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.