Friday, 13 September 2013

Book Review : 172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad

It's been decades since anyone set foot on the moon. Now three ordinary teenagers, the winners of NASA's unprecedented, worldwide lottery, are about to become the first young people in space--and change their lives forever.
Mia, from Norway, hopes this will be her punk band's ticket to fame and fortune.
Midori believes it's her way out of her restrained life in Japan.
Antoine, from France, just wants to get as far away from his ex-girlfriend as possible.
It's the opportunity of a lifetime, but little do the teenagers know that something sinister is waiting for them on the desolate surface of the moon. And in the black vacuum of space... no one is coming to save them.
In this chilling adventure set in the most brutal landscape known to man, highly acclaimed Norwegian novelist Johan Harstad creates a vivid and frightening world of possibilities we can only hope never come true.

I read this book over the long weekend (for Ganesh Chaturthi). I had taken a leave on Friday so I would have 4 days to spend in Ahmedabad with my family. So while I was helping my sister move in to her house I read 2 books. One of them was 172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad.

I really liked the premise of this book. I mean if I were given a chance of visiting the Moon I would jump at it. But I also understand the view point of those who would be reluctant to do the same. Even though I liked the premise, the execution of it went a little awry in the middle. But the book redeemed itself at the end.

This book is about NASA restarting the Space program and giving a chance to 3 random teenager to go to the Moon, to visit a previously secret space station on the Moon called DARLAH - 2. These 3 teenagers would be chosen by a lottery and would undergo an intense training before heading off in to space. But NASA is not doing this for the sole reason of exploration alone. There is something that they are hiding from the general public when it comes to this trip to the Moon.

There are different narrators in this book. But for the most part the story is narrated by the 3 teens who get selected - Mia from Norway, Midori from Japan and Antoine from France. Each of them have their own reasons for putting their names up for the lottery. Amongst the 3 I was mostly annoyed with Mia a bit at the beginning of the book. But I started liking her as the time for the Moon launch came nearer.

The book was a little slow, especially the parts before the Moon launch.And the author mostly skipped the 4 days spent on the journey. But the story really picked up once the team landed on the Moon.

I cannot really write about what it is exactly that the astronauts face on the moon without giving something away, so let me just say that the ending was awesome and the suspense that was built up in the 2nd half of the book on the Moon was just right.

I rate this book a 3.5/5.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Book Review : Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A. S. King

Vera’s spent her whole life secretly in love with her best friend, Charlie Kahn. And over the years she’s kept a lot of his secrets. Even after he betrayed her. Even after he ruined everything.

So when Charlie dies in dark circumstances, Vera knows a lot more than anyone—the kids at school, his family, even the police. But will she emerge to clear his name? Does she even want to?

I have been watching a lot of Book Hauls on YouTube lately. And as per usual, I've been reading a lot of blogs about books. And this book has been talked about a lot. And after Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher I thought this would be a good book to read. I have been searching for this book online for a long time. Why not at a bookstore you ask? Here in India Brick and mortar bookstores usually do not stock most of these books. It's usually difficult to get them online too.

That was the case with this book too. Just recently the price was a bit reduced and as it was in my wishlist my Best Friend Chaitra got me this book. So even though I was reading Tomorrow When the War Began by John Marsden (Which is great by the way) I just HAD to start reading this book. And it's got pretty small chapters so I completed it pretty fast.One of the reasons I got through this book so fast is because I read the book while I commuted to and from work. Considering Bangalore traffic, especially during the rainy season, I had ample time to finish the book.

There might be SPOILERS ahead. Read at your own risk.

Let me get the negative aside first. The beginning was a little slow for me. I mean I knew that Charlie, Vera's Ex-Best Friend had died and that the "Ex-" had been added to Best friend very recently. That was all I knew. Though the reason for the death was alluded to very vaguely it was never explained. But It started picking up about 40-50 pages in. The reason for their estrangement and how/why Charlie died was still not explained but a lot of things were talked about that drew me into the story.

The narrative style of the story was, I will not say unique, but different. And it works. It is mostly in Vera's Point of View but a couple of pages in the middle of her Point of View we get to hear a few things in Vera's father's perspective (Ken), Charlie's perspective and even a landmarks perspective, the Pagoda (a make-out spot) on what happens around it. And the narrative was interspersed with flashbacks to Vera and Charlie's childhood and assorted timelines. This was almost always Vera's point of view.

The things I loved about this book were many. I didn't really have a Best Friend till I was out of school. I finally met a group of people whom I got really close to while I was pursuing my Bachelors degree. That was one of the best times I had in life. And though it did not happen to me (Thank God!) I did see really close friends drift apart (putting it mildly) because of rumors and miscommunication and out and out lying that were floating around. So I understood what Vera went through when Charlie turned his back on her (at least to a certain point).

I get what Vera means by trying to escape her destiny.Of becoming her mother. And I also like that by the end it is she who tries to convince her dad that she is not like her mother at all. I liked the dichotomy of Vera moving away from the life that her mother, or rather her parents had and Charlie moving towards the life that his parents have. And part of the reason he became a bit like his dad was because he was trying to protect Vera from himself.

I liked the way the issue of Vera's drinking was addressed too. And I do not want to ruin the book for anyone so I'll just say this. I thought this book was a contemporary novel but there was another element added to it. Some might say it was because of Vera's drinking, but if you read the book and see the perspective it's written in you'll see that it isn't just a contemporary novel. It is harder to define.

The longer I've had to read this book the more I seem to love it. I would rate this book a 4.5/5. And now I am awaiting The Dust of a 100 dogs by A.S. King. I know that Everybody Sees the Ants would be the next logical book to read but I really loved the premise of this book. So I am now waiting to get that book inthe mail.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Book Review : Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker--his classmate and crush--who committed suicide two weeks earlier. On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out how he made the list. Through Hannah and Clay's dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.

I've heard a lot about this book, on goodreads, the blogosphere, vlogosphere, literally everywhere. And it has predominantly been good reviews. So I considered this to be a necessary read for me. Not just because a lot of people say it's a good read (though that was a factor in the decision) but I really was intrigued by the synopsis and the premise.

 I got through the book in about 5-6 hrs. It was a difficult read but the morbid curiosity to know who was next on the tape and what they had done to get on the tapes made me read on, Like the morbid curiosity that the people on the lists had. But they did have an added incentive of the tapes getting out to the public.

I do not know if I was the only one but I empathized with Clay more than I did with Hannah. I am not saying that I do not understand what drove Hannah to suicide. Throughout the whole tape Hannah talked of the Snowball effect that a small instance could have on a persons life, that in her case led her to commit suicide. The tapes spoke of the consequences that a simple list, or action that affect a life. But her action of recording those tapes and sending it to the 13 people had its own consequences.

Though the tapes were Hannah's point of view, the contrast of what Clay thought of the same situations was a great insight. It helped me see the other side of the coin. To me this was not just about a Teenage Girls suicide note but the opportunity lost to have a friendship, maybe even a relationship. And the sad part was that this was not just Hannah's loss but also Clay's. And considering that Clay had feelings for her, and he could not do anything about it anymore.

I liked the ending of this book. It was not a sweet ending but it was open ended. There was still hope.

To me this book has a rating of 4.5/5.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Book Review : Constable & Toop by Gareth P Jones

Sam Toop lives in a funeral parlour, blessed (or cursed) with an unusual gift. While his father buries the dead, Sam is haunted by their constant demands for attention. Trouble is afoot on the 'other side' - there is a horrible disease that is mysteriously imprisoning ghosts into empty houses in the world of the living. And Sam is caught in the middle - will he be able to bring himself to help?

Blue Peter Award winner Gareth P. Jones has woven a darkly comic story, a wonderfully funny adventure that roams the grimy streets of Victorian London.

While I was surfing through Goodreads, I came across this book and the synopsis and the cover just made me want to read this  book. There was no reason or logic behind this feeling. I read about the book and I just knew that this would be something I would like. So I ordered the book online at Flipkart. As it was an imported edition they could not procure the book and had to cancel my order. But I did not give up. I really wanted this book (Because I'm stubborn that way). So I placed an order again when the book was available. I received the book last Thursday!!

I took complete advantage of the long weekend this past week and tried to read more and I did. I finished 2 books. The Other Life by Susanne Winnacker and Constable & Toop. I really like books set in England. Most of the books are mostly set in the United States or in a fantasy world and sometimes a different planet. And I really loved Johnathan Strange and Mr.Norrell by Susanna Clarke. This book reminded me a little of that book. Not a lot but a little.

This book was a pretty quick read too. The story seemed simple enough, the haunted houses were missing their residents which was why a 'Black Rot' sets in in the house. The next ghost which enters the house would be trapped in the house. It was only when I started reading the book for a while, that I realized that there was so much more in this story than what meets the eye. The complexities of the relationship between Sam and his father and the contrast between this relationship and the one between Clara and her father. The world of the Ghosts and their bureaucracy. All of this has really made me enjoy this book even after finishing the book a few days.

So even though I thought I would give this book a 3.5 I think I would now give it a 4/5.

Book Review : The Other Life by Susanne Winnacker

3 years, 1 month, 1 week and 6 days since I’d seen daylight. One-fifth of my life. 98,409,602 seconds since the heavy, steel door had fallen shut and sealed us off from the world

Sherry has lived with her family in a sealed bunker since things went wrong up above. But when they run out of food, Sherry and her dad must venture outside. There they find a world of devastation, desolation...and the Weepers: savage, mutant killers.

When Sherry's dad is snatched, she joins forces with gorgeous but troubled Joshua - an Avenger, determined to destroy the Weepers.

But can Sherry keep her family and Joshua safe, when his desire for vengeance threatens them all?

I had read a couple of good reviews for this book on Goodreads and it was a dystopian novel so I was excited when I saw this book at my local bookstore. You would never guess looking at the cover that this is a Post Apocalyptic novel.

This is a world where the Rabies virus has mutated to such an extent that anyone who contracts the virus either dies or is turned into creatures called "Weepers". They are very aggressive creatures who attack and kill their prey, which is the remaining human population.

I did not love this book as much as I did 'Feed' by Mira Grant but this was still a good read. It was a very quick read too. I liked that this was not a typical zombie movie. This was more of a mutation in humans that are still alive. What happens to these people is more scary. They are alive but have lost touch with humanity. And they are not dumb/unthinking like zombies. They retain the intelligence, if not memories, of being human.

The format in which this book is written is really good. A small snippet of Sherry's life before the advent of the virus. This relates to the title of the book too. I was not a huge fan of the insta-love between Sherry and Joshua. I understand her feelings of security when he is around, I mean he did rescue her. But falling in love in the span of a week or so? That just did not do it for me.


But one of the relationships I did like was the relationship between the siblings. I want to know more about Tyler and about how his and Rachel's relationship will be. When I picked up this book I was not aware that this was a series. Because I usually try and pick up series that are complete or will be complete in a few more months. Now that I do know this is a series I am interested to see what happens in the rest of the books. Especially to see if the Father turns into a weeper.

I would rate this book a 3.5/5.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Book Review : Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder


Avry’s power to heal the sick should earn her respect in the plague-torn land of Kazan. Instead she is feared. Her kind are blamed for the horrifying disease that has taken hold of the nation. When Avry uses her forbidden magic to save a dying child, she faces the guillotine. Until a dark, mysterious man rescues her from her prison cell. His people need Avry’s magic to save their dying prince. The very prince who first unleashed the plague on Kazan.

Saving the prince is certain to kill Avry – yet she already faces a violent death. Now she must choose – use her healing touch to show the ultimate mercy or die a martyr to a lost cause?

I LOVED THIS BOOK!!! Have you ever gone into a bookstore and just browsed through the books? And you think the synopsis looks great so you buy a book? And you completely forget about it once you take it home? That happened to me with this book. So I was just re arranging my book self when I realised I had this book. So I started reading it and it just sucked me in. I did not expect it from this book. I had heard of the other books written by Maria V. Snyder, like the Study series and the Storm glass series, and that they were good. But I fell in love with this book.

----------There might be Spoilers ahead---------

If you see a pattern in the books I usually rave about, they have really strong female characters, for example - Cinder from Cinder by Marissa Meyer, Vin from the Mistborn Trilogy (which I'm yet to finish). You get the idea. And this book has Avry. She is a healer on the run, because healers are considered outlaws. They are thought to be the reason the world is in shambles - that they are the reason the plague spread. So she has had to hide her true nature, till she heals a little girl and she gets outed. Then she gets sprung by a group of people who want her to heal Prince Ryne. Ryne who could be the key to saving the Fifteen Realms.

This is how she meets Kerrick and his merry band of men. There's Flea, Quain, Loren and Belen. Most of these characters are a bit of a cliche but Maria spins the story around them in such a way that you don't really notice. And the back story of each characters are told to us slowly. There is always something that we learn about all of them. The love between Avry and Kerrick isn't insta love, for which I am eternally grateful. She truly dislikes him at the start. But he kinda grows on her, and I guess he kinda grew on me too. But I still liked the parts where Avry interacted with the others in the gang than when she interacted with Kerrick.

And this book was a mix of genres of sorts. I mean it is fantasy, but it also had a bit of the medical genre, covert spy genre and ZOMBIES. Yeah, you heard me Zombies. I couldn't believe it when I read it. And I didn't think it would actually work in this book but it did.

Coming to the villain. Tohon was creepy. He was a good character, for a bad guy. He is a complete sociopath. Which keeps things interesting.

I would also like to see how Avry is going to reconcile with her sister Noelle. I understand why she is pissed off with Avry but going to the extreme that she did seems a bit much. Maybe I'm saying that because I've only heard this story from Avry's POV. Another thing I'm looking forward to in the next installment is a little more explanation on the Death and Peace Lilies and their involvement in the plague and the walking dead.

I am now waiting for the book to be shipped to me. I already put in an order for the Scent of Magic, and I cannot wait for the 3rd and final book Taste of Magic either. All in all I'd rate this book a 4.5+ out of 5.

New on the Shelves

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These are my new acquisitions!! I decided to delve into a few classics. I've always wanted to read The Three Musketeers. Especially after I read The Count of Monte Cristo.

  1. The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
  2. The Man in the Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas
  3. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  4. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
  5. Unnatural Creatures - Stories selected by Neil Gaiman
  6. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
I really loved Cinder by Marissa Meyer. So I am really looking forward to Scarlet. And Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors. I really loved American Gods.

Here is to hoping I get to these books soon enough.

Friday, 2 August 2013

July Recap

Hello All!! So I thought that I would put up a Recap Post. This post will recap all the books I have read (regardless of my reviewing it here on the blog).

I tried reading a lot of books this past month. But could only finish 4 Novels. I also read 4 Graphic novels. Here's the list:

  1. Cinder by Marissa Meyer - Reviewed
  2. Fables Vol. 2 - Bill Willingham
  3. Fables Vol. 3 - Bill Willingham
  4. Fables Vol. 4 - Bill Willingham
  5. Fables Vol. 5 - Bill Willingham
  6. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn - Reviewed
  7. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl - Reviewed
  8. Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder - I really enjoyed this book. The review for this book will be put up probably over the weekend.
So this was it for the July Recap. Coming to the books I plan on reading in August, I've lined up a few books I would like to tackle the following. This is the number of books I would like to read this month but it depends on how busy work keeps me. It could also be that I might not read any of these books at all as I read a book if the fancy strikes me.
  1. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine l'Engle
  2. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (if I receive the book in time. I just placed the order for it)
  3. The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna
  4. Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder
So that is it for the August Reading. I know that there are a few holidays coming up (Eid and Independance day) but I am planning a trip on those weekends so I might not be able to read too many books.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Book Review : Beautiful Creatures by Kimi Garcia & Margaret Stohl

I really liked this book. There was just something about the story that just ensnared me. The premise is not something new in today's bookverse. But for me the interpretation was done just right. I liked it that the book was from Etan's POV. It usually is from the girls perspective (at least in the books I've read). I know this also has a Love at first sight shtick but there was a good back story for that. Ethan and Lena have been dreaming of each other for months. And there is a curse involved.

Coming to the characters, I really loved Amma. That is one feisty lady. I also loved Etan Wate. I liked Lena too but considering the book was in Ethan's voice, I got to know him better. And how refreshing it is to have a hero who is not an arrogant jerk, like in most other YA novels that I have read.

The addressal of the bullying issue in the school was well done. Especially Ethan's take on it that if it were anyone but Lena he might have stood in the sidelines and not said a word. This honest admission won me over.

The Caster world has just opened up in this book and there a lot of things the authors can do with the world they've built in the next 3 books that are a part of this series. So far the foundations that have been laid have just tantalized my curiosity about this world. I hope more information will be shared in the coming books.

This well developed story is what made me like the book. It might have seemed long to some people but I like my books to be lengthy. Mind you the story has to be interesting and well paced. The relationship between Lena and Ethan was sweet. It was slow. They were together, yes, but they didn't officially become boyfriend - girlfriend till quite a few months had passed.

Another thing I liked was that even though their family was against their relationship, they still got together. What is so different about that you ask? They rebelled but if anyone, even Ethan or Lena said anything negative about Amma or Macon respectively they would lash out at each other. Just because they fell in love did not mean they stopped loving their family.

All in all I give this book a 4.5/5.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Book Review : Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

I heard of Gillian Flynn when my sister came up to me with the book Gone Girl and asked me to buy it for her. She told me that she had heard quite a few good reviews about it and wanted to read it. So I got it for her and the book stayed on our shelves since then. I recently went to our local Landmark bookstore and there was an offer on for 2 other books the author had written. I read the synopsis and liked the premise. I have recently been reading a lot of YA, so I wanted to read a crime novel. That is how I came into possession of Sharp Objects and Dark Places by Gillian Flynn.

Sharp Objects was Flynn's debut novel so I started with that. It is one of those novels that slowly creeps up on you. It was not love at first read with this book but I could not put it down. This book was a little depressing, though not as depressing a read as Flowers in the Attic. Flynn described the dysfunctional relationship between the mother and daughter really well. The contrast of how Adora gtreated her 2 daughters was something that made us appreciate the relationship between the 2 sisters and also between them and their mother. In between all of this there is the dead middle sister.

The best part was that though you could kind of tell where the book was going towards the end (with Adora and Camille, the ending was truly unexpected. I would recommend this book to all Crime novel buffs. Now I am all ready to delve into another paranormal YA. I am now reading Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl. This is based in the South too.

Rating - 3.5/5

Friday, 12 July 2013

Word for the day

Hey Everyone! I don't know if I can keep up to what it says on the post title, that is come up with a whacky word for the day, but I just saw this online and had to post it. And these words do not have to be confined to the English language. They could be from any language.

The word I found today aptly describes me as I am today. And it is a Japanese word. It is :

I think the picture explains it all. What do you think? How many of you are doing this right now? Letting your TBR list pile up?

This gives me the kick in the pants I need to finish reading these books before I buy any more.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Random Thoughts/Rants Contd.

I recently got a hike on my salary (Yaaayyy Me!!!). So you could say I've had a cash windfall this month. So I went a little crazy and splurged on books. In my defense this is probably the 2nd or 3 rd time I have indulged myself the whole one year I have been employed. I usually buy maybe a couple of books a month. But in the past 2 weeks I've bought 24 books. I know, It's crazy. On top of this I have another 7 books in my cart on FlipKart. And my hands are getting itchy again. These are the times when I think 1) Why aren't books cheaper and more available where I am? and 2) Why aren't I richer?

One of the reasons I've been crazy with my online book shopping is, apart from the afore mentioned windfall, is that I have discovered a few wonderful blogs. They are Blog of Erised, Paperiot, Books of Amber. They have great reviews of books. Most of them review YA but these books lead me to other great books. For this I am eternally grateful to Goodreads. I would not have come across so many great books otherwise. I also took part in a Read -A - Thon hosted by Books of Amber. This was so much fun. The rules stated that I would have to read only debut authors. So I tried to complete 3 books but I finished 2. Which is still a great achievement considering the time limit was 4 days.

I read Mila 2.0 and Pivot Point. As you can see both are from the young adult genres. This is something else that I need to  be grateful for. The discovery of great young adult books. after having read these debuts I was really floored. I mean these are debut authors, maybe just a few years older and sometimes even younger than me. And they have come up with such great stories. And it is not just these authors that I am in awe of, but all of them. I mean can you imagine the work that goes into a 250-300 page book?

They have to think up a reasonable storyline, great characters - I mean a story would fall flat on its face if the characters were not well developed. Take the case of Cinder for instance. The basic premise is that of Cinderella, a story that has been around for years and years. No matter that the setting has changed, it is still the same basic story. But Cinder, as a character made a huge difference in this story. And to make Cinder into such a kick-ass heroine, a good background needed to be built for her. I mean part of a persons character is built by the situation in which they have found themselves in life, over time. And the author has to create a world for these people to inhabit. And most importantly in my view, he/she would have to be true to their characters till the end.

This is just unfathomable to me, how one person can come up with all of this. I mean you might think that if you've read one dystopian novel and you've read them all. But that is not true. This is the case with every genre. Yes there are exceptions to this rule but  that is beside the point. One of the authors that I have recently read who has blown me away is Brandon Sanderson. I heard he was finishing the Wheel of Time series after Robert Jordan passed away. I did not even know of him. Then I was surfing the net trying to find a good fantasy novel to read and I stumbled across the Mistborn trilogy. I read the Final Empire and I fell in love. It has all the elements that make a great story. And Sanderson's world building skills are A-MA-ZING!

This brings me to another thought that has been niggling my brain. A long time ago I had read a short story where an author could bring to life the world that he writes about. He then goes on to write himself into the story (I think there was an episode like that on the X-Files). Anyways, I suddenly thought what if this happens every time someone writes a novel or a story? I mean there is the multiple universes theory right? So maybe the things that an author writes about are things that are happening or have happened in a parallel universe? Something to think about innit? Anyways, this is the end of this slight mental detour. This is rantception at its best :P A rant in a rant.

The above paragraph of detour aside, what I am trying to say is that I truly appreciate all the authors out there who put in a lot of work and effort in to making characters and worlds for us readers to enjoy. books have always been my avenue of escape. The best part is it is an accepted mode of escape. I mean parents actually encourage you to read, unlike watching television.

And it is not just the published authors I would like to thank but also the would be or aspiring writers. Because without them there would not be these amazing blogs out there. The blogging community is so full of talent. I feel like I am worse than an amateur when it comes to blogging. They actually not only write about their passion but also encourage others to follow their passions. They might not directly do so but with the amount of time and effort and love that they put into their blogs I cannot help but feel encouraged to do the same.

I know this blog does not have a great look or have many followers. For all I know no one might be reading this post. But I will try harder. I have always loved reading books and watching movies. I know I do not have the technical knowledge for seriously reviewing a book or a movie. But I do know what I like and do not like. So I will start as I have with reviews that are based on what I felt while watching the movie or reading a book (this is where I showcase my opinion after all). Maybe somewhere down the line I will get good enough that people will actually listen to my suggestions.

So here is a huge thank you to all the authors (published and aspiring alike) and all the bloggers blogging about their passion.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Book Review : Cinder by Marissa Meyer

I've been coming across Cinder in a lot of people's favorite lists on Goodreads and on blogs. The first time I came across it I liked the premise, though I did not pay much attention to it. As my friends would tell you I tend to like almost everything when it comes to books and especially when it comes to movies. I have also watched a couple of movie adaptations of the classic Cinderella story - Ella Enchanted and Ever After. I loved the former more than the latter. One of the reasons being that in this version she mostly helped herself instead of a mythical Fairy Godmother who waves her magic wand and makes the problems disappear.

So this book has always been at the periphery of my to be read books list. So when there was a major discount on this book online I took it as a sign and bought the book. I loved this book so much that I've already ordered for the 2nd installment in the series, Scarlet.

This was one exciting read. More than anything the best part was Cinder Linh. I LOVED her!! I mean, at least in the movie Ever After, Danielle - played by Drew Barrymore. had a kind of fairy Godmother in the form of DaVinci. But Cinder has no one. Just an android friend named Iko. Not only is she the Step Daughter that the Step Mother loathes, she also has to contend with being a Cyborg.

Whenever I think of a cyborg I think of the Bionic Woman. You know with increased strength and super sense and gadgets. Lots and lots of gadgets. But that is not the case with Cinder. She has to survive with a leg that she was fitted with when she was 11. And even though she is the sole earner (she's a mechanic) in the house hold, being a cyborg, she is the property of her Step Mother.

Cinder is one of the most kick-ass female heroines out there in the book world. She is right beside Dagny Taggart (from Atlas Shrugged) for me. The story has been paced really well. Though there are places in the books that the story is a bit predictable but the classic Cinderella story has been given quite a spin. I mean not only are people on earth suffeeing from a plague to which there is no cure, they face a huge threat from the Lunars. Descendants of humans who set up a colony on the Moon and now have extraordinary powers that lets them manipulate normal Earth humans.

And the Prince is being pressurized to marry the Queen of the Lunars - Queen Levana. So this book is a melting pot of genres and Marissa Meyer has a great recipe. I just hope this continues with Scarlet.

One of the best scenes for me was when Cinder stands up to her Step Mother and the part where she goes to the ball completely soaked from head to toe in a dress that is a had me down of sorts and silk gloves covered in grease. She is a girl that has not known love at all. And all those that have come close to loving her have left her (either voluntarily or involuntarily). She is ostracized but she still has a back bone (though it is reinforced). She still manages to open herself up a little in this book.

I cannot wait to read Scarlet where I'll meet Cinder and Kaito and hopefully Iko again. I'm thinking this will have something to do with Little Red Riding Hood. I hope it gets delivered by next Monday. In the meantime I am reading Obsidian by Jennifer Armentrout on audiobook and a physical copy of Divergent by Veronica Roth. I would rate this book a 4.5/5.

I am hoping this counts towards my Dystopia challenge. This will be a read count of 1/6.

Movie Review : The Lone Ranger

I have not read any Lone Ranger comics. Though I know of the characters because my Dad spoke of a few of his adventures. So I know a few references like who Tonto, Silver are and the term Kemosabe. So as soon as I heard that the movie The Lone Ranger had hit the theaters I had to go watch the movie.

I went to watch this movie over the weekend. I was not expecting much as I had very little idea what this was about. Just that a Texas Ranger and a Native American would get together and fight crime (along with the help of their trusty horse Silver).

The movie was loooong. It was 2 and a half hours long. And it was slow at some places. I would have loved the comic as the premise is something I would like. The dependence on the horse somehow reminds me of the Phantom comics. I enjoyed the parts where Johnny Depp was present. Those were a treat. To be honest I liked the chemistry between Tonto and Silver to be more interesting than the one between Tonto and Sam Reid. Don't mistake me, it was good. But the scenes where Tonto and Silver were portrayed was so much more engaging. John Reid was portrayed well enough by Armie Hammer.

One of the major complaints I had with this movie was that the score sounded a lot like that of Pirates of the Caribbean. I would've liked a better score. Something more original.

Anyways I am off to find the comics so I can read them and judge for myself which was better. All in all the movie was pretty entertaining but nothing to write home about. So I give it 2.7/5.

Friday, 28 June 2013

Movie Review: Now You See Me

I was out with a friend last weekend and I was bummed that he had already watched Man of Steel. Then on the spur of the moment we decided to go watch Now You See Me. I did not even know the premise.

Just getting to watch this movie was an adventure. The first place we tried to get tickets for this movie there was a late night show and nothing that afternoon. So we quickly used our superpowers (smartphones) to find a cinema hall that was actually showing this movie. We found one that had a show in an hours time.

The theater was 40 min away. So we raced to the car and got stuck in traffic when we were about 5 min away and the show was starting in 15 min. I raced to get the tickets and there was a long queue for the tickets. I realized that there weren't many tickets left ( which, I should've realized, meant the movie was good as the movie had been out for 3 weeks by then) . I was hoping that we wouldn't get stuck with front row seats. Luckily the seats we got were in the 4th row from the top. We rushed in to the screen where the movie was playing. We were just in time for the show.

For a spur of the moment decision, I enjoyed this movie a lot. I mean it's about magic, a heist and secret societies? Count me in. This movie was a roller coaster ride. I really enjoyed the cat and mouse chase between Mark Ruffalo and the Four Horsemen. I have always loved Ruffalo since I first saw him in Just like Heaven. He didn't disappoint here.

For all those who still haven't watched this movie, my advice would be to GO WATCH IT!! This was just great. I would give it a 4.5/5.

Debut - A- Thon Update & Challenge

Yaaaaayyy!!! I just completed Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza. I have been reading about it a lot. So I put it on my TBR list. I think one of the reasons I was able to finish reading this book is because 1) It was very fast paced and 2) I was excited to be part of the Debut -A- Thon.

I read The Mad Scientist's Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clark not long ago. That had an android too. But in that case he was well aware of the fact that he was a machine and the story was in the humans perspective. So it was nice to see a premise where the android didn't know she was anything but a human.

I am a huge fan of Sci-Fi and thrillers and it was great that this book was a combination of the two. The one thing I'd complain about was the insta love between Hunter and Mila. I understand that he was teh only one who did not freak out once he saw her arm when it broke. But come on. My Spidey senses were tingling when he wasn't in the least bit serious.

What I would have loved to see was the relationship between Mila and her mother. I wanted to know the motivation behind why Nicole took Mila away from the Compound. Well I guess I'll just have to wait for the sequel. I really enjoyed this book. I would rate it 4/5.

And here is my update for the Debut -A- Thon. I have started on Pivot Point by Kasie West. This seems like an interesting read. I am so looking forward to it.

Challenge 2: The Day 2 Challenge is being hosted by Laura .  The challenge is as follows: We need to pair a song with the book that we are reading. It's the Pair that Debut challenge.

I just finished Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza. And the song I thought of, especially during the action packed parts was The Pretender by Foo Fighters. The parts that resonated with the books story were,

"In time or so I'm told
I'm just another soul for sale... oh, well"

"Keep you in the dark
You know they all pretend
Keep you in the dark
And so it all began"

"I'm the voice inside your head
You refuse to hear
I'm the face that you have to face
Mirrored in your stare
I'm what's left, I'm what's right
I'm the enemy
I'm the hand that will take you down
Bring you to your knees"

Another song that partly matches what I felt when I read the book was Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) by Emily Browning (the Sucker Punch version).

"Some of them want to use you
Some of them want to get used by you
Some of them want to abuse you
Some of them want to be abused

I'm gonna use you and abuse you
I'm gonna know what's inside
Gonna use you and abuse you
I'm gonna know what's inside you"

I have just started Pivot Point so I am yet to think of a song for the book. I will post one once I am well in to the  book.

Challenge 4:

I could not figure out the first 3 but I did figure out the last 2.
4. The Rules of Disappearing - Ashley Elston
5. Pretty Girl 13 - Liz Coley


Thursday : Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza
Pages read: Completed
Books read: 1
Total # of books read: 1

Friday : Pivot Point by Kasie West
Pages read: 30
Books read: 1
Total # of books read: 1

Pages read: 140
Books read: 1
Total # of books read: 1

Pages read: 
Books read: 2
Total # of books read: 2

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Debut-A-Thon: Challenge #1

Amber has set up a challenge for all those participating in the Debut -A- Thon. It is as folows:

Unscramble these titles, and win £10 to spend on Book Depository! Easy! So here is my attempt
1. IIDFEOFYUNM (4 words) - If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch
2. TAREDEL (1 word) - Altered by Jennifer Rush
3. TPNPOOITIV (2 words) - Pivot Point by Kasie West
4. HCITAGRL (1 word) - Arclight by Josin L. McQuein
5. NPOSIO (1 word) - Poison by Bridget Zinn
6. TSIPDENLER (1 word) - Splintered by A G Howard
7. ITSEHTELE (2 words) - The Elites by Natasha Ngan

Thursday update:
Currently Reading : Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza
Pages Read : 120

Debut -A- Thon Thursday Update 1

Hello All. So I finally started the Debut -A- Thon at midnight today.

Currently Reading:
Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza
Pages Read : 120

Here's to hoping I get this done today. I cannot read the book while I am at work but I'm planning on finishing another 100 pages during the commute home. This is probably one of the few times I'll appreciate traffic :)

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Reading Challenge

OK. Maybe I am taking on too much. But I will be joining the Dystopian Reading Challenge being hosted by Blog of Erised. This is not a 4 - Day challenge like the Debut -A- Thon but will last the whole year (what is left of it anyway.

I will aim to finish at least 6 books in the dystopian genre ( Level 1 - Recruit). I have not come up with a list as of yet, but there is still time to do so.

Book Reviews

Sorry I've been away for so long. My days at the office suddenly became quite hectic, so I've not had the time to even open the blog. But fear not!! I have been able to read quite a few books. I have recently finished reading - The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey, The Surgeon & The Apprentice by Tess Gerritsen, Amnesia Moon by Johnathan Lethem, The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu and The Mad Scientist's Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clark.

I had already started on a review of The 5th Wave but had not been able to post it up on the blog. I will do so now and also write what I think of the other books (though the review might not be as elaborate as the one for The 5th Wave)

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

The book had me in its sights the minute I saw that the description said it was a little like Ender's Game. I am also a sucker for a good post-apocalyptic, dystopian novel. This was a good book. I am looking forward to the sequel in the series. This is why I read trilogies and quadrilogies or any series for that matter, when they are already done or almost done. Then I do not have that agonizing wait ahead of me waiting for the end of the book and closure. Or at least I hope for closure, sometimes the quality of the story in the books slips, by the time the end is near. But one can always hope right? And that is basically the theme of every post-apocalyptic book for me - Hope.

Movies have conditioned us to think that when aliens finally make first contact, then it will either be to befriend us or to destroy us for our planets resources or to enslave us. This book falls in the "they've come to annihilate us" category. We also think (probably because of our egos and Star Trek) that the aliens will resemble us, in some basic way. Like them being bipeds and having a humanoid form. This book counters those beliefs by making the aliens that attack earth into beings of pure consciousness.

The strategy used by the Others, as Cassie calls them, is, I have to say genius. First they put the people on edge by showing themselves and not doing anything for almost 10 days. Then they knock out everything electronic using an EMP blast. This was the 1st wave. The 2nd wave was literally a wave in the forms of tsunamis and the 3rd wave was a plague that leads to the death of nearly 7 billion people. The 4th wave are the silencers. The Others in the guise of humans. So that humans couldn't trust anyone.

This book had good characters. Most of the book was in Cassie's POV. I like that she was not a born Bad-Ass. Before the arrival she was a normal teenager with a crush on a classmate (Ben Parish). She was pushed to the edge when she lost her mother to the plague, seeing her father killed and her little brother taken from her.

In the beginning of the book we find her just surviving. Her only goal - to stay alive to see the next day. She has learnt not to trust anyone. And because of this, when she meets another person after a long while, she does not trust him, even when he is in need. This pushes her over the edge and finding Sammy becomes her lifeline.

Then she meets Evan Walker. Who rescues her when she is freezing to death after being shot in the leg. he nurses her back to life and maybe that is why she does not immediately mistrust him. It is this very human need in her that makes her want to trust him that I love best. This has been written very well. Even when she finds out that he is one of the Others she still wants to trust him. This is what the Others saw as a weakness. But is also humanity's greatest strength along with the ability to love.  

Moving on to the topic of the Others I love that they did not make them up to be some kind of reptilian like life form. Instead they are pure consciousness. Also the conflict between their own ranks where one faction pushes for total annihilation of the human race the other pushes for coexistence. Also the Others, while on Earth conquering the human race, have to be in human form. They have absorbed their human counterparts. Not completely replaced them. It is this dichotomy that Evan Walker embodies. While the majority of the Others find humans repulsive or not deserving of earth, then there is Eva Walker. He feels a sense of liberation in his human body. He seems more in tune with his human side. This is what makes it so difficult for him. He has his loyalty towards his own kind and also the love the feels towards a girl   whose race him and his kind are determined to kill. I lie that the author didn't make him go cold turkey towards killing just because he fell  in love with Cassie. He just spared her and kept on fulfilling his mission of being a Silencer. I appreciate that the author does not take us readers to be dumb and did not bring about a drastic change in either personalities, be it Cassie or Evan. It was his love for her and also his wish to be rid of the duality within him that he does what he does at Camp Haven. 

Camp Haven being compared to Battle School from Ender's Saga might be a bit of a stretch. It is similar yes. But Battle School  was far more dangerous in my opinion. There all the adults were against you (at least that is what the kids felt). Here  at Camp Haven the kids kinda felt secure with their handlers/guardians. 

All in all this was a good read. I guess I went off on a wide tangent with this review. It has become more of a rant. Well maybe you can think of it as a rant about The 5th Wave instead of a review per se. Now that its been a few days since I finished the book I'd rate it a 3.8 (leaning towards 4).

The Surgeon & The Apprentice by Tess Gerritsen 

Let me just start off by saying that I love the Rizzoli & Isles TV series. I really enjoy the dynamics between the 2 main leads. Having said that, it was really disappointing to me that the books did not do for me, what the TV series did. I understand that the TV series is an adaptation and not a carbon copy of the book. But I would not have enjoyed the books even if I had not seen the series on TV. The books just did not capture my continued interest. Rizzoli was such a drag. She hated herself, her family, her colleagues (or at least she did not trust them). She did not even have one friend. I'm sorry to say this but this could be because of her attitude. I mean she doesn't always have to act so tough. She acted like being a woman was the worst thing that could happen to her. She could've leveraged the fact that she was a woman quite a few times, but she didn't do that. Not all female cops have to be rigid as she is. She just went on and on about how it is so difficult to be in the police force. I mean I'm sure it is but all she does is whine about it.
The author has not leveraged the rapport/friendship that could be portrayed between Jane and Maura at all. Maybe that happens in the latter books. I'm still debating whether or not I'll read the rest of the series. I rate both the books 2/5.

Amnesia Moon by Johnathan Lethem

I was going through the posts over at the Book Smugglers when I read about The Angry Robot Publishers. I went to their site and was really psyched about the books showcased there. I read a few blurbs of the books on the site and I was very excited about them. Amnesia Moon was one of them.

I did not know what to expect from this book. The description sounded different and intriguing. I still do not know what to make of the book after having finished reading it. If a book is to be classified as good if it makes you keep coming back for more, then this is a good book. But I kept wanting to go back to the book because I could not understand what was going on in the book. It was weird. I can't say if it was a good/bad weird. I think I liked it. It was a plotline with which a lot more could have been done. A lot more could've been done with the concept of the dream sharing. If this was where the story was going this could've been made in to a novella instead of a Novel. Maybe I just didn't get the book (not just maybe, I just didn't understand a lot of the book). But in my opinion it was still a better read than the first 2 installments of the Rizzoli and Isles series. So this was a 2.5/5 for me

The Mad Scientist's Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clark

I really liked this book. A lot of people might say this book reminded them of The Bicentennial Man with Robin Williams. But that is not completely accurate. Here Finn, the android, is not looking to 'be' human. He is at peace with the fact that he is a machine. The similarity between this book and Bicentennial Man is that Finn falls in love with Cat & in this book she loves him back. To me this story was reminescent of a small part in teh Asimov book, I, Robot, where a little girl has a robot playmate/nanny. 

This book is not about the fighting for the rights about robots . It is a part of the story but not the core of the story. This is basically a love story in which one of the lovers happens to be an android. And through this book, Cassandra makes us think what being a human really is. I am not saying there was a revelation at the end as to what constitutes humanity. I liked it that it made me think about it, if you know what I mean. It was also made me think of what it would take to love someone for being all that they are and not just what we want to love in a person.

I enjoyed the journey that Cat took in her life. It was a beautiful journey with all the ups & downs. This is the sort of book that you love more once you are finished with it. I really loved this book. I rate it 4.2/5.

The Lives Of Tao by Wesley Chu

Let us get the obvious out of the way. The 5th Wave has a similar setting of an alien being inserted in to the human consciousness. I concede that. But in the case of The Lives of Tao, te alien and the human host co-exist. I mean how great is that? 

This book was not written like a typical Sci - Fi book. It had more of a spy thriller feel for me, that reminded me of the Bourne trilogy. 

Tao liked to call the relationship between him and his host as symbiotic but in my opinion the human did not really have much of a say. He/she had to take part in a war that has been raging for nigh on 500 years between entities that have been stranded on earth for the past 65 million years. There are of course advantages. The human host gets the benefit of all the knowledge accumulated over the lifetime of the alien being - be it Prophus or Genjix.

The writing in this book is quite fast paced. The Prophus who are said to be on te side of humans don't come out smelling of roses in this conflict. But that is the necessity of war. I am unsure of whether this book is a stand alone or a part of a series. I hope it is a series. If it isn't then the ending sucked for me. I would rate this book a 3.7/5.