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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. ❤

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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.

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“for angels to fly” // winter reading list + playlist

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Winter. Is. Here. Christmas shopping has begun, the lights have been hung up, it has begun to snow in some places, and in my land of very boring weather, it’s actually slightly cold *impressed face*. I hope you have a cup of hot, steaming coffee or chocolate beside you, ’cause here’s a list of books and songs for you to check out this season while chilling out during the holidays.

READING LIST (basically a list of books that are sure to put you in a winter-y mood if IG wasn’t enough):

(These books are all of different genres; I hope you’ll find at least some you’ll like. Click on the book names to go to their respective Goodreads pages)

1. Comfort and Joy – Kristin Hannah

Very Christmas-y, very sweet. Mostly classified as romance and women’s fiction, Comfort and Joy is a cozy tale about relationships with a hint of magic.

2. The Grisha Trilogy – Leigh Bardugo

A series belonging to the genres of fantasy and romance, Bardugo’s books are a delight to read. The Grishaverse is cold and tumultuous, the central nation Ravka inspired by Russia. Although it is classified as YA, I believe it’s equally appealing to many older readers as well.

3. Landline – Rainbow Rowell

A super cute book based around Christmas, Landline has a rather mixed variety of characters, who are not always likeable, but very real all the same. A must-read for fans of Kristin Hannah, John Green, and Cecelia Ahern.

4. The Gift – Cecelia Ahern

Another book based around Christmas, The Gift is a typical Ahern novel – magical and filled with twists and turns. If you want a book that will truly make you introspect as well as put you in a mood for Christmas, this is perfect.

5. No Ordinary Star trilogy – M.C. Frank

Perfect for fans of Ray Bradbury and/or dystopian novels, M.C. Frank’s trilogy No Ordinary Star is the must-read for this winter. The connection to winter and/or Christmas is something you need to find out from the book 😉 Also, the third and final installment just came out yay! 😀 Here’s my review of the first book of the series (I have reviewed all three books on this blog if you want to check them out). Plus, these books have the most gorgeous covers ever.

6. The Gift of the Magi – O. Henry

This is actually a short story, for all you busy people. You have no excuse for getting out of this one. I promise you won’t regret reading it.

7. Hercule Poirot’s Christmas – Agatha Christie

Where are all my fellow Christie fans? This one is my favourite Christmas-y murder story, not to mention one of my top favourite Poirot mysteries.

8. Devil In Winter – Lisa Kleypas

This book is not for everyone. However, if you like an occasional historical romance as a guilty pleasure, this book is one of my favorites. The hero is one of my all-time favourite anti-heroes, and the story is just so sweet :”) You can read it as a standalone, but I’d recommend reading the entire Wallflowers series for full effect.

9. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

If you haven’t read this book, winter is a good time to wrap yourself up in a blanket and speed through it. And if you have read it, this is the perfect season for a re-read, is it not?

10. Harry Potter series – J.K. Rowling

Yes, yes, most of you Potterheads have probably started reading this again already. After all, what better time to visit Hogwarts than winter? :”) A winter reading list is incomplete without some HP, it seems.

PLAYLIST (songs to remind you of winter):

http://8tracks.com/mixes/8733662/player_v3_universal

“it’s too cold outside, for angels to fly” // winter playlist from Sripurna on 8tracks Radio.

  1. Winter Things – Ariana Grande
  2. The A Team – Ed Sheeran
  3. Fix You – Coldplay
  4. Silent Night – Taylor Swift
  5. Home – Ramin Djawadi (Stark theme from Game of Thrones)
  6. Mary Did You Know – Pentatonix
  7. Come Away to the Water – Maroon 5
  8. More Than This – One Direction
  9. Take Me To Church – Hozier
  10. Hallelujah – Pentatonix / Leonard Cohen
  11. Last Christmas – Ariana Grande / Taylor Swift
  12. All I Want For Christmas Is You – Mariah Carey

I hope you are having a great winter, and Merry Christmas!

-Sreepurna.

 

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Looking for a YA series to read this Christmas? // No Vain Loss by M.C. Frank : Book Review

NO VAIN LOSS (NO ORDINARY STAR #3)


Summary:

A soldier is summoned to the North Pole, days before the year changes, told to fix the great Clock for a celebration. He has no idea what to do.A girl, hunted for the crime of being born, almost dies out on the ice. She is rescued by the last polar bear left alive.
A library waits for them both, a library built over a span of a hundred years, forgotten in the basement of an ice shack.
The world hasn’t known hunger or sickness in hundreds of years. It has also forgotten love and beauty.
This is the One World.
The year is 2524.

Inspired by the short stories of Ray Bradbury, this futuristic young adult novel in three parts is set in a world where Christmas -among other things- is obsolete and a Clock is what keeps the fragile balance of peace.

Written in three parts, this is the breathtaking story of how two unlikely people change the world, and each other, one book at a time.

In No Vain Loss, the world is on the brink of the greatest war humanity has ever known. Lives will be lost. New truths will be revealed.

Review:

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

What I liked:

This series is definitely one of my all-time favorites. I don’t think I have come across a better written young adult series; most of them are either too simplistic, or cheesy, or transparently copying The Hunger Games so that the sales are high. No Ordinary Star on the hand is a fresh story, built on a striking, frozen, cold background (I adore the imagery). The characters are the absolute best. Felix was stupid and adorable and Astra was strong and beautiful and fiery.  The first two parts of the story had already stolen my heart, and quite predictably, I found this installment near perfect. It was an absolutely breathtaking read and I just wanted to read without stopping, and in fact forgot to take notes for writing the review (which is why this review is so messy). The books are each really short, they don’t take much time to finish, hardly a sitting or two. However, M.C. Frank packs a huge amount of emotions, suspense, and sheer beauty in these pages. Not going to lie, the ending made me cry and it was beautiful. When I first finished it, I thought there were quite a lot of loose ends, but I feel like I LIKE how the ending is a little unresolved, giving you space to think.

What I didn’t like:

Not much, but I do wish there was more world-building, because I wanted to know more of the world. However, I don’t think the length and the style of the series would really support more intricate details, so I am happy with how it was all the same.

Overall:

If you are looking for short reads to go with your Christmas-y mood, BUT you don’t want to read something too cheesy or too serious, this. is. perfect. I cannot stress more on how much I adore MC. Frank’s versatile writing style, and I highly recommend this series (and her other books) from the very bottom of my heart.

The fact that the covers of all three book are STUNNING is an added plus.

Happy reading guys!

– Sreepurna.

💜💙