Book news, Book reviews

Rapid Reviews | Edition #1

Reviews are a pain to write and since I myself don’t particularly like reading reviews, I doubt most of you do too. So, I’m here to give you the lowdown on every book I read this month in a few sentences.

Quiet by Susan Cain

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A non-fiction novel commenting upon the art of introversion. If you’re obssessed with personality types this book is right up your alley. It challenges your preconceived notions about introverts and demonstrates how introversion thrives in business, romantic and leadership settings.

Magnus Chase and the Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan

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I’m at a point in my life where I believe you can never go wrong with a Rick Riordan novel. This installment in the series leaned more towards the heavier side. The novel explores sexuality and morals. I even did a post listing all the things I loved about it!

Gemina by Amie Kauffman & Jay Kristoff

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The Illuminae series just keeps getting better. Without giving away any spoilers, this book just mind-fucked everyone I bet. It’s riveting, it’s funny, it’s totally outside of this world (get it?)

The Secret History by Donna Tart

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I went into this book expecting it to be about cults and rituals and all things eerie. I was disappointed to find that it is quite a mundane novel. While parts of it are captivating, I found myself drifting off more than a few times.

Let me know if you’ve read any of these books and whether you like the idea of rapid reviews!

Book reviews

10 Things I Love About Magnus Chase And The Hammer Of Thor

The second installment in the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series by Rick Riordan was even better than the first one. I came up with ten reasons as to why this book and series is a must read for all young adults out there.

It addresses sexuality

When a gender fluid character was introduced in the novel I absolutely loved it. This is the first YA novel I’ve read which openly discusses gender fluidity and the stereotypes associated with that. What is even more incredible is that Magnus, our protagonist, is attracted to this said person which goes to show that you can love whoever you want to love.

It addresses religion

This was also one of the first novels which openly discusses Islam and its practices. The novel just helps to open people’s minds and I think that that is important in today’s society.

It’s adventurous

Moving on from the heavy topics. The novel is FUN. You get to visit all these different worlds and the characters always get themselves into these weird scenarios which have such creative solutions.

It has diversity

This novel and I believe all of Rick Riordan’s novels introduce the reader to such a large group of diverse people. We have social outcasts, smart people, homeless people, criminals, fashionistas, you name it.

It addressees homelessness

At the begin of the series Magnus is a homeless guy which means that for the rest of the series we hear a lot about Magnus’ experience being homeless and what it feels like. Given that Rick Riordan has a younger dynamic to cater to, I believe it’s important children are bought up learning about the topic of homelessness.

It’s educational

Not only are the readers learning all these life lessons. We also get to learn sign language because one of the characters is deaf and of course we learn about Norse Mythology

It’s emotional

Not going to elaborate on this one because feels

It’s funny

As with all of Rick Riordan’s novels, this one is peppered with dad humour and funky jokes that make it quite entertaining

It’s captivating

I found it very hard to pull myself away from reading and doing something else because every chapter had me turning the pages.

It ends on a cliff hanger

As usual. But this is an exciting cliff hanger because Magnus is about to meet one of my favourite characters in the next installment!

Book reviews

Book Review | PS I Still Love You

Jenny Han’s sequel to To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before takes you on an equally thrilling journey involving boys, baking and a whole lot of emotions.

The story centers around Lara Jean and her relationship with her new boyfriend Peter. I admired that the novel addressed cyber bullying and the effects it has on a personal level but also the effect it has on the community. When it comes to emotions, Jenny Han is the Queen, oftentimes I found myself sighing at just how accurately she described adolescent love from a male and female perspective.

The novel does not get weighed down by the emotions in it though. Han finds an admirable balance by involving baking (I might try one of her recipes on here oo), fashion and Lara Jean’s relationship with her sisters. She also focuses on some heavier topics of single parenting and growing up without a mother. The novel is a healthy blend of all things life.

Something I haven’t come across often in young adult novels is elderly people. Especially elderly people having a perspective or any say in the novel. This novel depicted young love from the perspective of the elderly who are long past it yet they still yearn for their days. It added quite a unique element to the novel. Sometimes the elderly need a little spotlight too.

From caramel cakes to dreamy boys and retirement homes, Jenny Han writes a light yet thought provoking novel that is perfect to read any time of the year.

Rating

4

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Book reviews

Book Review | Holding Up The Universe

Jennifer Niven, once again, turns a simple love story into a beautiful life lesson that readers will be sure to remember. To be perfectly honest, I am still recovering from reading All the Bright Places which I read many months ago. Holding up the Universe similarly tells the story from the dual perspectives of a boy and a girl who experience different hardships in the same circumstances.

We have Jack Masselin who is the “cool guy” at school and from the outside it seems like Jack has it all together but his family is falling apart and he has this rare disorder which inhibits him from recognising faces. On the other hand there is Libby who is labeled America’s Fattest Teen and along with her weight she also has to constantly deal with the loss of her mother. When Jack and Libby meet, the reader is taken on a journey where two teenagers try to tackle the weight the universe bestows upon them.

The thing I love most about Jennifer’s novels is that she integrates her own life experiences into her stories. This enables the reader to form a connection with the author and hence, you’re more susceptible to agree with the message the novel is sending. While this novel was not as emotionally scarring as All the Bright Places, it was just as powerful.

Libby’s weight issues and following her development in the novel from being a homebound girl to this confident young woman encourages all insecure chickens out there to just be comfortable in the skin you’re given. Through work of fiction, Jennifer has managed to spread a positive message which I’m sure resonates with a lot of teenagers. Not only that, by integrating diversity in race, gender, weight etc. the reader is challenged to break stereotypes.

The novel also raises awareness about face-blindness which I had no idea about before I read this book. I absolutely love the fact that apart from life lessons you’re also learning science in this novel. You’re learning how to speak out if you have a problem and about the effects of cancer and loss on a person.

Instead of writing a typical boy-girl romance and leaving it at that, Jennifer delves deeper into the issues that continue to haunt young people in today’s society.

Rating

5

Book reviews

Top 5 Quotes from Milk & Honey

Milk & Honey is this incredible book filled with Rupi Kaur’s life journeys and it has some of the most powerful quotes which I’d like to share with you! Happy Blogmas Day Four!

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With incredibly beautiful illustrations and lilting words, Rupi Kaur’s Milk & Honey is definitely worth a read!

Book reviews

Book Review | Cloudstreet

It is not often I come across a novel that captures the culture of Australia and the mundane-ness of daily life and completely turns it into an exhilarating adventure. Full of emotions, mystery and a hint of the supernatural, Cloudstreet is definitely worth a unique read.

I cannot believe it took me this long to read a Tim Winton book. I’d always heard about his uniqye style of writing and how he excels at depicting Australia but it wasn’t until my bestie Faith @Fangirlworld gave this book to me as a present that I experienced the goodness myself.

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Set towards the end of World War II Cloudstreet explores the lives of two families, the Lambs and the Pickles, who inhabit a huge, potentially haunted, house in Western Australia. The story spans over two decades and captures the lives of the inhabitants, their coming of age journeys and their daily perils growing up amidst poverty and war.

Tim Winton has this almost poetic way of writing where he could describe even the most mundane things like going fishing in the most eloquent manner. While the story is written in third person. Winton seamlessly taps into the emotional struggle of the main characters and by the end you’re truly attached. I found Cloudstreet to be a truly engaging read and something that was hard to put down.

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After finishing the novel, you’re left with this feeling of wonder as to what happened to the characters in the end. The novel has this memorable quality to it which is hard to come by these days. Ingrained in the novel are moments where you’re questioning whether what we see in the novel is really reality or not. There is this supernatural element to it, a sort of hauntedness that is left open to interpretation.

Written in an extremely unique and raw manner Tim Winton perfectly captures the spirit of Australia and its people.

Rating

4

New blog posts are going up ever second day in November and every single day in December!

Book reviews

Book Review | Wuthering Heights

Title: Wuthering Heights

Author: Emily Bronte

Genre: Classics

Synopsis 348914Published a year before her death at the age of thirty, Emily Brontë’s only novel is  set in the wild, bleak Yorkshire Moors. Depicting the relationship of Cathy and Heathcliff, Wuthering Heights creates a world of its own, conceived with an instinct for poetry and for the dark depths of human psychology.

 

Not gonna lie, it took me a while to finish this book, partly because of the book it is and partly because of the workload I’m under.

I have always appreciated the talent the Bronte sisters possess and Emily was no exception. Wuthering Heights is written in this purely colloquial manner that is unique to its writer. Some passages just left me swimming in a sea of beautifully written poetry oh my.

Bronte also presents a very compelling tale spanning generations. It’s intriguing to see characters develop not just in age but also how their principles change. It’s interesting to see how one person’s choices can affect the lives of generations to come. The novel is basically characters being miserable, family feuds, and a unique landscape.

What I found lacking was justification. I mean Heathcliff is presented as this purely evil human being who has feelings for no one but Cathy, yet I find it difficult to grasp that he is a just pure evil without some sort of adversary having caused this everlasting bitterness inside him. The novel would also become dull at some points due to not much happening in the characters’ lives etc. However, for the most part it was quite an adventurous read.

Rating

3

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Book reviews

Book Review | The Hounded

Title: The Hounded

Author: Simon Butters

Genre: YA Contemporary

Source: Publisher (Wakefield Press)

Synopsis: 30370600On his fifteenth birthday, Monty is at rock bottom. Ignored by his parents, bullied at school, and with a brain that’s prone to going walkabout, he’s all by himself.

Until he meets the black dog for the first time.

It’s just like any other dog, except that only Monty can see it. And it talks. And Monty’s not sure whether it’s a friend – or a foe.

The black dog gets him talking to pretty, popular Eliza Robertson for the first time. It takes him to places he’s never been.

Eventually it will take Monty, and the people around him, to the very edge.

The Hounded is a novel that explicitly tackles contemporary social issues and makes it relevant by narrating these issues from the perspective of an everyday Australian teenager’s perspective.

I was most impressed by the way the novel was written. Being the author’s first published novel I believe Simon did a very solid job of creating an engaging and fluent narrative. Monty, the protagonist, has this unique voice that is consistent throughout the whole novel.

As for the plot I believe it was an interesting story however, at times it felt like the author was trying to pack in too much at once. I mean it’s amazing to write so openly about suicide and mental illness and cyber bullying but it felt like each of these issues was never completely in the spotlight because there was so much other stuff going on as well. There were also a lot of circumstantial events in the novel as in there wasn’t any build up to that event, they just appeared and I don’t know how I feel about that. At the end of the day, it was an honest story, there was no over dramatization or anything.

The Dog was a very interesting metaphor. I’ve rarely come across creative pieces of work where there is such a solid metaphor for mental illness or suicide. The Dog makes you think and I like that. A lot of the things in the novel were left open to interpretation so as not to overload the reader but also so the reader had something to ponder over.

Rating

4

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Book reviews

Book Review | The Last Star

Title: The Last Star

Series: The 5th Wave

Author: Rick Yancey

Genre: YA Science Fiction

Synopsis 16131489The enemy is Other. The enemy is us.

They’re down here, they’re up there, they’re nowhere. They want the Earth, they want us to have it. They came to wipe us out, they came to save us.

But beneath these riddles lies one truth: Cassie has been betrayed. So has Ringer. Zombie. Nugget. And all 7.5 billion people who used to live on our planet. Betrayed first by the Others, and now by ourselves.

In these last days, Earth’s remaining survivors will need to decide what’s more important: saving themselves…or saving what makes us human

You have no idea how much I have been anticipating this novel ever since the beginning of time, well ever since I finished the prequel. Did it live up to the hype? Ehhh..

I’ll start with the things I didn’t like so we can finish on a good note. The novel was majorly made up of characters running around everywhere and doing all these crazy mission-impossible things. It was chaos. Oftentimes, I didn’t really see the point in focusing so much of the novel on the action you know?

As a consequence of creating an action based novel, the characters weren’t given time to grow, I mean yeah I guess they’ve had two novels before to grow and all but in this novel (bit of a spoiler) we see a 7 year old shoot someone’s brains out, a 7 year old who’s forgotten his alphabet. I mean can we talk about the psychology of that? I absolutely adored the prequels because of how psychologically focused they were.

Also, the main burning question of the novel as to why the aliens decided to conquer Earth is still left a bit ambiguous, which is good in a way but I’d rather not fill the blanks myself.

In saying all that, the novel definitely had the BEST shock factor, I absolutely could not put it down and it was gore and emotion and at one point it went all Interstellar. The writing as I said before was pretty action packed but there were hints of the poetic Rick Yancey that I like.

I like how Ringer and Cassie overcame their differences in the end.

I’m still trying to come to terms with the ending but I guess what happens happens right?

Rating

4

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Book reviews

Book Review | The Raven King

Title: The Raven King

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Series: The Raven Cycle #4

Genre: YA Fantasy

Synopsis 17378527

For years, Gansey has been on a quest to find a lost king. One by one, he’s drawn others into this quest: Ronan, who steals from dreams; Adam, whose life is no longer his own; Noah, whose life is no longer a lie; and Blue, who loves Gansey… and is certain she is destined to kill him.

Now the endgame has begun. Dreams and nightmares are converging. Love and loss are inseparable. And the quest refuses to be pinned to a path.

I have a lot of mixed feelings about this novel. In a way there was a sense of finality and completion to the whole thing and I felt satisfied finishing it but there were a lot of things that displeased me.

The book seemed to deviate from its purpose I feel like, I mean I have to be vague here because spoilers but this whole new agenda or problem was introduced and it’s like the last three novels almost didn’t happen.

There was a certain depth lacking to the book I feel like, while some parts were written so beautifully and you got caught up in the euphoria, a majority of the novels I feel like wasted words on describing things and events that really didn’t require so much detailing in my opinion. I’ve always liked Stifvater’s writing because of the adrenaline and thrill that comes with it and that was lacking here.

Character development didn’t seem to be the central focus of this novel either, I mean we saw the right characters getting with the right characters but that’s it. The book was highly focused on plot and telling a story. There were a lot more supernatural elements almost brimming on the edge of being a horror story.

In a lot of ways that’s all this book was, a fairy tale story with an end that everyone wanted

Rating

3

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