#Book Review – Debris by David Miklos

The blurb reads,

“A turn of the screw from magical realism, Debris is a novel where everything is unique, yet repeats itself indefinitely.”

It took me a long time to get wrapped in this book. And once I did, I really understood the meaning of the blurb.

There are 3 to 4 different stories which are going on side by side. And it takes a while for the reader to understand the relevance of the different stories and the connection to the picture as a whole.

The writing is lyrical and looped and it really feels like you’re going in circles until the pathways begin to clear up one by one. The stories are linked one before and one after the other. That’s where the book is genius.

I can’t really discuss much without giving the story away, but the book reads a little differently. Don’t expect the standard fare where things are linear. This book is as twisted as it gets. And that’s where it is an excellent read. It feels like different diaries have opened up at different points of time to show you different pictures and as you’re seeing the different pictures, a clearer complete timeline emerges.

This was a nice book to read.

My Rating: 3.5/5

My rating as such because it took almost one third of the book till I made connections and that made it a little hard to want to continue reading. It’s a toss up between having more clarity and having a completely dreamy quality that the book has. It is a good read nonetheless.

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#So-So : A November Bride (A Year of Weddings 1 #12) by Beth K Vogt

The blurb reads,

“Can a decades-long friendship marred by two romantic missteps ever lead to happily ever after?

Sadie McAllister’s clients know how lucky they are to have her: an ultra-fastidious personal chef who leaves behind a spotless kitchen and a week’s worth of mouth-watering meals.

Erik Davis, her best friend since middle school, is content to enjoy Sadie’s culinary skills too while maintaining their “friends only” status. Most of his energy is focused on his just-launched freelance business and casual dates that never come close to a commitment.

But when Sadie is offered a once-in-a-lifetime cooking job across country, Erik realizes maybe he’s taken his best friend for granted. Even more, he’s about to lose his only chance for lasting love.
How can Erik convince Sadie that the well-known adage “Marry your best friend” just might apply to them? With God’s help, can they both move past their assumptions about each other and their future? Should Sadie and Erik risk taking their relationship to the romantic point of no return? If they do, their decades-long friendship is as a good as done . . . unless it ends at the altar.”

november bride

I picked this book up when I was in Goa on vacation. I downloaded it on my Kindle and started reading it. I remember already having started reading it and I wanted to finish it so that I could complete my yearly target on Goodreads.

I read a Zondervan after so long. I think I skipped a few titles in between but then I finally decided to finish reading this one. The story is simple. The blurb explains it quite well. And I was excited to read a Novella which was NOT based in a small town. There had to be something more than what happened in the small towns.

So the book starts off with Sadie being dumped yet again. And her trying to move on, with the help of her best friend, Eric. And then how one decision helps them both decide.

Now there will be a few spoilers!

Sadie is a chef. I love that atleast some Zondervan book shows a woman as something more than just a prize to be won over. (Correction, the December Bride does show the Protagonist as a Designer). Anyway, Sadie gets the opportunity of a lifetime and then she throws it in the mud to be with Erik. Doesn’t sound too great does it?

Sadie and Erik have been friends for the longest time ever. And with such friendship, comes a camaraderie which makes you familiar with everything there is about the other person. When such a familiarity exists, is it not natural for you to fall in love? Turns out Erik and Sadie did have a bit of a history in school. And now they both resist coming together.

Until,

Sadie gets the opportunity of her lifetime, she gets a chance to grow and to expand much more than she had before. And at that particular time, Erik in a typical chauvinistic fashion, realises that Sadie’s moving will disrupt his convenient life, and his only chance at love.

Now tell me, if Erik is doing a freelance business, it can be done from anywhere. It can be customised to be location independent. Then why does he, in an underhanded manner, try to win Sadie’s affections? Why does he suddenly realise Sadie’s worth to his life? Why does he not push her harder to go and explore this opportunity?

That’s precisely where my problem was with this book. Why should the woman be the one to give up her dreams for the man? Can it not be vice versa? Especially if she gets an opportunity big enough for her to impact her life positively. Sadie would have really expanded because of the opportunity she got. She would have had a chance to hone her talents like nothing else. She would also be closer to her parents. And her choice to me is baffling.

I think this sort of veiled sexism in books should be called out and changed. The man should also be expected to move. All sacrifices should not come from the woman.

Also my moot point of contention with this book was that it is supposed to be a Christian book but there is barely anything in it. Just going to a church and praying that you get some sort of guidance in life is not what you would have in a Christian themed book.

Somehow I feel this series seems to miss the point. It could have capitalised brilliantly on women doing so strongly and being the shining stars in their books but instead all we get is a series where women as always are secondary.

A little bit of rethinking while writing, curating and editing are definitely required.

My Rating: 2.5/5

2 and a half stars

 

 

Wow!!! Absolutely Stunned- Cephrael’s Hand (A Pattern of Shadow and Light #1) by Melissa McPhail

The blurb reads

“All things are composed of patterns…” And within the pattern of the realm of Alorin, three strands must cross: In Alorin three hundred years after the genocidal Adept Wars, the realm is dying, and the blessed Adept race dies with it. One man holds the secret to reverting this decline: Bjorn van Gelderan, a dangerous and enigmatic man whose shocking betrayal three centuries past earned him a traitor’s brand. It is the Adept Vestal Raine D’Lacourte’s mission to learn what Bjorn knows in the hope of salvaging his race. But first he’ll have to find him.

In the kingdom of Dannym the young Prince Ean val Lorian faces a tenuous future as the last living heir to the coveted Eagle Throne. When his blood-brother is slain during a failed assassination, Ean embarks on a desperate hunt for the man responsible. Yet his advisors have their own agendas, and his quest for vengeance leads him ever deeper into a sinuous plot masterminded by a mysterious and powerful man, the one they call First Lord.

In the Nadori desert tormented by the missing pieces of his life, a soldier named Trell heads off to uncover the truth of his shadowed past. But when disaster places him in the debt of Wildlings sworn to the First Lord, Trell begins to suspect a deadlier, darker secret motivating them. Honor-bound to serve the First Lord in return for his life, Trell continues on his appointed path, yet each day unveils new and stranger secrets that eventually call into question everything he knows.

cephrael's hand

 

I’d been a part of Novel Publicity tours before but this was the first tour where I asked for a Paperback to be mailed to me. I don’t know what part of me prompted me to opt for this book, but I did without reading the excerpt.

Right, I have been beta reading/ reviewing/ editing books for quite a while now and so I’d like to think I can make out how good a book is within the first 50 pages, which are the “Golden Pages”. It is within those pages, that I make a decision, mentally, whether to continue reading a book or not.

And the first 10 pages of this book, really shook me up. I’d never read something which had thrown me off so much. I’d never encountered something which was luxuriously complicated yet, it made me want to read and find out what happened next. The Map of Alorin and the Glossary of Terms was very very fascinating and gave me some bit of an insight into what lay ahead in the book.

I was enraptured by Prince Ean’s capture. I was sucked into his world where his blood brother was slain and he was taken away by a mysterious creature. I tried to wrap my head around the long names and a fantasy world which seemed so new, like I had been sucked in there. I tried to link and connect. The first 100 pages, thus I spent in connecting. And then, I realised, I tried to find a pattern in everything. Perhaps, that is what Melissa, the author, intended in the first place.

Of the 3 stories which came into Book 1, I don’t know why, I was drawn to Trell. He reminded me of a certain brooding man, who is one of my closest today, and that somehow made me want to read more about Trell. I found his back story so very fascinating, and his experiences were so bizzare.

Right, so let me discuss the book the way I usually do, with questions and answers. The Adept race is dying. These weilders of strands are dying and not finding their knowledge returning. Without this power, the realm is slowly dying. To coincide with this decline, there are dark forces who are out to unhinge the world as every one knows it. The Adept Wars have led the Fourth Vestal, Raine, to seek his blood brother Björn and seek answers for his hand in destroying the Adept race and Alorin. 

Why is everyone coming to assassinate one prince of one small kingdom? Who are the mysterious creatures who come to save Ean at every danger? Who is Trell? Will he be able to find out what happened to him? Can he discover his past without compromising his integrity? Who are the mysterious creatures he finds? Why is fate so much in his favour?

What really happened in the Adept Wars? Who was responsible for tearing the fabric of the Adept race? Was Björn really the culprit or are there truths that Raine has clouded his vision to? 

This book was all of this and so much more!!!

I was so hooked and I was so annoyed I had to study when I really wanted to be sitting in a corner reading this book. In a way, the delayed reading enhanced my experience. I had so much more to look forward to. I was peeling the layers and discovering what was happening and trying to reconstruct everything, just like the characters were. I was satiated by reading little bit at a time and those auto tweets which went out to my twitter feed reached Melissa who was also in tune with my progress. It was an amazing feeling.

I was so happy that another blog tour for this book was announced because I couldn’t finish it the first time around and this time, I made sure to write a review.

One of the things I really love about this book is the complexity. Some people like books to be fairly simple but I love it when my mind is deceived and this one did that on all counts. I was so shocked this wasn’t picked up by some publishing house and how it hadn’t become a big phenomenon yet. When it does, I am sure we will stand smug, knowing we spotted it first!!!

The winning point, apart from the beautiful new world of Alorin, is how believable characters are. Ean is young, reckless and he remains so. Trell is mature, composed and is purposeful. Alyneri is troubled, dedicated and knows love. Raine is burdened and rightly so. Each character has their own role to play and while there are so many, each character has his role to play.

By the end of the book, I was glad the second one had already arrived because the day I finished reading Book 1, I just jumped to reading Book 2. I have my own opinions about Bethamin and his fire and that seems like such an apt explanation looking at world events but my lips are sealed. Contact me to know more about my opinions :p

Also, what I liked, being Indian, a lot of names were Indian sounding. The drawchyr, Ramu, Balaji, Mithiya and Jaya made me feel like somehow, my culture had influenced the writing of this book and that drew me further to the book.

 

I don’t really doubt my rating. But this book has seriously knocked it out of the park!!!

5 star5 star5 starThrice? That is how good this book was!!!! Now that I’ve finished Book 2, I feel like there is some void in my life. I want Book 3 and I want it NOW. I also want the other books because I want to be reading them all the time!

Just pick this one up NOW!!

 

 

A So So YA: Heart’s Discovery by Amy McGuire

The Blurb Reads

Anjaline Rodriguez thinks that mountain boy Gabriel Walker is a snob, even though she can’t stop thinking about his fathomless eyes. Could he just be shy? Damian Vega could be trouble, but bad boys are hard to resist, especially when the good one seems like a judgmental know-it-all. 

She thought her world had ended when her stepfather’s job ripped her away from her friends and her dream of attending the prestigious Cotopaxi Academy back home in Quito, Ecuador. Anjaline goes from a tropical, densely populated Latin American city to a cold, drizzly Canadian village populated by three small families, complete with major culture shock. On top of being stuck in the middle of nowhere, she has no clue how to deal with two attractive boys. 

Gabriel thinks the exotic Latina is too spoiled. He’s never figured out how to talk to pretty girls anyway, and can’t get rid of that stutter when he’s nervous. It’s practically love at first sight. Gabriel knows he needs to tell her how he feels, but while he’s gathering his courage, Damian may just spoil everything. Will Anjaline return Gabriel’s feelings in time or will tragedy tear them apart before she has the chance?

 

The author’s name confused me a little when I saw the mail for the blog tour. I realized I was confusing Amy with Jamie McGuire whose Facebook page I’ve liked.

So back to the point. I picked up my first YA novel for the year. And it seemed exciting.  Girl from Quito moves to a remote village in Canada (When I first started reading it reminded me of Sitka, the place where Sandra Bullock goes in the Proposal. And that was a really great movie. So I decided it was worth a try)

Angeline is a fiery teenager who is innocent and loves to make bonds that run deep. Gabriel is a shy introvert who falls for Angeline’s exotic beauty when he first sees her. Two different personalities,  how do they come together? And once they are together, will there be a romance in Hope Valley? Will they be able to weather all the storms that come their way? What about Damien? The dark horse who threatens to disrupt everything? Or Evelyn, whose jealousy for Angeline can spoil her relationship with her brother?

It was exciting premise. And who doesn’t remember the sweetness of first love. On that count I liked the book. But there were so many things that weighed against it and compared to the sweet moments of Gabe and Angeline’s relationship, I ended up feeling like I’d watched a movie marathon not remembering anything clearly.

Here are my HITS!

1. A strong female protagonist with a strong start. Having your life uprooted is never easy and I was so excited to see how Angeline managed that.
2. Those moments when Amy explores their relationship and how they manage to find space for each other to lose their hearts, that was endearing
3. I loved that Amy put up photos of Hope Valley just for people to imagine how it would look like. A visual matters so much and this point was a major win for me.
4. There were small moments when a gesture from Gabe or Angeline touched my heart. I loved that sweet simplicity. We keep wondering and wishing for glitzy love. Some thing we see or read in the papers.  But those small things count. And they touch more. Deeper!

Now my MISSES

1. Too many secondary characters getting too much space. I would have loved some more focus on Angeline and Gabe.
2. The book seems to have NO pace at all
I kept looking at the page numbers again and again and again. Not Good!
3. Inconsistencies in the characters and scenes and dialogs. A beta reader would have pointed them out, or even an editor would have.
4. The length. I felt the book was too long for a story that just didn’t seem to move.
5. I rely a lot on emotions the book evokes in me and this book, in a large way simply frustrated me. I wanted fewer thoughts, more dialogue and something to draw me in and touch me. The twists made me feel even more like I just wanted it to end.
6. Damien. The author introduced a villain of sorts in the book without exploring his psychological angle properly and then eliminated him. It sort of felt like characters were just there in the book, mere shadows. Who you couldn’t connect with, love or appreciate.

And lastly,

Gabe!! Why you ask? Why did the hero turn me off? I was never drawn into his thoughts or what he felt. Gabe felt like a misfit. His relationship with ANYONE in the book was not explored and yes he did whine too much for my liking. Maybe this is a YA but somehow Gabe was the Achilles heel of this book. It did nothing at all reading about anything happening to and with him. Nothing.

I’m currently reading the sequel and I have my theory about which way the book is going to go. And I really hope it doesn’t. I’ve come to love the secondary characters in the sequel. The lead pair still for me, lack a serious punch.

My rating: 2/5

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It has been so so long since I rated a book this low. Really. And I didn’t want to. But writing the review sort of brings out the reasons why I precisely didn’t like the book. If the romance can’t draw me in, you’ve lost me there. And if a secondary character interests me more, that defect is too serious to miss.

I’m so so on recommending this too. I think if you found something better definitely go for it.

Wonderfully Historic- Venice in Moonlight by Elizabeth McKenna

What a Beautiful Cover

What a Beautiful Cover

The Blurb reads

Considered useless by his cold-hearted father, Nico Foscari, eldest son of one of the founding families in Venice, hides his pain behind gambling, drinking and womanizing.

After her husband’s untimely demise, Marietta Gatti returns to her hometown of Venice in hopes of starting a new life and finding the happiness that was missing in her forced marriage. When Fate throws them together, friendship begins to grow into love until Marietta learns a Foscari family secret that may have cost her father his life. Now, she must choose between vengeance, forgiveness, and love. Elizabeth McKenna’s latest novel takes you back to the days of eighteenth century Carnival, where lovers meet discreetly, and masks make everyone equal

I’d done a Blog Tour for one fellow Indian Blogger and then I saw this book on the Making Connections list. I then said “Why wait” and asked for the book right away!! Although I have countless other books which I’ve queued on Goodreads, I couldn’t resist reading this one ahead of the others!

The book takes you to a mysterious world, a dark world called Venice. I’ve often thought that Venice was rather a bleak city and tended to get depressing sometimes with the dark alleys and small lanes. This book captured that for me.

Also it explored the social scene in Venice and explored how Maria picks up her life after being thrown out by her cruel Mother In Law. Maria realises that her MIL has been holding out on her and there is foul play concerning her father’s death. Whyever else would he stop writing to her? Also how did he die bankrupt and cold? Didn’t she realise that he had sold a few paintings?

Maria encounters Nico and finds herself drawn to the semi blind and smart stranger who has this sort of overbearing protective emotion about her. She discovers secrets she must not and her life gets intertwined with Nico’s. Can she seek what she came for? Can she avenge her father’s death? Is there life for a widow who is socially disgraced?

I found this book to be delightful and fun loving.

There were questions which I pondered about.  Was the world always so brutal to women? Did a widow have no rights whatsoever even when her husband’s death was not even remotely her fault? Why do dark alleys propogate so much of secrecy? And lastly why does the world have fanatics? How do we become so obsessed and delusional with our own line of thought that we find any other thought contrary to ours repugnant? However this book is not a serious one and I’ll leave my deliberation aside.
What I enjoyed aboutabout this story was the fact that the characters drew you in. There wasn’t the unnecessary spook or the suspense or that fast pace that a few books brought which rob you of your existence till the book is done. I love such books but this one was different in balancing the history with the mystery 😉
The chemistry between the lead pair is genial and slow. It isn’tisn’t a whirlwind romance, certainly in tune with the times the book is set out in. I enjoyed looking at Venice from Maria’s eyes and having been to Venice myself, could imagine the city readily enough. j appreciated that there was no trivialising affections. Maria felt love for Nico but it was a bond which grew ouy of friendship and appreciate such a tie.
I am a little hazy about the end because I read this book before October and being the delayed reviewer that I am saw the draft today. And today this review shall be out.
This is a good book which you can take to bed on a cosy night and read in the candlelight
My Rating.: 3.5/5
3.5 starts

My Favorite Vampire Story: The Bloodline: Forbidden Hunger

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What an Attractive Cover this Makes!!!!

The Blurb reads,

 

Meet Zanette Amelia, the first Vampire. Struggling through life by denying her destiny, she soon realises that, if she is to protect herself and her heart she must embrace her life as Vampire Queen. Finding comfort in a self-built empire she soon discovers that danger isn’t far behind. She is under attack and is left with a decision whether or not to cut all ties with the past and start a fresh or risk hers and everyone else’s future to be what she always wanted to be:…Normal? Follow Zanette Amelia into a world of pure pain, tragedy and loss, heartbreak and fear. A woman you love to read and hate to be alive. Who’s side will you take on this incredible journey through power, love and acceptance? If you love Twilight, Interview with the Vampire and Underworld this is your book. Packed full of action, emotion and love and betrayal. “Welcome to the Bloodline” Amelia

One of the most misleading points here in the blurb is the resemblance to Twilight. While I have no qualms with the Twilight lovers, it has not been something I have enjoyed. But this book has changed my outlook, quite literally, about Vampire Books.

Zanette Amelie finds herself turned into a monster through a quirk of fate. As she navigates her life through her new found powers, she finds herself leaving her old life and her grandpapa behind. Amazed with her new sense of powers and driven by an urge to feed, she travels across the continent, creating a loyal servant Lucas and on the way finding love.

When Zanette finds her love and dreams shattered, she goes wild. She decides to fructify her intentions to rule the world. She sets forth with her servant Lucas and finds herself a suitable place to start her coven.

Will her intentions manifest? What happens when she encounters the past? How can she create more like herself and still continue to control them? What happens when she faces opposition? Can she afford to kill without someone becoming suspicious?

The questions are enough to make you think. Although the book is long, the length is lost in a brilliantly written story and solid characters. I have loved reading this book and I kept sneaking my way to the story in spite of my work.

Amelie reminds me of Charlize Theron from Snow White and the Hunstman and I found myself comparing their strengths and weaknesses and finding the character getting stronger! I admired the writer’s ability to thrash out Amelie’s fears and tribulations, her battle with the past and her decisions for the future. Reading into the mind of a cold and ruthless leader was a little shocking, I’d not expected to read about regret and love. I thought Amelie was a cold-blooded monster.

One of the most interesting points of the book is the complex and layered characters. The book swerved through Points of Views of Amelie and Her Avenger. There was never a dull moment in the book. I felt I had to peel every character to understand what substance they were made of. I felt Amelie truly regretting what she had become and I felt sad for her. This was not a fate she chose, not becoming a Vampire.

In a way this was like reading a Prequel to all Vampire books. This was how it started. And it was a satisfying one. I could never have fathomed the end. NEVER!! The end was BRILLIANT. I have no words.

I could really imagine this being played out like a film and I truly hope it goes to the big screen one day!! Kudos to the author!!

 

My Rating: A Well Deserved 4/5

4star

 

 

Riveting and Nail Biting- Jenna’s Journey by Julie Ryan

Jennas journey large

The Blurb reads

“A Greek Island Mystery”

Doesn’t give very much away though does it?

And for GOOD MEASURE!! The Book has so much to offer!!

Amazon though provides a picture

“When Jenna decides on a whim to go to Greece, she’s trying to escape her failing marriage. Will Greg let her go so easily though? Can she make a new future for herself and how did she get involved in an antiques smuggling ring? Is fellow holidaymaker Tom all he seems and will it be happy ever after with Nikos? It’s not until twenty-five years later that some of the questions are finally answered.”

I was hooked!! I have a story to this particular book. It is especially close to my heart. I have been with this book as a Beta and now as a Reviewer and I have loved it.

Jenna finds herself in a quandary when she realises her marriage is crumbling. While walking, she finds a board in a window which changes her life forever.

Suddenly, the much rule loving Jenna finds herself booking herself to Greece for a trip of her lifetime.

Once she is in Greece, she finds herself in the middle of racket and finds someone trying to hurt her. When she finds herself falling for the handsome Nikos, what will she do? Will she stay in Greece, or go back to her husband? Will her life spin out of control?

This book was EVERYTHING and MORE. Inspite of being a simple sounding story, it is luxuriantly complicated with time-lapses and a story with wonderfully developed characters.

The author draws from her travels and the descriptions of Greece are immaculate to say the least. The characters are wonderful and are very strongly bound together. There are few stories I have read since I have switched to reading independent authors, which are so strongly bonded because of characters who stay on your mind, and a plot that attracts you so very much.

I have loved this book, travelled with Jenna, felt my heart tug, reading about her and Nikos.

Just when I thought the book was done giving me surprises and twists, there was the end. I thought everything was over, and yet Julie went one step ahead and tied them up so much more effectively!!

This book is such a BRILLIANT READ!!! I cannot believe it is written by a debutante author!! I would have this along with my Danielle Steel books!!

My Rating: 4/5

I have Loved this book!! It is one of the BEST READS OF 2013!!!! Absolutely BRILLIANT STUFF!!

4star