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The Forest of Enchantments – Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni // Book review with a few spoilers

The Forest of EnchantmentsThe Forest of Enchantments by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4 stars to this wonderful retelling of The Ramayana and exploration of the nature of love.

***MIGHT CONTAIN SOME SPOILERS, depending on what you consider spoiler-y***

Things I liked:

– I am a huge fan of Divakaruni’s ways of turning these masculine tales into a woman’s story. Like Palace of Illusions, The Forest of Enchantments gives voice to the women in an epic. The novel is not only from Sita’s point-of-view, a Sitayan, but also focuses on the several marginal female characters who are overshadowed by the four brothers, the old king, the demon king, and numerous other male characters. One of my favourite lines, for instance, is Sita’s observation of her sister Urmila’s plight:

“Forgive me, Sister, I said silently, you who are the unsung heroine of this tale, the one who has the tougher role: to wait and worry.”

– While Sita’s character and observations on love seem a bit too naive and emotional in the beginning, she visibly grows up as the book progresses. She still talks about love in the end, but it is very clearly a more polished view on the matter now, after the many challenges life has thrown at her. It includes the thorny side of love too, the dark and negative side of it.

– Ravan was probably my favourite character. Divakaruni did not turn him into a hero (that would be too predictable), but kept all of his complexities intact, making him an extremely mysterious character. Another interesting factor was Sita’s sympathy towards Surpanakha, and the unease she feels towards her husband and brother-in-law’s behaviour towards this woman.

– The feminist in me was delighted by some of the points Sita makes. For instance:

“If you reject me now, word will travel across Bharatvarsha, and men everywhere will feel that they, too, can reject a wife who has been abducted. Or even been touched against her will. Countless innocent women – as innocent as I am – will be shunned and punished because of your act. Is that dharma? Is that what you want?”

Things I did not like:

– Some parts of the novel were a little preach-y, I guess?

– I cannot help but compare this novel to Palace of Illusions, which I had rated 5 stars. I do understand thought that it is easier to write a more complex and nuanced novel with Mahabharata (which is itself more nuanced) than to write one with Ramayana (which is comparatively straight-forward).

Overall:

Despite its minor flaws, I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in retellings of Indian epics. The novel is intense and well-constructed, and the ending is absolutely glorious.

View all my reviews

Happy reading!

-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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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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After The Fire ~ Will Hill : Book Review // A must-read

I finished reading this book ages back, but couldn’t review it because of exams 😦 Anywho..

Summary:

Father John controls everything inside The Fence. And Father John likes rules. Especially about never talking to Outsiders. Because Father John knows the truth. He knows what is right, and what is wrong. He knows what is coming.

 

Moonbeam is starting to doubt, though. She’s starting to see the lies behind Father John’s words. She wants him to be found out.


What if the only way out of the darkness is to light a fire?

Review:
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

The things I have seen. They’re burned into me, like scars that refuse to fade.”

This book gave me major goosebumps.

When I first started reading this, I had NO idea what it was about. But the writing style was engrossing, so I was hooked. By the time I finished it though, I realised it is SO much more than what I initially imagined it to be.

After The Fire has been published as a YA novel, but I feel like that’s a misleading term, to a point. The main character, Moonbeam, is an young adult, but the themes in this books are something that adult audiences shouldn’t miss either.

The storyline, first of all, is very unique, atleast to me. There are of course many novels about cults, but I haven’t read many, and I am sure not many of them are for such a wide range of readers. I am not going to go into the details of the story, which I know is unhelpful, but I don’t want to give anything away.

I loved Moonbeam’s point of view, and the Before- After chapter style. The story was thoroughly chilling, at times horrifying, and throughout intriguing. I had a lot of questions while reading it, but everything was answered in the end, zero loopholes.

The story also involves psychological treatment of a girl who hasn’t known “normal” in a long long time. I am no psychology student, but I think all the processes and results shown in the book were pretty realistic and genuine. 

As for the other characters, again I can’t go much into details without giving spoilers, so I suggest you should just read the book. 😂 

There were definitely negative things about this book. Mainly, it was silghtly repetitive at parts. But my counter argument is that the repetitiveness was required for full effect, all the detailed descriptions of the horrific crimes going on inside the cult were necessary, to prove the point of the story.

However, I would like to mention, this book doesn’t condemn or criticise any religious practices. It talks about an extremist cult, it ultimately boils down to power and corruption and not religious beliefs. It teaches you how powerful and convincing some people can be and also is a story of survival and recovery.

Overall, this book is highly recommended to readers of any genre. It’s dark and moving and entirely captivating. Thanks to the publishers for sending in an ARC, because I would have missed reading this wonderful book otherwise.

~ Sreepurna

💞

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Waiting for the Beast (Lucifer’s Clock) (Vol. 1) ~ T. Hayden : Book Review 

Summary: 

Angelica is drop dead gorgeous, lives in a sprawling mansion with her two aunts, attends a prestigious private school, is an A student and excels at everything she does effortlessly. She has a great life. That is until her 16th birthday and her family is forced to tell her the truth.Her aunts are actually supernatural beings that have been charged with protecting Angelica from her father, Lucifer. He has put a bounty on Angelica’s head and every creature from the Abyssal Realm a.k.a Hell is looking for her. In addition she has a hot guardian angel that has been assigned to her since birth that she can now see. She is suddenly thrust into a dangerous, magical world. Between dealing with her new identity, a love interest, hiding from her father, and just trying to be a teenager she has to make a decision to run, fight or wait for the darkness to consume her

Review: 

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

I couldn’t put this book down once I started it! It was extremely fast-paced and highly entertaining. And to top it all off, it sent me into this paranormal romance craving, and I went about reading books from that genre all throughout last month. 

Out of all the characters, I believe Michael was my favorite. He is so sweet (not to mention swoon-worthy). I loved how kickass archangel Gabriel is too. The main character, Angelica, is a little naive and juvenile, but that’s realistic if you consider her background and age. Although I disliked Lucifer a lot, perhaps, somewhere the character might have a chance for redemption later in the series? Or maybe not.

The author’s writing style is quite appreciable considering this is her debut novel. I am not very familiar to the Bible, I only read it last year because it was part of my Literature course, but I did not have problem understanding the story because it was all explained quite well. At times the supernatural aspect was a little too overwhelming, but otherwise I enjoyed reading the story a lot.

The romance part of this story was very innocent and sweet, and I can’t wait to know the rest of the story! The ending was perhaps not a straight cliff hanger; but I became so invested in the characters that I need to know whar happens next.

Overall I would recommend Waiting for the Beast to fans of fantasy and paranormal stories. I’d say it’s also appropriate for a YA audience. The author is very talented and the story is fluid and captivating. The plotline is also very unique and fresh!

Get yourself a copy here:

https://www.amazon.com/Waiting-Beast-Lucifers-Clock-1/dp/1500900168/ref=sr_1_1_twi_pap_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1487781088&sr=8-1&keywords=waiting+for+the+beast+book

~ Sreepurna.

💜




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Fragmented Bliss ~ B.J. Rosalind: Book Review // A poetic journey through love, life and healing.

Summary:

A collection of honest musings on the misadventures of life and love, “Fragmented Bliss” embarks readers on a journey to collapse in laughter and tears because that is how galaxies of memories are formed.

Review:

Rating : 4 stars

“People forget that people who can swim drown too”

I generally don’t read poetry collections as a whole, but I am glad I read this one. I was madly in love with B.J. Rosalind’s words from the very first page. Poems can be lyrical, extravagant, full of poetic devices like metaphors and paradoxes, but what struck me about these poems was the sheer honesty in them. It felt like each and every one of them came from the very soul.

None of the writings are very difficult to understand, they are straightforward and impactful, just how I prefer poems to be. I am of course not any expert in poetry, but I believe art is something you need to feel to understand, and I can’t tell you about the technicalities of the poems but I can tell you they made me feel.

My favorite part about the book was the uniqueness of each poem. Even though they are written by one person, the voices and stories felt different and you can see a lot of perspectives, so it is easier to relate to atleast one of them. A lot of the poems are also open-ended, you can interpret them in your own way.

Some of my favorite poems in the collection were Tangled, Elementary School, The Perfect Student, Inevitable, 6 reasons I hate attachments, Four Phases, To Young Girls, etc…… you get the picture? The whole book was pretty amazing, I think I bookmarked most of the pages.

Overall this is a very beautiful debut, and if you are interested in reading poetry or like reading the fantastic ones we see one Tumblr, you should surely give this book a go. I am looking forward to see more of this young author’s work in future.

“Now, go be your own hero.”

Buy this book from Amazon here

~ Sreepurna.