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!

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How To Write a Good Review

I recently did a post on why I hate reading reviews so I thought it might be a good idea to do a follow-up post about what makes a good, attention drawing review and how you can go about writing one.

Of course I am no expert and my reviews are no where near perfect, I just think, according to me, a review must have these key elements to make it stand out.

Format:

  • Make sure your post has factual information about the book/film/product you’re reviewing and that it is easy to spot like so:

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  • A clear and logical structure will make sure your opinion gets across and it’s easy for the reader to follow.
  • Avoid long paragraphs as people generally tend to skim over those
  • Experiment with different ways of presenting information such as using lists or dot points instead of conventional paragraphs.

Writing:

  • Make sure your writing is coherent and easy to follow 
  • A well written review will always ensure your opinion is easy to understand
  • Avoid using long, hefty, words, the less pretentious the review is, the more people will want to come back and read your own unique voice
  • Good grammar and punctuation mean less headaches and more visitors- Read over your review at least once to make sure there are no typos

Visuals:

  • Add relevant pictures such as the cover of the book or a scene from a film to avoid your review from looking dull
  • Avoid overloading your post with GIFs- this will mean your words get lost in the GIFs
  • Experiment with different fonts, colours, things as simple as bold and italics to get your point across while keeping the post interesting.

My rock bottom advice while writing reviews would be to keep it minimalistic while making sure you’re saying everything you want to say. Reviews are a form of expression so of course you’re not bound by any rules but I just thought a post like this might help someone looking for a guideline as to how to write a review!

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Discussion

5 Reasons I Hate Reading Reviews

The irony ins’t lost on me considering this blog is primarily for reviewing books. but there is just something about book reviews and film reviews that repeals me and I’ve managed to condense this feeling into five justifiable reasons.

  1. Spoilers

This is my number one fear when it comes to reading reviews. Although many writers do specify if the post is going to have spoilers, my mind always remains skeptical.

what if there are spoilers?

what if the writer hasn’t been discreet enough?

Would I still want to read the book after it’s ruined for me?

I know some people would go ahead with reading a book regardless but I’d rather be safe than sorry.

         2. Influence

Now, reviews generally provide an opinion right? my overly absurd brain is always under the threat that if I read a review of a book that I’m eagerly awaiting to read then I won’t go into the book with a fresh mind, I’ll be influenced by the opinions of the person who wrote the review. Now this has sometimes worked in my favour as after reading a review I picked up things in the book I wouldn’t normally have.

Likewise, if i read a review after I’ve read a book and formed my own opinions it can give me another perspective but it also makes me doubt my understanding of the book.

          3. Boredom

Okay let’s be brutally honest here. If I typed in “Mockingjay Part 2 review” in Google how many infinite number of results will pop up?

And you know what? they’re all gonna be the same, Long paragraphs or overloaded with GIFs and there is nothing original about the formatting of a review. I usually skim over review posts. YOU don’t even fully read my reviews and I know it and I understand. It can get so boring sometimes.

           4. Repetition

This is following along with the boredom. Reviews are repetitive. Especially when it comes to a super famous book that has been hyped about forever. Unless you can bring a completely unique perspective and take on the book, I guarantee you 99% of the reviews will look the same. Just to clarify, with “unique perspective” I don’t mean slandering the book just to stand out. Honest opinions are still valued people.

            5. Reviews are rarely helpful

When I’m looking for a new book to read , which is rarely a case these days considering I have no time. but anyways, when looking for a new read or recommendations I head to Goodreads and check out their ratings or I ask around my friends. What I’m getting at is, I rarely make a judgement of whether to buy a book or not based on a review I’ve read. And I guess part of it is because I’m aware a review is just one slice of opinion which it’s up to me whether to take into consideration or not.

Of Course I do realise all the upsides to reviews which is why I continue to write them but I just believed this unpopular opinion had to be discussed. I’d love to hear your point of view on this matter so let’s keep the discussion going in the comments.

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Discussion

Reviews Vs Essays

Ello Ello!

As you may or may not be aware I was reading The Great Gatsby for school and after dragging the reading process for ridiculously long comes the tedious task of writing an analytical essay for assessment.

I mean I love analysing. I’d pick analysing over creative writing any day.

In this novel’s case though, the question I decided to write my essay on was arguing the case of whether Gatsby deserves to be called a hero. I was like “great I can see both sides to the story so I can present my essay from both perspectives”

My teacher was like nuh-uh you pick ONE side and you base your essay on that.

That got me thinking how much better it would be if only I could write a review instead of an essay.

And this post was born! Let’s discuss the pros and the cons and the tacos of Reviews Vs Essays!

1. Self expression

Reviews: If I hated a book I can rant about it, if I loved a book I can rave about it, If i have mixed feelings I can take both sides. With reviews I can pour my heart and soul and atomic matter into my piece of writing

Essays: I have to make up my mind about the book like completely. And the lack of personal pronouns and fancy sixteen-alphabet words gives the piece a detached essence. I felt like a robot yesterday writing my Gatsby essay cuz detachment.

2. The Vibe

Reviews: Some people think the reviews I write on the blog sound all posh and English-y but trust me oftentimes I aim to be casual and laid back like I’m having a chat to you about the book which is how I like it.

Essays: Here’s the deal, instead of saying “Gatsby was a heck of a man” I have to say “Gatsby’s character development evoked feelings of intrigue in the reader” . Honestly, why does everything need to be glorified and polished ugh sometimes I’d just like to say it like it is.

4. The Connection

Reviews: One of my favourite things about reviews is that I can connect to my audience, going back to the first point I just feel like it gives me the most freedom of expression

Essays: Every single molecule has to be broken down, you have to analyse the life out of the book until there is nothing but cardboard and ink . No feeling, no connection just a physical mass of paper. I’m never reading Gatsby again, sorry but just no.

Yes I know this post was really biased towards  reviews (I wonder why).  But some people like creating beautiful essays and go you if you’re that person. I guess they’re both different mediums and each is well in its own place.

hat do you think? Review or Essays?

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Book reviews

Book Review: Blue Lily, Lily Blue

Author: Maggie Stiefvater2b58e-bluelily

Genre: Fantasy

Series: The Raven Cycle #3

Pages: 391

Synopsis:

There is danger in dreaming. But there is even more danger in waking up.

Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs.

The trick with found things though, is how easily they can be lost.

Friends can betray.
Mothers can disappear.
Visions can mislead.
Certainties can unravel.

Finally a book review!

I’ve been meaning to read this book since it came out earlier because I love love loved the previous two books in The Raven Cycle series!

Unfortunately this book turned out to be nothing like the others.

To begin with the plot felt slow and like it was dragging on forever. You have to understand that the previous books are fast paced and action packed therefore this paled in comparison. This is supposedly going to be a quartet but in my opinion it should be a trilogy because then it would be much better paced.

In saying that there was the ever present character growth. The forbidden romance between our protagonists Gansey and Blue was so powerful. The thing is if Blue kisses her true love he will die so she can’t kiss Gansey and it is SO AGONISING. Like they would hold hands and my feels will go cray.

There are also Adam and Ronan, Gansey’s friends. I loved how Adam came to terms with himself because his self doubt was really starting to irritate me. But by the end of the book he was confident and had this powerful presence. Also, for people who’ve read the book, does anyone else want Ronan and Adam to happen like really badly, like right NOW. Cuz I do.

The book was surrounded around the concept of mirrors and I found this confusing because the author only briefly explained it and even then I didn’t know how that related to the greater plot. Also, I felt very detached while reading, I remember in the prequel The Dream Thieves I was so invested in the characters but in this one when someone died (no spoiler) I didn’t feel anything.

Honestly, Blue Lily, Lily Blue was all over the place and I just have so many questions that will hopefully be answered in the final installment. Overall, it just didn’t have that umph factor that I usually get reading about The Raven Boys.

Rating

3

 

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Cress- Review

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By: Marissa Meyer

Series: The Lunar Chronicles #3

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction

Pages: 550 pages

Summary:

Rapunzel’s tower is a satellite. She can’t let down her hair—or her guard. 

In this third book in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, who has been trapped on a satellite since childhood with only her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker—unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing stop her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only ones who can.

Note: This review is spoiler free and is intended for people who haven’t read Cress or The Lunar Chronicles yet. Sorry if the summary gave too much away.

Ok One important thing before I start. If you haven’t read this series or this book I highly recommend it as it is perfection I am not even exaggerating!

As you may have guessed the book is a fairy tale re telling of Rapunzel. The first book Cinder is based on Cinderella and is about a cyborg mechanic called Cinder who happens to be our main character. The second book Scarlet tells the story of Little Red Riding Hood and then there is Cress. These are companion novels so Cinder and Scarlet the previously mentioned characters do appear throughout Cress.

Characters

To begin with let us discuss the characters. I found the main character Cress to be adorable yet irritating at times. Her emotions compliment the story considerably well however her actions are questionable. Cress’ reactions to certain things would have annoyed me if a person in reality were to react the same way however her responses were justifiable because of her situation and what she has been through in life. The romance between Cress and her love interest are adorable to say the least and towards the start of the book I wished everything would work out but I realized later on that people just don’t fall in love like that it comes through time and the realness of their situation is what made it so perfect and I could totally relate to Cress.

I specifically enjoyed Cinder’s character development as she battled to come to terms with who she really was. How Cinder went through different emotions such as doubting herself or believing that she could make a change just felt so real ,which is one of the many things which made this book into a phenomena.

The characters in this book all have a range of different personalities and traits but at the same time they seem to fit together and complement each other making it so much better

 Plot

I personally found that it was highly difficult to stop reading Cress. The plot was remarkably gripping and it would just make me eager to keep reading more and more to find out what was going to happen next. It was a real page turner. The pacing of the book was slow at times which wasn’t such a bad thing as it suited the setting that the characters were placed in.

This book spans across several different POVs and settings so one moment I was in a desert and another I was on the moon and the world building in this book is done so tremendously well oh!  Even after 3 books I can’t get over how beautifully the futuristic world is portrayed in The Lunar Chronicles.

Another thing I found interesting was how everything was so together I mean the story was all over the place and yet there were connections and the author did a great job of not confusing the reader even though I was in so many places over the course of 550 pages.

Writing

Marissa Meyer you genius! The dialogue in this book was fantastic. The conversations felt realistic and there was humour in them making Cress a fun entertaining read. I especially loved the romantic scenes in the book as I was honestly giggling the whole time and falling more in love with this book.

In conclusion, if you haven’t read Cress or the Lunar Chronicles you are missing out a great deal! These books are so fun and I would recommend them to any young adult/science fiction fan out there.

Rating:

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A Game Of Thrones- Review

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By: George R.R.Martin

Series: A Song Of Ice and Fire

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 780

To be honest I’ve never been much of a fantasy reader. For some reason the fantasy genre never interested me but I decided to watch the Game of Thrones television series to decide if reading the series would be worth it. After reading this book I have new found respect for the fantasy genre and I just can’t wait to dive into the next book in the series!

Note: I do recommend watching the first couple of episodes of the television series before reading the book as it sets the scene and you get a better understanding. However, if you don;t like being spoiled then by all means go ahead and start reading first!

Summary: Summers span decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun.
As Warden of the north, Lord Eddard Stark counts it a curse when King Robert bestows on him the office of the Hand. His honour weighs him down at court where a true man does what he will, not what he must and a dead enemy is a thing of beauty.
The old gods have no power in the south, Stark’s family is split and there is treachery at court. Worse, the vengeance-mad heir of the deposed Dragon King has grown to maturity in exile in the Free Cities. He claims the Iron Throne. [Source: Goodreads]

I have mixed feelings towards this book but let us start off on a positive note. My favourite part about the book was the characters. George M creates this wide range of people from the young to the old and from the wicked to the innocent. At The start of the book you are able to categorise the characters into black and white as in these are good people and these are the bad ones but towards the end there are these twists and turns, it is revealed who these people are actually loyal to and when the character’s true nature starts showing this is where the lines start getting blurred and you just can’t differ the good from the bad anymore.

The chapters are narrated by the point of views of a group of people: Catelyn (Lord Eddard’s wife), Arya and Sansa (Lord Eddard’s young daughters), Jon Snow (Lord Eddard’s bastard son), Bran (Lord Eddard’s son), Tyrion Lanister (the Queen’s brother and a dwarf) and Daenerys Targaryen (an exiled princess). I did like the fact that the chapters switched between POV’s however what this book lacked was character development, as a reader I didn’t feel the characters grow which was quite disappointing. The only person in the novel whom I felt became stronger and more confident and who changed in some way was Daenerys and I loved that! Also it was very hard to empathise with the feelings that the characters were feeling such as grief and fear, strong emotions can truly make the difference between a good book and a great book.

My favourite characters from this book would have to be definitely Tyrion Lanister- a dwarf with quite a sharp brain and I love his witty ways of thinking which tend to get him out of trouble a lot, other than that Tyrion was the only likable Lanister. I love how Daenerys Targaryen started off as an exiled princess who got married off to some horse lord and then grew into this confident queen ready to take on an army. There were a lot of names and houses and titles in this book and sometimes it did get overwhelming but it didn’t really lead to confusion as to what was happening so that was ok.

There was a lack of world building in this book which gives me the feeling that if I hadn’t watched the show beforehand I would be VERY confused going into this book. Sometimes the history of how the seven kingdoms came to be was mentioned here and there but it was never quite made clear which made it hard for me to envision things at times.

As to the writing Geroge R.R Martin really does know how to set an adventure. It was an engaging storyline with all the political drama and tension. I especially liked all the surprises as they made reading this book just so much more thrilling however there were these certain points during reading this that it just got so bland that I just wanted to put the book down especially because it’s such a long read. The dialogues in this book were fantastic and very interesting to read most of the time.

Overall, A Game of Thrones by George R.R.Martin was an adventurous read which has made me look at the fantasy genre in a different light and I would definitely recommend it to fantasy lovers or those who are trying to get into fantasy like myself.

Rating:

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Continue reading “A Game Of Thrones- Review”

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Book review- 1984

1984                                                                 5470                                                                                                                              

By: George Orwell

Genre: Dystopia/Utopia, Political fiction, social science fiction

Pages: 335

1984 by George Orwell is undoubtedly a very powerful and well disturbing read. The terrifying world that the book centers around will leave chills down your spine.

Summary: In the year 1984 Winston Smith lives in a world where there is an eternal war under Big Brother: an overly controlling government who sees and controls everything and everyone. Winston finds Big Brother oppressive and decides to rebel by doing things like writing in a journal and being in love with a girl called Julia. 1984 takes you through Winston’s journey of finding his individuality and leaves you really thinking about the world we live in today..

The book is divided into three parts and not much action occurs until we get into part two. Part one was so bland that the first time I read it I decided to give up on the book. Although I am glad I picked it up again because trust me it may be a little hard to get into at first but  once you progress into part two you’ll be hooked! 

One of things that awed me the most about 1984 was the world building. George Orwell creates such a frightening society where you’re constantly been watched and controlled by the government. The concept of “doublethink” blew my mind! the idea of always having to change your beliefs and manipulate your consciousness in order to satisfy Big Brother left a very powerful impact on me. 

The characters were very hard to empathize with. Especially in part one I just couldn’t connect with Winston and later on with Julia also I was not able to link with her feelings. However, towards the end of the book Winston’s character came off so powerful and I felt the pain and the terror and I shared all the frustration with him. I felt like I also started connecting with Winston when we got some of the insights in his past and to know his family along with the relationship he had with his wife. After giving this much thought I have come to the conclusion that maybe the characters were just there as objects to introduce us to this world.

The most terrifying part of the book and also some what my favorite was the realization that the world of 1984 isn’t very different to the world we live in now. I became conscious of this fact while I was reading the excerpts from Goldstein’s book which made me wish there were more excerpts as it made things so much clearer for me. Another powerful yet depressing thing about the book was the motive of the government to make the world into a dull place with no laughter, no art, no freedom to think or create and basically turn its citizens into zombies. 

Overall, 1984 was a rather peculiar read from my perspective. George Orwell is such a convincing writer and his use of language in this book is so strong and thought-provoking which just makes the book all the more amazing. The world building in 1984 and how the author examines it from all aspects along with its feelings of despair make it a very scary yet powerful read. 

Rating:

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