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Salt for Air – M.C. Frank : Book Review

40119041Salt for Air by M.C. Frank

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Genre: YA romance, urban fantasy)

I started this book yesterday, then woke up at 4 a.m. today to finish it.

I don’t know why, but I was a little scared to pick this book up. I had already delayed reading it because of several other preoccupations in the last few months, and I planned to read it this winter for sure. But when I finally opened the book, I felt like I might not like it. I have LOVED all of M.C. Frank’s books, and it was possibly the high expectations that felt intimidating to me as a reader. I am also not much of a fan of YA novels, but made an exception for M.C. Frank’s lovely writing. Salt for Air did not disappoint.

What I liked about this book:

– The plot and the world-building was great. I am obsessed with fairy-tale retellings of all sorts, and this one was perfect.

– One thing I love about M.C. Frank’s books is how intense the stories are. The characters are brimming with all sorts of emotions and I love reading about them trying to figure it all out. I like my romance novels a bit angsty, and Frank’s books have all the angst I need.

– I adore the setting of this book and how the author deals with it. Ellie keeps comparing American contemporary YA fiction to her own life, and her tone is very similar to what I, as an Indian, think every time I read one of those books. Although Greece and India are very different countries, they both carry a rich cultural heritage and an ancient history. It was very easy for me to relate to Ellie in that sense. If you like your YA books to be set in places other than a small town in North America, Salt for Air is a great choice.

– The characters and the settings are really vibrant and real. Although half of them were mythological creatures come to life, they were still very humane, despite their attempts to act like they weren’t.

What I didn’t like:

– I think the narrative focused on Ellie a lot, and sometimes too much. I would have liked to know more about Ky especially – his feelings, his motivations – not to mention about the realm that he is supposed to be king of. I am keeping my fingers crossed for a sequel, because I really think this book has potential for a continuation.

Overall:

I am so, so happy with this book and its characters. Whatever flaws I thought it had also has the potential of being erased with a sequel. If you are a fan of Cassandra Clare’s world-building or Roshani Chokshi’s mythology-based fantasies, this is a great YA read for you.

Grab your copy here: https://www.amazon.com/Salt-Air-M-C-Frank/dp/1722339969/

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Happy reading!

– Sreepurna. ❤

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Girl, Wash Your Face – Rachel Hollis : Book Review

35542451Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies about Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be by Rachel Hollis

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was the first self-help book I have read, and while I did enjoy reading it to a point, it was not applicable to me and I did find some things I would consider as flaws. I had no idea who Rachel Hollis was when I went into the book, so my views are, in that respect, unbiased.

Things I didn’t like:

– The book seemed to be aimed at a very white, affluent, Christian audience. I am in no way suggesting that Hollis’ tragedies were any less real than anyone else’s, but there are several incidents she mentions that, for the lack of a better term, I must categorize as “first-world problems”. For instance, she talks about seeking professional advice regarding mental health, but that is an essentially unhelpful advice for most of the world, which does not access to such benefits.

– The language. She keeps using terms like “girl” and adopted a conversational style, which felt a little forced to me. It would work for a blog post, but in the 200+ pages of that book, those terms were too repetitive and the style too cringey.

– I am not sure if this is a flaw per se, but the book just was not exceptionally impactful for me. Perhaps I expected too much, but I felt disappointed. Or perhaps self-help books are not for me, as I have always guessed.

Things I did like:

– Rachel Hollis has courage. You might call it an attention-seeking move, a publicity stunt, or whatever you wish, but the level of intimacy she shares with her readers is praise-worthy. No matter how famous and successful you are, no matter how much your life is subject to societal scrutiny, it takes a lot of bravery to reveal the amount of things Hollis has in her book. It wasn’t necessary for her to be this personal in a self-help book, but the fact that she was, enriches this book a lot.

– The structure of this book is really nice. It is divided into short sections with appropriate chapter headers which helps you choose any chapter randomly and start reading. I personally did not feel the need to read serially, and even skipped one or two chapters that I was sure were not applicable to me at this point of my life.

– This book is Rachel Hollis’ personal mantra of success. She structures her advice as “things that helped me”, suggesting that these were the things that helped HER, and she is sharing it to readers in hope that they might find them useful too. It instantly makes her sound less preach-y, and helps you understand where she is coming from.

Overall:
Personally this book did not strike a chord with me. However, I do think it is an interesting read for fans of Hollis and anybody who is curious enough to know what worked for one particular successful woman. It is honest, if not anything else, and I would say that alone makes it worth a read for those who are interested in the genre.

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– Sreepurna ❤

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Girls Behind the Camera – Adèle Geras: Book Review

6 Chelsea Walk: Girls Behind The Camera by Adèle Geras

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A great read for children – sweet, quick and enjoyable. I loved the characters and I loved the overall feminist vibe. Set in Victorian England, the story appears to be quite true to its background. As an older reader, I did find it it a little lacking in character building. However, I would definitely recommend this to younger readers (around the age of 9-10 years according to me); it is one of those books that you can recommend with your eyes closed. This particular edition from Usborne is a reprint, and I like how colourful and attractive the new cover looks.

Thank you UsborneYA for the review copy.

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Happy Reading! ❤

– Sreepurna.

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The Mystery of Three Quarters (New Hercule Poirot Mysteries #3) – Sophie Hannah: Book Review

The world’s most beloved detective, Hercule Poirot–the legendary star of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express and most recently The Monogram Murders and Closed Casket–returns in a stylish, diabolically clever mystery set in the London of 1930…

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Rating: 3.5 stars

Review:

Clearly, the idea of a Hercule Poirot novel written by someone other than Agatha Christie is a controversial topic. Sophie Hannah has been writing the New Hercule Poirot Mysteries for a while now, but this was my first book by her, and I was reasonably apprehensive and excited. Excited, because Poirot is my favourite. Apprehensive, because I wasn’t sure if I’d like Sophie Hannah’s take on him. I must say I was quite happy with how it turned out to be.

Although it is unfair to compare these books with Christie’s originals, such a comparison is inevitable. I thought the mystery aspect was quite Christie-like. The plot is gripping and also quite entertaining. Like many of the original Poirot novels, this book describes a plethora of interesting characters. The setting is still the 1920/30s; I think Sophie Hannah managed to make it all sound genuinely 20th century while also retaining her 21st century sensibilities, if that makes any sense. Hannah also retains Christie’s free-flowing easy language, which I absolutely love. However, I do think it’s best to go into the book considering it a separate work, to avoid the pointless disappointment of it not being exactly like Christie’s books.

I was a little disappointed with the ending. It was not bad, but I expected something more unexpected, I guess? One other major problem I had was the shifting POV style, which was somewhat hazy to me. The story begins with Poirot’s POV, which I did not like, because Poirot has always been sort of removed and enigmatic and I preferred it that way. After 4-5 chapters, the POV shifted to Inspector Edward Catchpool, whom I really liked. He wasn’t absolutely stupid (unlike most cops in detective novels) and his voice was funny and engaging. For the rest of the story, the POV kept switching between the two, because Poirot  and Catchpool seemed to be working on different parts of the case at the same time. I personally prefer to read from the eyes of a trusted companion like Watson or Hastings who will follow the case entirely on Poirot’s side and will faithfully report it all.

Overall, I would recommend this to any fan of Christie who is ready to read Sophie Hannah’s version of Poirot with an open mind. Poirot is just as eccentric as ever, and the mystery is mostly dependent on Poirot’s “little grey cells”, so I was happy. As a person who isn’t into fan fiction, I was pleased with Sophie Hannah’s reasonably original take on my favourite character and do plan to try out upcoming installments in this series.

Click here to buy this book: https://www.amazon.com/Mystery-Three-Quarters-Hercule-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B0756DWP21

~ Sreepurna.

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Inkredia (Luwan of Brida) – Sarang Mahajan // Book Review

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(Goodreads summary after the review)

Genre: Fantasy, Adventure

Rating: 3 stars / 5

Review:

What I didn’t like:

  • The portrayal of women (or in this case, woman?): There was only one female character in the entire story and I did not like how she was portrayed. She was scared and anxious and crying and nervous and always the last one to figure things out, and although a character like that is nothing out of the ordinary, I didn’t like that the sole girl in the book was made to look like that.
  • The story line was way too close to the Lord of the Rings series for me to accept it without question. Apart from the whole journey motif that runs through both tales, there were many fundamental similarities in plot. The scene where Luwan and Meg meet Killiarn is basically the same as that of Frodo and Co. meeting Strider/Aragorn, and the shape of Inkredia seems too much like Middle Earth.

What I liked:

  • The story was fast-paced and hooking, not boring at all, with the action scenes almost Bollywood-like in their descriptions, but in a good way.
  • I liked how Luwan and Meg aren’t perfect killing machines the moment they are in danger. It keeps them human and realistic.
  • I still would rate the 2 stars if not for the twist at the end that changed a lot of things. That was very smartly done, and it made me reconsider my rating.
  • Fantasy is not an easy genre to write, and the world-building in this series seems pretty solidly done.
  • I must mention the beautiful coloured map and the clear, solid print which made the book much easier to read.

Overall:

While this wasn’t exactly what I had hoped for, I won’t say it was a bad book. I wish it was more original, and the characters more unique and nuanced. However, if you are looking for a traditional fantasy series, then this book is a good pick. There is still scope left in the upcoming installments, so I hope the author does something about Meg’s character and turns the tale into his own narrative with more twists and turns.

Goodreads Summary:

In Fal Doram, also called as the great empire of Inkredia, a conspiracy begins to unfold. The first step is an easy one – kill a simple, villager named Luwan. When Luwan suddenly faces an enemy straight out of the folklore, he is left dumbfounded by the mystery why they are after him. As he makes a daring run to survive, journeying through the unknown world outside his village, new mysteries emerge, some closely concerning him. Riddled with questions and hunted by legendary assassins, and by the nonhumans made of the darkest element in the nature, Luwan makes a dangerous journey through the incredible empire of Inkredia.

Click here to buy a copy of Inkredia (book 1) : https://www.amazon.in/gp/product/8193365801/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_in-21&linkCode=as2&camp=3626&creative=24790 

~ Sreepurna.

Arrival (Lucifer’s Clock #2) by T.Hayden

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Summary:

Just when Michael and Angelica think they can be together the supernatural world threatens to tear them apart and turn their perfect world upside down. Angelica is abruptly assigned a new guardian angel that she instantly dislikes. The relentless bounty hunter returns to collect his bounty, wreaking so much havoc that Angelica is torn away from school and her friends, eventually becoming a prisoner in her home. 

When she thinks things can’t get any worse, she discovers a heartbreaking secret that her family has been keeping from her. Fed up with how her life is progressing Angelica decides to take matters in her own hands. She is done waiting for the beast. It’s time for her to welcome the beast’s arrival. 

Review:

Rating – 3.5 stars (out of 5)

Things I liked:

  • Even though I rated it lower than I rated the first book in the series, I must admit that I liked the writing style of this book much more. I reread Waiting for the Beast right before reading this book, so the comparisons were easy to make. This one reads smoother and the pacing is better.
  • It was super funny at parts. I laughed out loud at Lucifer talking about a “selfie stick” and loved the “feminist fish”.
  • I wasn’t sure about a lot of characters in the first book, but I really loved Roman in this one.
  • Angelica seemed to have more character in this book and I love that she is not merely the most “perfect” person ever but has her own grey shades. I think most of the characters were well-written in terms of character development.

Things I did not like:

  • This series is entirely meant for people who like and read paranormal romance.
  • I still don’t absolutely love Angelica, but yes, she has improved greatly.

Overall:

If you are looking for a clean paranormal romance series with a fast pace plotline, this one is a good choice. However, I personally do not think this book is for everyone.

– Sreepurna. ❤

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The Disappearance of Sally Sequeira ~ Bhaskar Chattopadhyay // Book Review

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Summary:

With its pristine beaches and clear turquoise waters, the picturesque hamlet of Movim in Goa seems like the perfect holiday spot for detective Janardan Maity and his friend Prakash Ray. But when the father of a local teenage girl receives a letter asking for a large sum of money in exchange for his daughter, Maity and Prakash find themselves in the thick of an unlikely mystery. For, they discover, the girl has not been kidnapped at all, and is safe and sound in her house.

As they begin to investigate, the duo encounter the mysterious characters who inhabit the tiny village, each hiding a secret of their own – not least the frail and shy Sally Sequeira, who keeps to herself but steps out at night to dance to the notes of a piano.

What truth does Movim hide? And how will Janardan Maity solve a crime that has not yet been committed?

Review:

Thank you Hachette India for providing a review copy! All opinions in the following review are my own honest thoughts.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Things I liked about the book:

  • The plot line was really nice. It can be difficult to write a well-rounded detective story, but Chattopadhyay manages to pull off the “mystery” factor pretty well.
  • The story was not one filled with unnecessary details. It is short, compact and hooking.
  • The whole assembly of a variety of characters. Detective stories have a typical way of incorporating a certain group of new characters for every installment, and this is what makes each novel different and interesting. The Disappearance of Sally Sequeira has realistic and smoothly written characters that enhance the plotline.
  • The setting. I have never been to Goa, but it seems to be a rather smart choice for a backdrop. I don’t remember reading anything before that has been set in Goa, especially not a detective novel, and I was charmed by the beautiful descriptions and the secluded and breezy feel it lent to the story.

Things I didn’t like about the book:

  • Being a Bengali, I have been brought up on the steady diet of fish and Feluda novels. There was too much of the latter in this book. There is a very fine line between inspiration and plain echoing, and I wish this book had more of its own style to offer. The author is clearly a good writer, and I personally feel that he could reach his best potential by letting go of the Byomkesh-Feluda-Holmes-Poirot vibe that overshadowed everything else.
  • I wish I liked Prakash a bit more. Since the Feluda comparison is inevitable, I can’t help but compare Prakash to Topshe (who I LOVE with all my heart, just saying).

Overall:

The Disappearance of Sally Sequeira is a great beach read. If you are looking for a short and fast-paced detective novel to read, this one is perfect. Although the book has its limitations, I believe that the author has a lot of potential and can grow better at this art with a few alterations in style. Sidenote, the cover of this book is gorgeous.

Visit Amazon to get yourself a copy of this book: https://www.amazon.in/Disappearance-Sally-Sequeira-Bhaskar-Chattopadhyay/dp/9351951723 

Happy reading,

Sreepurna. ❤