Thursday, 15 January 2015

Slightly Burnt by Payal Dhar


Book Summary : "Sahil was going to say it, no matter what stunt I pulled and then things would be all weird between us, because, you know, I just didn't feel that way about him."

Sahil has been Komal's very best friend since, well, forever. Which is why she doesn't want to hear his confession. But there isn't much she can do to stop him from saying what he has to say. When her brother gets unwittingly tangled in the whole mess that ensues, Komal finds that she is out of her depth and in desperate need of help.

Slightly Burnt is a fresh take on coming of age in India.

My Rating : 4 of 5 stars

My Thoughts : Slightly Burnt is a book that requires quite a nerve to be penned down at the haphazard Indian social milieu, which recently banned the ‘377 IPC law’ that has previously empowered homosexuals to rightfully carry forward, by stating it ‘unconstitutional’. It’s a brave attempt by the author Payel Dhar to showcase and delve up the undercurrent of desires (here a ‘teenager’) who was denied to choose or even show his feelings just because of societal defensiveness. The manner in which the issues had been addressed and dealt with without sentimentalizing or overstepping the boundary by bringing up unnecessary angst, is remarkable.

Regarding the flow of the story, it started with a suspicious way where in a congestive parking area Komal is shocked to hear those ‘three’ words from her childhood best friend, Shahil. Though she didn't actually hear Shahil confess those words ‘I love you’ to her, she pretty much assumed they were meant for her. Nearly half the story later, when we are pretty much exhausted of guessing, the author intelligently revealed it which can be deciphered as ‘I am gay.” From this point onward, the author became careful in threading her plots and grooming her characters, showing their worst and best emotional states.

The writing style was light, infused with humor and occasional in-depth philosophies, and each of the characters shines through the book. The author had wisely chosen her protagonist—a sixteen-years-old teen Komal and put her in situations where she learned her best friend and younger brother are in a relationship. Needless to say, here the author did a fascinating job in layering both the plot and the characters in a very judicious way to outcast the feeling of the protagonist. I adored Komal for accepting her brother and her best friend for who they are, and understanding their relationship in truest sense.

For me, Slightly Burnt was a bittersweet tale of friendship and relationship. I would strongly recommend this book.

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Thursday, 25 December 2014

Amy & Matthew by Cammie McGovern

Book Summery : Amy loves Matthew and he loves her back. This is their story.

Amy is unflinchingly honest about her limitations. Born with cerebral palsy, she can’t walk or talk without help. But trapped inside this uncooperative body lies a brilliant mind and a luminous spirit – a girl capable of truly loving and worthy of being loved in return.

Matthew has his own set of challenges – a mind consumed by unwanted repeated thoughts, obsessive rituals and a crippling fear that he can't explain. But underneath all of the anxiety lies a deep seed of hope for someone to come along who believes in him…

This is the story of Amy and Matthew. It may not be a fairy tale romance or set in an imagined world far from our own. But the love they share is real. And yes, there's magic in it.

My Rating : 4 of 5 stars

My Thoughts : Amy and Matthew...Yaah!! It’s a love story–-a story of two disabled high school students. Whereas Amy is a patient of cerebral palsy, Matthew is suffering from OCD. And it’s very clear that a love story of such central characters is a journey of searing sympathy, and so it is. It’s a story of falling in love for first time. It’s a story of soaring over fears and disabilities.

Though the initial chapters was quite boring and sometime over-stressed but as the story progresses it snags the reader’s attention. Written from a dual point of view, the story is worth sharing positive reviews.

The catchiest sides of the story are the spark in Amy, the wittiness in her dialogues and the courage in self. Sending her loved one in date with another girl just for the sake of him, despite knowing the possibility of losing her boyfriend, is a selfless act.

The story starts with Amy, being a cerebral palsy patient, got her classmate Matthew, along with a few others, as an aid for teaching her the act of socialization that she might need for her college. The honest and straightforward Matthew was never so fond of doing this but applied on request of Amy. I think, initially, Matthew was sort of jealous of Amy’s smartness. The story then accelerates beautifully with different instances of their interactions which smoothly morph from friendship to relationship. With Amy helping Matthew to retrain his mind in getting out of OCD of hand washing (PS: Matthew used to wash is hand for over 30 minutes :-P) by use of regular tasks. A worthy line of Amy in this matter is “Your fear may seem real but the danger is not. You are safe.” – Such a simple and practical advice.
With Matthew, truly speaking I don’t like such a thrower at the starting. But as the plot moves with more and more, unfolding Matthew’s character from every interaction with Amy, I couldn’t help but change my view point. An OCD patient behaves in a way his disease shapes him. That’s the case for Matthew. His possessive behavior like texting all the prom night after Amy left with Sanjay, is quite justified from an high school student who is suffering from OCD.

The story gains its point again on the portrayal of first-love. Along with its possessiveness and confusion there lie the state of extreme excitement and careless anticipation. Personally, I could relate the feelings of being in my first relationship with Amy and Matthew--their behaviour, slowly falling in love with each other; their insecurities are so deep and practical.
But despite all these, it had become a bit too dramatic. Though the author tried her best to fence the feeling and sequence of plots as much practical, but I think Cammie McGovern got either lost or rather baffled in her effort to make the readers sympathize. Still, Amy and Matthew will be in the first row of my bookshelf for rest of the year.

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Sunday, 21 December 2014

Zodiac Universe : A Guest Post by Romina Russell

The absolute best part of penning the ZODIAC series is the chance to invent new worlds. The reason I write is so I can spend more hours of the day in my imagination than anywhere else—and getting to make up new planets with varied customs, governances, technologies, topographies, wild life, and so on, has been indescribably fun.

Besides adding color to the story, the world building is the foundation of the whole series, plot- and character-wise. In the Zodiac universe, just as in our own, people aren’t born into their worlds—they’re born from them. A person’s House affiliation informs much of their identity and development, everything from its geography to its politics and culture—just as on Earth, our nationality, race, socioeconomic status, physical appearance, and so on, determine much about us.

Since the plot of book one is pretty speedy, we don’t get to spend a whole lot of time on the first few Houses we visit, so there’s plenty I couldn’t include about each world. For instance, Gemini has two planets, and the one we don’t get to see (yet) has a fantastical city built deep within its rocky mines. We get to visit Virgo’s main planet, Tethys, but not its twelve minor planetoids, which are so small that their days are twelve hours long instead of twenty-four, so Virgos don’t live there year-round—they only come seasonally to grow grain. On Aries, they have the Everblaze—a huge fire with thirty-foot flames that has never gone out. When Arieans die, their bodies are cremated in the Everblaze so their souls can rise to Helios.

And, of course, we barely get to see House Cancer before it’s destroyed—but it was a beautiful world. The planet was ninety-eight percent water, and from Space it looked like a ball colored every shade of blue, streaked with barely perceptible slices of green. Hundreds of low-lying islands were scattered across the globe, while Cancer’s cities were built on massive pods that floated calmly on the sea’s surface, like giant, half-submerged anemones. The largest structures—buildings, commercial centers, schools—were secured with anchors. The pod cities used to light the horizon with their gleaming, cascading buildings and sun-bleached streets.

Book two’s structure allows us to spend more time on each House we visit, so I’m definitely getting to include more details in the sequel, which has been so much fun. For more ZODIAC world building, check out the descriptions of each House on the site,

About The Author : : Romina Russell (aka Romina Garber) is a Los Angeles based author who originally hails from Buenos Aires, Argentina. As a teen, Romina landed her first writing gig—College She Wrote, a weekly Sunday column for the Miami Herald that was later picked up for national syndication—and she hasn’t stopped writing since. When she’s not working on ZODIAC, Romina can be found producing movie trailers, taking photographs, or daydreaming about buying a new drum set. She is a graduate of Harvard College and a Virgo to the core.

You can find her on twitter

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Blog Tour : The Otherworld Series by Skylar Dorset

Inspiration for the Otherworld

Part of the fun in writing a fantasy novel is that you get to decide the rules that the world needs to live by. So when it came time for me to think about what sort of world I wanted to be my supernatural faerie world in the Otherworld novels, I spent a little bit of time thinking about what would be fun. I was creating a world from scratch, of course I wanted to have some fun! If I wanted to have a talking rat show up, I could! And if I wanted that rat to be one of my characters’ father, well, I could do that, too!

Ben is a traveler, making it easy for him to jump between worlds and also between places within a world, which gave me some opportunity to fool around a little bit more with how vast the Otherworld really is. Ben’s home isn’t near the Seelie Court, so they could be very different places. Likewise, when the Seelies find Ben and Selkie in Boston and Ben is trying to run away from them, he jumps them through a variety of places very quickly, all with different types of weather. It would be fun to try to imagine larger stories about all of those places! It’s something I didn’t get a chance to do just because of the direction of the plot of the story I was telling.

When it came time to imagine what the Seelie Court would be like, I was inspired a lot by faerie lore that I read up on, which I then spun out one step farther. Part of faerie lore was that faeries don’t like broken mirrors. I took that and turned it into the fact that the Seelie Court lacked glass. The island of Avalon, which plays a role in THE BOY WITH THE HIDDEN NAME, is associated with the name “Isle of Glass” in Welsh culture, so I liked the lack of glass even better then, since I enjoyed playing around with the fact that faeries name things the opposite of what they actually mean. This is why I made Mag Mell, traditionally translated to mean “plain of joy,” a canyon instead. And a canyon leading to an evil, terrifying prison, to boot!

It seemed natural to me that the Seelie Court should be a labyrinthine maze, populated by lots of strange guard animals. I liked the idea that the Seelies themselves would be these really lazy, decadent creatures, because I found something more terrifying about the fact that they were so blasé about killing other creatues. And I decided early on to give them an affinity for really bright sunlight, partly because I wanted the frequent cloudy days in Boston to feel ogre-like in comparison, and partly because I knew I was going to journey to the Unseelie Court in THE BOY WITH THE HIDDEN NAME, and I wanted to set up a contrast.

So I’ve already teased two places you get to see in THE BOY WITH THE HIDDEN NAME: the Unseelie Court and Avalon. The other major place I introduce in THE BOY WITH THE HIDDEN NAME is Goblinopolis, which is the underground city where the goblins live. But that’s not in the Otherworld at all. That’s right in the middle of Boston’s subway system!

About The Author : Skylar’s first story was a tale of romantic intrigue involving two feuding factions of squirrels. Think “Romeo & Juliet” but with bushy tails and added espionage. She was seven.

Since that time, Skylar’s head has been filled with lots of characters and lots of drama. She is delighted to be able to share some of it with all of you now, because, honestly, it was getting pretty loud and crowded in there.

Skylar is a born-and-bred New Englander, which is why Boston was a natural setting for her debut novel, THE GIRL WHO NEVER WAS. Skylar shares her home with a cardboard cutout of the Tenth Doctor, lots of Mardi Gras beads from the time she spent living in New Orleans, and a harp she’s supposed to be teaching herself to play. She’d like to get a dog.

Her Website
You can also stalk her on twitter SkylarDorset

SOURCEBOOKS was kind to offer a copy of The Boy with the Hidden Name the second installment of The Otherworld Series The giveaway is opened to US and Canada only.

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Wednesday, 8 October 2014

The Young Elites by Marie Lu

Book Summary : I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt

My Rating : 4 of 5 stars

My Thoughts : The Young Elites, a fine attempt of high fantasy by author Marie Lu, was successful in equal measure in doling out proper execution and satisfaction. Prior to The Young Elites, I have only read the author’s Legend, a dystopian, and was genuinely thrilled about this one.

The Young Elites is sort of book, so dark, that will liquefy your innards and make you wither inside. Told from the perspective of four characters, every one of whom played unique and equally important role in the story, the book delivered an unusual a poignant tale of trust, anger, envy and love.

The main character, Adelina Amouteru, lives in a world hell ravaged by blood plague. Decades ago, the illness caused deaths of many, and the infected children who survived were left with markings and some possessed strange power. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her eyelashes went pale, and a jagged scar marked where her left eye once was. Abused by her cruel father, who believes her to be a malfetto, Adelina accidentally killed him, and was sentenced to be burned on stakes. Rescued by the mysterious leader of Dagger Society—a group of malfettos like her—Adelina was now hell bent on revenge, and destroy all those who wronged her. Adelina was a intimidating creature to behold. Despite all her darkness, bitterness and anger, it was easy for me to relate to Adelina’s character.

Enzo was the former crown prince to the throne, believed to be dead and now a malfetto keeping his identity secret behind his silver mask. He played a vital role in shaping Adelina’s power and future. And, as did Teren Santoro, another dark character with his own secrets, and the leader of the Inquisition Axis. He’s twisted and manipulative, even darker than Adelina herself. His hatred towards malfettos was palpable. He believed them to be abomination, his purpose to destroy them all. He was my favorite character of all. Ah, how can I deny my attraction to damaged souls?

The beginning was a bit slow, but quickly sped up, and I found myself I was instantly swept into the story. I finished the book in exactly two sittings, and can say the writing has improved a great deal from the author's previous series; the prose, the gritty description, the setting, all were expertly done. Not to mention the ending was EVIL, but in a good way. It left my skin crawling with anticipation, and stomach growling for more. I can’t wait until the next in the series is available.

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