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
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. ;)