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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.

View all my reviews

– 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.

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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. ❤

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The Night of Broken Glass – Feroz Rather // Book Review

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Summary:

Over the last three decades, Kashmir has been ravaged by insurgency. While reams have been written on it – in human rights documents, academic theses, non-fiction accounts of the turmoil, and government and military reports – the effects of the violence on its inhabitants have rarely been rendered in fiction. Feroz Rather’s The Night of Broken Glass corrects that anomaly. Through a series of interconnected stories, within which the same characters move in and out, the author weaves a tapestry of the horror Kashmir has come to represent. His visceral imagery explores the psychological impact of the turmoil on its natives – Showkat, who is made to wipe off graffiti on the wall of his shop with his tongue; Rosy, a progressive, jeans-wearing ‘upper-caste’ girl who is in love with ‘lower-caste’ Jamshid; Jamshid’s father Gulam, a cobbler by profession who never finds his son’s bullet-riddled body; the ineffectual Nadim ‘Pasture’, who proclaims himself a full-fledged rebel; even the barbaric and tyrannical Major S, who has to contend with his own nightmares. Grappling with a society brutalized by the oppression of the state, and fissured by the tensions of caste and gender, Feroz Rather’s remarkable debut is as much a paean to the beauty of Kashmir and the courage of its people as it is a dirge to a paradise lost.

Review:

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Thanks to HarperCollinsIndia for the review copy in exchange for an honest review.

Things I liked:

– The writing style: Feroz Rather’s writing oozes sophistication and beauty. I loved the lyrical quality of the words, and the author’s grip over the language was well established.

– The different styles of narrative: The book is a series of connected short stories, and some stories are in first person narrative, some in third, and one of them reads almost like a love letter. While it’s slightly confusing, I really enjoyed reading these different styles, and thought the author used them all really well.

– The emotions: Writing about emotions is not very easy; it can easily seem forced. But the stories here generate emotions easily. While they rely a little too heavily on incidents, there were many parts where the author uses solely his words to make you feel something, and it’s all very well written.

Things I didn’t like:

– Timeline: It was very hard for me to keep track of the changing timelines. To connect each story, you also need to figure out the time when it is set. Even within the story, there are changes in timeline as the narrator thinks about past incidents.

– Characters: There were some stories where I loved some characters, but there were many where I didn’t really form much of an opinion about them. I think many of the characters could be a little better fleshed out with just a few additional sentences.

Overall:

The Night of Broken Glass is a short and emotional read with tales that make you think. Definitely worth a read if this is your genre. It was interesting to read a book such as this. While the stories are sort of confusing at first, things more or less fall into place in this fast-paced and evocative read.

Buy the book here: https://www.amazon.in/Night-Broken-Glass-Feroz-Rather/dp/9352641612/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1533446644&sr=1-2&keywords=the+night+of+broken+glass

~ Sreepurna. ❤