he can’t stand it – I know, aren’t I ashamed of myself?). It’s him who helps our mom in the kitchen by doing the manly task of doing the dishes while we girls would do the even manlier task of watching TV with our feet propped up on the coffee table. I mean, a shouting battle would have preceded it but he does it all the same. 

I imagine it would have been very difficult for my dad (aside from what’s mentioned above, there are others that I’m wisely choosing not to divulge so as to preserve a part of my residual pride). Whenever he wanted to talk about that “…new mobile phone can take pictures – it’s a bloody camera!” he did it with me because my mom can’t exactly understand the “bloody”- ness of it. I grew up to be The Guy for my dad quickly – watching football, getting excited about electricity conventions, talking about the newest innovation in technology and for ganging up on my mom (tee-hee). My dad taught me the transformer when I asked how a doorbell worked in eighth grade, explained the transformer (and the power distribution system) when I asked about electrical generators in ninth, and said, “Oh, I don’t know too much about it, I learnt it a long time back, didn’t I?”, when I finally asked him about the freaking transformer equation in tenth. 

My dad takes us shopping and he politely finds a place to sit while we zoom around with hangars draped on our arms. We try them on, ask each other’s’ opinion and consult our dad and even when he vetoes it (he doesn’t get fashion, nuh-uh – he thinks the waist is somewhere around the stomach as far as pants are concerned) we dump it in the basket. Sometimes he browses and holds up fashion disasters and says, “Won’t this look lovely on you?” and I smile exasperatedly and shake my head. He gives a goofy smile and shrugs his shoulders implying that it’s my loss anyhow. 

There is a lot more I could talk about, my dad’s lame attempts at humour at family get-togethers (he does get laughs because he looks all confused when people don’t laugh initially), his outstanding cooking (according to him), him shipping us back and forth from tuitions and music classes, when he stands sideways in front of the mirror and says, “Don’t I look like Mammootty?” (a much worshipped Indian actor), when he entertained my sister when she got bored of dressing up Barbie dolls and stuck hair pins in his hair and a bindi on his forehead, when he bought a dress that could only fit a three year old on my first birthday, and so much more. But my writing abilities won’t do him justice so I’m stopping here.

I have wished him, “Happy Father’s Day, Papa” today and left it at that. He won’t ever read this post to find out how much he means to me (“because frankly I can’t understand your writing, it’s much too English-y”) so this post is essentially pointless. Yeah, I can hear you guys saying, “Well, you could tell him, you know”. But, I won’t. My dad will just be embarrassed and give Mamma a sideways look that says, “Pfft, what is she saying?”

Papa, you rock. Happy Father’s Day.        

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Define the letter 'A' (3 marks)

I’m setting a scene – please, humour me. You have an English exam on, let’s say Macbeth – you’re expecting essay questions like “Explain the phrase: ‘Out, brief candle”, and “Write a character sketch on Macduff”, and with your heart hammering you flip your question paper, your pen poised to fly and you see the question:

Q1 – Define the letter ‘A’ (3 marks)

 We had a nasty shock some weeks back when we referred to problems from too many books, cracked our heads over “Why does this sine wave look like it’s been murdered” or “Maybe the author got it wrong, we all got the same wrong answer” and other mind-numbing questions involving a lot of Fourier analysis and integration and bazillion trigonometric formulae and we saw questions like “What do you mean by Discrete Time Fourier Analysis” and “Define Energy and Power”. (These two were the worst – I guess I have suppressed bad memories I can’t recollect others)

Here we were fully expecting to ace the paper inwardly but telling people, “Shit I am so screwed” (because honestly, who shows off that you’ve studied well?) and we see the paper and we tell ourselves, “Shit I am so freaking screwed”.

We DTFT’d questions – we knew how to DTFT, we knew how to find the energy and power of a function, but what is it? I banged my head on the table. I swore at all the old people with hair growing out of their ears sitting in the university with the responsibility of setting a paper, their fathers and their grandfathers. We have since then reached the conclusion that not one of those #%$^@&%$ ever taught Signals and Systems or if they did, they did it eons back.

So what did we do? We knew (it’s a public secret) that a ‘3 marks’ question demands one page answer, ‘5 marks’ needs atleast two, and ’12 marks’ needs “howmuchever you can write without dislocating your shoulder”. Then we remembered who we were.

Pure geniuses.

What we felt like doing was scrunching up the damn paper and stuffing it in our mouth. But what we actually did was:

Q1) Define the letter ‘A’ (3 marks)

Ans: The letter ‘A’ is the first letter of the English alphabet. It is analogous to the “Alpha” in the Greek alphabet and the “Alif” in the Arabic alphabet. The letter is pronounced “eh” when it is read as a letter, and “uh” when it is used as an article. “A” makes different sounds in different words. “Cat” and “Bat” differ in only one word but the “A” is pronounced differently in both. “A” is pronounced differently even in the same word in different places e.g. “Afghanistan” and “amazing” and “Balaclava”.  When written in smaller case it looks like this – a.

“A” fulfils a lot of roles. It can function as an indeterminate article, it can symbolize the top grade (e.g. “She got an A on her essay”), we have AAA and AA batteries, papers come in A5, A4, A3, A2, A1, and even A0 sizes, British students have to clear their A – level exams, there is even a character known as only “A” in the show Pretty Little Liars. After the letter “E” (which is the fifth letter in the alphabet), it is the second most used letter in English. It is the first vowel (others include “e”, “i”, “o”, “u”). Coincidentally, even though the same letter is used in the French alphabet, it makes a different sound….

Alright, I’ll stop now. But do you get the point? The answer to the question stops after the first line in my answer. But to exceed one page I have to resort to absolutely pointless infodumping and HUGE handwriting (mine actually becomes tinier as I speed up so have to cram more non-information).

You understand the label PURE GENIUSES now, right? Those @#$*^%@& better give us full marks for our paper, or else they will know the power of a chainsaw.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

ARC REVIEW: Deep Blue - Jennifer Donnelly


Mermaids. What sort of picture does that word draw in your head?
The seashell bra clad mermaid, courtesy of Disney?

Or the one baring sharp incisors and pointing spears at you, courtesy of J. K. Rowling?

I will not quote the Goodreads synopsis or write one of my own, because I tried and it sounded like the one on Goodreads anyway – which I hated because it made me not want to read the book. It sounded all girly (excuse the reference to the stereotype) and romance-y with some conflict thrown in for the sake of. So why did I read the book?

Because I trusted Jennifer Donnelly after reading Revolution (three cheers for historical fiction). If you haven’t read it, fix that blunder pronto.

Serafina does not wear a bra of seashells (or if she does, it's not mentioned).The lifestyle of the merpeople in Miromara closely resembles the Disney version, albeit a better one.  She’s the principessa of Miromara, and a descendant of Merrow, the much revered first ruler of the mermish kingdom. We meet her on the day of the Dokimi, when she’s declared of the blood of Merrow. If she isn’t she becomes dinner of a certain sea – spider. And if she miraculously somehow manages to survive that, she should be able to impress the merpeople with her excellent songspell abilities. And then she should take her betrothal vows. Did I mention she is sixteen?
But why all this? Qui Merrow decrivit.

That isn’t the story, by the way. AT ALL. Nuh-uh.  But if I divulge that information, you won’t get surprised by the twist in the storyline like I was. Withholding privileged information, bloggerverse.

It’s been so long, like since Harry Potter and Eragon and the Hunger Games, that I’ve come across a book with such awe-inspiring world building and conceptualizing. Merpeople have currensea, and conches to study; phrases like “put a fin wrong” and “family coral”, make pets of octopuses (ok maybe thank you, Disney), go “shoaling”, and have amazing friends like Neela (who is as important as Serafina by the way – GOODBYE SIDEKICKS) who keep bingeing on zeezees.

This book also flaunted POC characters that didn’t seem out of place or feel like unnecessary additions to make people happy.  The prologue was unexpected (in a very good way). The writing was the only thing that didn’t make me happy enough. I don’t know if I really liked the third person narration, I guess it was necessary for briefing the reader – but I wanted it to be more subtle, and not informational. And sometimes the narrator’s point of view switched between characters abruptly. Sometimes the language turned a tad too dramatic. 

WARNING: Do not read the Goodreads reviews criticizing the puns. *flips a fin*
I’m saying hell, yes to the Waterfire Saga anyway.

VERDICT: 3.5 stars
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