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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. ❤

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Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes? – Holly Bourne : Book review

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Summary:

Welcome to Camp Reset, a summer camp with a difference. A place offering a shot at “normality” for Olive, a girl on the edge, and for the new friends she never expected to make – who each have their own reasons for being there. Luckily Olive has a plan to solve all their problems. But how do you fix the world when you can’t fix yourself?

Book Review:

Rating: 4 stars /5

Thank you UsborneYA for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

What a bold and honest book. I was a little unsure before going into it, because while I had heard a lot about Holly Bourne’s books, I had never read them before. Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes? ended up being a book I enjoyed a lot. As is clear from the message it is trying to spread, #KindnessIsContagious, Bourne’s YA novel deals with the important issue of how society as a whole affects the mental health of a particular individual. The writing is very concise but effective. Olive is a difficult protagonist to “relate with” or even at times have a liking for, but I could feel her moods changing in the way the author changes the tone of her voice. I was also surprised by how much I liked almost every character, especially the Camp Reset group. Special mentions to Sophie (whom I could understand best), Lewis (who was the sweetest and the most precious thing ever), and Jamie (who looks like everything I detest but ended up making me want to give him a hug. He is also refreshingly realistic, in a way that I can’t explain further without giving spoilers).

While the novel is mostly fast-paced, at around the 75% mark I started waiting for the inevitable, and it got sort of tiring. I am not sure if it was only me, and I am not even sure of the reason, but there were parts when things got really overwhelming, especially with some of Olive’s internal thought processes. Parts of it made me feel low in a way that goes beyond the usual sadness you feel from reading something sad. I have a feeling that this book should come with some trigger warnings, but I can’t really put my finger on what exactly they should be for? There were just some parts when I had to close the book and tell myself to breathe. Anyway, Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes? also does a great job in exploring the topic of mental health, and, in the process, showing how abstract and complex the topic can be.

The best part about the novel is how purposeful it is. The message is strong and beautiful, and the book itself is like a movement. I love how Holly Bourne sort of employs these characters and pages to spread a message beyond the fictional world. It’s been a while since I read a YA book that had such a clear and obvious point to its existence. I cannot not recommend such a book that wants to spread the virus of kindness, and while it’s slightly long and not perfectly flawless, it’s a book that I would want everyone to read. You can’t go wrong in trying to spread kindness.

XO

– Sreepurna.

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“and then the sun came crashing in” // summer playlist + reading list

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Playlist:

All the songs that remind me of summer. (Scroll down for 8tracks link).

  1. Riptide – Vance Joy
  2. Sand in my shoes – Dido
  3. Rhythm of love – Plain White T’s
  4. Waves – Dean Lewis
  5. Someone New – Hozier
  6. Brighter Than The Sun – Colbie Caillat
  7. Some Nights – Fun
  8. Best Day of My Life – American Authors
  9. Wake Me Up – Avicii
  10. Rude – Magic!
  11. Lush Life – Zara Larsson
  12. Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars
  13. Happy – Pharell Williams

Bonus songs: Here Comes The Sun – The Beatles, Barcelona – Ed Sheeran

Here’s this same playlist on 8tracks –

http://8tracks.com/mixes/8733661/player_v3_universal

“and then the sun came crashing in” // summer playlist from Sripurna on 8tracks Radio.

 

Reading List:

Summer mainly feels like YA contemporary novels, but I’ve tried to incorporate some other books as well.

  1. Summer series by Jenny Han – I am not a fan of this series personally, but I don’t think you can exclude this one from a “summer reads list”.
  2. The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater – Henrietta always feels like summer.
  3. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart – Not summer-y in a cheerful sort of way, but more like in a dark way.
  4. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – Self explanatory
  5. Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare – Of all of Shakespeare’s plays, this one is particularly summer-y.
  6. Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah – I remember reading this one summer years ago.
  7. The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson – I call these books “quality YA”. It had one of my favourite books of all time. And basically all of Matson’s books are very summer-y.
  8. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee – Essentially gives off summer vibes.
  9. I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson – Have you seen the name of this book??
  10. Summer Days and Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins – I haven’t read this one, but it is necessarily a collection of twelve short stories in summer.

Hope you guys are having a lovely summer! XO

Sreepurna. ❤

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Rosie Loves Jack by Mel Darbon – Book Review // Strong, heart-wrenching, beautiful, like Rosie.

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Summary:

Rosie loves Jack. Jack loves Rosie. So when they’re split up, Rosie will do anything to find the boy who makes the sun shine in her head. Even run away from home. Even cross London and travel to Brighton alone, though the trains are cancelled and the snow is falling. Even though any girl might find that hard, let alone a girl with Down’s syndrome. See the world through new eyes in this one-in-a-million story about fighting for the freedoms that we often take for granted: independence, tolerance and love.

Review: 

Rating: 4.5 stars / 5

When you see a book written from the point-of-view of a teenage girl with Down’s syndrome, you can have two reactions – happiness to see such a book being written, and scepticism because you aren’t sure how well it will be written. This book is so kind and sweet and well-written, it melted my sceptic heart.

Things I liked:

  • The Down’s Syndrome rep: I had no knowledge about this condition beyond what I studied in Biology, and I am truly thankful to this book for making me see the less clinical and more human side of things. What stood out to me was that ultimately human emotions are the same, whether you are medically considered “normal” or not.
  • Rosie and Jack: When you read this book, it seems to be mostly about Rosie. But then I realised, Rosie would probably disagree. The book is called Rosie Loves Jack, and it took me a while to understand why. In a way, this journey is solely Rosie’s, and when Rosie tells Jack, “You make me strong”, my first reaction was, “Girl, you’re plenty strong just by yourself.” However, maybe discounting the importance of Jack is discounting Rosie’s narrative itself, because that is precisely what she tries to make everyone understand – that broken as Jack is, he makes “the sun shine in her head”, and you can’t dismiss that, can you? [Also, Rose and Jack? Their very names? You have to root for them.]
  • The narration: “See the world through new eyes,” says the back cover of the ARC I received, and indeed Mel Darbon did a magnificient job in showing me the world through Rosie’s innocent and brave eyes.
  • This book had such a realistic mix of good and bad people, it simultaneously scared me and restored my faith in the world? Their were good people, kind people, horrible people, sad people, grey people. A perfect depiction of the human capacity to be evil as well as empathetic.
  • Exposure of double standards: It not only showed the sort of prejudices a girl with Down’s Syndrome or some other health issue has to overcome, but also the double standards society has regarding boys and girls of the same age. There were these subtle examples that were perfectly thrown in, but you’ve got to read the book to find out.
  • Rose Tremayne: In a way, this book is a very typical example of a kind of coming of age story, and I kept thinking about James Joyce’s “Araby” when I was reading it. Rosie doesn’t lose herself, but she learns about how promises can be broken, and sees the darkness in the world. Her courage is inspiring, and she taught me so many things.

Things I didn’t like:

Nothing much. I only thought the pace of the book became a little slow somewhere in the middle, but that was probably because I was impatient to finish it.

Overall:

Rosie Loves Jack is in the same vein such as YA books like Everything, Everything, Made You Up, or When We Collided , and I highly recommend this book to everyone, irrespective of age. Because it doesn’t matter how old you are, Rosie will teach you something.

The book doesn’t release before September 2018, but I suggest you put it in your TBR right now.

Here’s the Goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39313720-rosie-loves-jack?ac=1&from_search=true

Thanks Usborne YA for the ARC!

Sreepurna.