Book Marketing Blurbs that Need to Disappear

I read a couple of books this past week, and while I didn’t find them terrible, I didn’t find them aligning with my expectations either. Expectations set because of the marketing blurbs.

Now, I understand the need of using snippets of early “professional reviews” and author blurbs. But some of them are just so.. overused these days that I wish they would just .. disappear.

Note: I am talking only about the bylines used to publicize the book before its release. It is different than readers forming their own opinions later (which can be them agreeing to whatever the book was pitched as before release). 

  1. The WidowThe Next Gone Girl. This is at the top of my list because literally every psych thriller is pitched as the Next Gone Girl these days. Or the “Next Gone Girl and The Next Girl on the Train” (The GotT was probably pitched as the The Next Gone Girl in the first place). Not every thriller featuring a lonely woman in a dysfunctional marriage has to be similar to the next GG. What made GG stand out was a twisted marital relationship set against the backdrop of a “typical” case of a missing person. Amy and Nick were interesting to read about because it was a constant battle of wits between them . They fought nasty. Didn’t matter that the outcome was always one-sided. But the bottomline is – they were never passive characters. I expected The Widow to be something along those lines (and I don’t mean a similar story)… While the book itself was quite engrossing, Jean and Glen just made for a dull couple to read about.
  2. Song of Blood & Stone (Earthsinger Chronicles, #1)<Book 1> meets <Book 2> or <Classic 1> meets <Classic 2> Comparing a book with two books – that by itself is enough pressure to live upto. But, what if you are calling your book as a blend of two well known classics from different genres? For example, Song of Blood and Stone is described as “Romeo and Juliet meets Return of the King” .  WHYYY??? I enjoyed the book but it is neither an epic romance nor does it have a world as fleshed out as one would expect from a high fantasy. I would love it if this kind of marketing – calling it a cross between two well-known popular books – has more thought put into it. It is great if the book actually fits the description, but otherwise pretty disappointing for the readers.
  3. “….world reminiscent of Harry Potter” – Or a “Middle Grade Harry Potter” Or a     “<insert country name> Harry Potter” –  I love Harry Potter and I do get the temptation of labeling every book featuring a 11 or 12 year old discovering magic as the Next Harry Potter. But I feel, it kind of holds the book to a very, “recognizable standard” of what the general fantasy world should contain? I mean, what if it is a much different book despite some similar elements. And, maybe, a better book in its own right? As such, I find it very difficult NOT to compare fantasy books with HP.  This just makes it even harder to “move on”.
  4.  “Fans of John Green” or “Fans of TFIOS” for every “Cancer Story” .  I loved TFIOS despite its flaws. I am not a fan of some of the similar stories (pitched for “fans of TFIOS”) that followed though. Showing a couple in love and romanticizing cancer isn’t the sum total of TFIOS.
  5. One Word Blurbs – Stupendous! Fabulous! Fantastic! Fantabulous! Stupendofabulous!!!

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Is there any kind of book blurb you are fed up of? Or have you always had positive reading experiences after picking a book based on the blurb? Do let me know in the comments!!!

All the mildly irritating aspects about picking fantasies for your TBR list!!!!

I really like fantasies, but over the years I seem to have accumulated lots of unfinished books and series. I thought, instead of just listing them, it would be interesting to list them with reasons for ditching so many of them mid-way.

So here are some of the reasons devoting time to fantasies ends up being frustrating:Gold Divider Badass Book Reviews Ohoybc Clipart
1) When it feels like the authors went through plotting fatigue by the time they get to the penultimate book in the series! 

Image result for inheritance cycle

I felt that way when I read Brisingr. I just thought it opened up too many plots and meandering directions, so I wasn’t too interested in reading the final one.  But this is a series I would like to re-read someday and hopefully finish!

2) When you search for, and read a standalone. But, it ends up being a series!

The Diabolic (The Diabolic, #1)The Empress (The Diabolic, #2)

So, I search for and pick a standalone to read (which is like a Unicorn in fantasies these days). I love it and…. then go online and discover that the author has announced a second book. My initial reaction is positive, but then I wonder, why can’t a standalone stay that way???? Over time, I have realized I don’t do the whole “waiting for the next book in the series to read” thing too well.. because:

3) When, by the time the next book comes out, I forget the events of the previous book .

Buy from: Amazon, B&N, BAM, iBooks, Indiebound, Indigo, TargetBuy from: Amazon, B&N, BAM, iBooks, Indiebound, Indigo, Target

I feel like so much time has passed, and it is hard to invest time and re-read a 400+ page book just to refresh memory. And sometimes, it takes longer to get the next book.. especially if you are relying on your library (and you are in some gazillionth position in the Holds queue). Well, I did end up buying Wayfarer (through a B&N card gifted by a friend <3)  , and it is still lying on my bookshelf…. I loved Passenger, and so, I want to get back to the series this year.. Moreover, I think I must have forgotten most of Passenger by now, so it would be like reading a new book all over.

4) When fantasy demands uniterrupted reading time, especially if it is too rich in world-building (almost info-dumpy)

Image result for nevernightImage result for nevernight

And it is not always possible to devote such time. I find it harder to get back to fantasies, if I keep taking breaks of  a few days at a time … With the huge cast, places, timelines, magic systems… It is overwhelming trying to recollect what happened the last time I read. In comparison it is easier to get back to half-read books from most of the other genres.

Maybe I have just lost touch with… getting through heavy fantasy reads? To get past this, I have decided to set my primary reading goal this year as to: High fantasy – especially Brandon Sanderson and Patrick Rothfuss books .

I don’t think I am ever going to get back to Nevernight though.

5) When it is hard to find a fantasy book that does: 1) Not classify as dystopian in Amazon/Goodreads 2) Not comprise of a female badass teenage MC who is a special snowflake 3) Not have a Chosen One trope 4) Not have a friend-zoned best friend.

Now, I know all genres have tropes, stereotypes ‘n all, and TBH I don’t even mind these tropes most of the time.. as long as it does not have most of them in every book!!! To some extent, I feel it is also because I have stopped looking past the usual and oft-repeated “popular” recommendations on social media. So, this year, I have decided to read some of the “older” books and look into more adult fantasy recommendations in the blogosphere. Let’s see how that goes!

Gold Divider Badass Book Reviews Ohoybc Clipart

So, what is your favorite genre? Do you read lot of fantasies? Is there any genre that you had given up on but want to try with renewed enthusiasm in 2018? Hit me up with some recommendations in the comments below!!!

[ARC Review]Genesis (Project Nemesis #2) by Brendan Reichs

Genesis (Project Nemesis #2)Rating: 

Synopsis2Noah Livingston knows he is destined to survive.

The 64 members of Fire Lake’s sophomore class are trapped in a place where morals have no meaning, and zero rules apply. But Noah’s deaths have trained him–hardened him–to lead the strongest into the future . . . whatever that may be. And at any cost. 

Min Wilder knows that survival alone isn’t enough. 

Trapped in a violent world where brute force passes for leadership, it’s tempting to lay back and let everyone else fight it out. But Min’s instincts rebel against allowing others to decide who lives and who dies. She’s ready to fight for what she believes in. And against whomever might stand in her way.

My review [Contains mild spoilers from Nemesis]

It was kind of hard to gather my thoughts for this review as I kept forgetting where Nemesis ended and Genesis began. I read this immediately after Nemesis, so the lines separating the events in both the books kept blurring in my mind. Moreover, it has been a while since I finished this book.

But, oh my, this was so good! I am happy I managed to get an ARC and didn’t have to wait till March to read this. This was such a fantastic sequel and .. well … an amazing example of how you up the ante on everything, while resolving some unanswered issues too:

  1. Genesis starts off with Min and Noah pondering about everything they do know. And still don’t. I loved that Min kind of spoke for me as a reader. Spoke for all my doubts. Through the characters, the book wastes no time tackling a gaping existential plot hole of the first book – how on earth can you make a book about murders interesting when no one can really… stay dead?
  2. I found the inclusion of so many characters in the first book sort of overwhelming, But this book explains the need for such a large “book population”. New alliances are formed, old ones are broken and some just go underground. Oh, there is a lot of emphasis on strategy, vantage points, “brute force v/s brains” and the clash of personalities. Of people choosing to die instead of “sinning”.
  3. Min’s best friend – Tack avoids coming across as the generic best friend / sidekick stereotype we usually see in fantasies with the “strong female teenager” as the main character. In fact, none of the three – Min, Noah and Tack, ever come across as invincible. It is quite the opposite – All three of them – at some point or the other (or, for most of their lives) – have been shown as people bullied by others, lacking confidence, and shirking the responsibility of leading. It is something they have to learn to “fake” – the poise – in order to survive.
  4. At different points in the story, the three of them get separated from each other and re-group with different characters. I think that was such a great way to not just see them as “individuals” (instead of, as a “pack of three” – like it usually happens in fantasies”), but also let the secondary characters share the spotlight and be integral to the plot.
  5. I loved how, for the most part, Min and Noah were just stumbling around for answers. How they never came across as the Chosen One or “special snowflake” stereotype. In fact, for all the time taken to set them up as lovers/antagonists, it was two other characters who stole the show –  whose actions set up some of the concluding moments in the book.

There were a few things that could have been better. After all the violence in the book, the ending gave a “wrapped in a neat little bow” vibe. And, I feel the inclusion of so many characters diluted the effect of some of the “twists” in the book. It is hard to get “shocked” about a X,Y or Z character betraying one another if I barely remember who they were in the first place.

Overall impressions If you loved Nemesis – If you were spooked by the Guardian, daunted by the Silo and wondering whether there was more to the beta-testing, then you would love Genesis. It is gory, twisted and perfect for readers who love books with people dropping dead every other page. And yaayyy!!!! There is a third book coming!! Can’t wait!

Note: I won an ARC of this book from Amanda MacGregor. Genesis releases on March 6th , 2018

[ARC Review] Shadowsong – Marginally better than Wintersong…

Shadowsong (Wintersong, #2)Rating:

Synopsis2Six months after the end of Wintersong, Liesl is working toward furthering both her brother’s and her own musical careers. Although she is determined to look forward and not behind, life in the world above is not as easy as Liesl had hoped. Her younger brother Josef is cold, distant, and withdrawn, while Liesl can’t forget the austere young man she left beneath the earth, and the music he inspired in her. 

When troubling signs arise that the barrier between worlds is crumbling, Liesl must return to the Underground to unravel the mystery of life, death, and the Goblin King—who he was, who he is, and who he will be. What will it take to break the old laws once and for all? What is the true meaning of sacrifice when the fate of the world—or the ones Liesl loves—is in her hands?

My review [Contains spoilers from Wintersong]

Shadowsong starts six months after Liesl walks out of the Underground, her marriage with the Goblin King and the title of the Goblin Queen. In doing so, she disturbs the delicate balance that keeps her world secure, safe and immune to the “unholy spirits” of the world below her – As the old Laws of the Underground demands that a sacrifice be made – a sacrifice in the form of a bride for their King  – to ensure that life breathes into the world Liesl lives in. To ensure that Winter gives way to Spring.

This book is all about the slow consequences of Liesl choosing to walk out. And also about what she decides to do with her new-found knowledge of Josef being a changeling – whose life is a consequence of Liesl’s prayers when he had fallen ill as a baby. Liesl’s brother isnt meant for the world above and the only thing keeping him tethered and stopping him from joining the other changelings in the Underground is his sister’s wish and his partner’s – Francois’s – love for him.

I had made it pretty evident in my review of Wintersong about how frustrated I was with the romance. But I really liked the revelation about Josef and also wanted to see how Liesl deals with going back to her life. So I did go into Shadowsong with some expectation and anticipation…

The plotting The world-building continues in this book; the world – in terms of myths and tales – expands – and phenomenon such as “elf-touched” and “elf-struck” are spoken about a lot more than the previous book. But, the issue I had with the book is this – though we got more of the “background” wrt. the origin of the Goblin Kings, the sacrifices required by the queens and so on… I never felt like I understood it any better.. This book introduced two new factions who have connected with the Underworld in the past within some capacity (like Liesl) which felt so unnecessary. I mean, I think atleast one could have been totally done away with… It just felt like the author introduced too many concepts.. but couldnt connect them too well..

The characters Josef is aloof with everyone and angry with Liesl. His sense of betrayal and Liesl’s hurt feelings are well-depicted and probably the best part of the book. I was also glad to see more of Kathe and Francois, and gosh, I will say it again .. Kathe deserves a better story. And Francois deserved atleast one opportunity to vent on-page about how distant Josef was. I mean, Liesl got almost two books to dwell, moan and whine.

Honestly, I quite enjoyed the first half of the book, where it focused on Liesl, Josef, Kathe and Francois. It was only in the second part where Liesl again slipped into pining for the Goblin King and pretty much indulged in constant self-flagellation for her past choices that I was reminded about how much Liesl bored me in Wintersong.

Overall impressions A different concept, with some great ideas. But they just didn’t fit too well. Too many contradictions and vague explanations about how the Laws and sacrifices are supposed to work.

If you enjoyed the first book, then I think you would really like this a lot more than I did. I found it to be a much better book than Wintersong though.

Note: I won an ARC of this book from Amanda MacGregor. Shadowsong releases on Feb 6th , 2018

Wintersong – A semi-spoilery rant.

Wintersong (Wintersong, #1) Rating:

Synopsis2All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.

My reviewThis is one of those books which starts out really strong, loses steam mid-way and then splutters into such a mind-numbing conclusion (not! there is a sequel) that .. you are just left to wonder – How can a novel intended to have Music as its backbone leave you feeling so empty?

  • Liesl was annoying, the Goblin King was annoying and well.. their romance was annoying . I couldnt take anything Liesl said or felt seriously because I never got the sense that she even knew what her priorities were or where her loyalties lie… Her “love” for her family members kind of flits around.. Sometimes she has Kathe in her thoughts, sometimes it is her brother.. but most of the time.. none of them seem to matter in comparison to her new-found proximity and place in the Goblin king’s life and the “freedom” she finds Underground.. And, she remembers her parents occasionally as an afterthought…
  • And oh, dont let the synopsis fool you.. Liesl’s strength doesn’t come from the Goblin King – “musically”, “physically”, or “emotionally” – it comes after they have sex – which you might miss if you flip the pages to skim over musical or flowery metaphors. Gosh, there was something so… needy and whiny about the way Liesl craved for physical intimacy – and that too so quickly after she is practically blackmailed into being held captive.. that despite all her affirmations throughout the book that it is “her choice” to be in the relationship – I just couldn’t shrug off feeling so creeped out by their unhealthy and almost Stolkholm-Syndrome-like dynamics..
  • The writing in general is beautiful.. with a great concept.. But I just wished the book didn’t spend such a major chunk of its page time on Liesl grumbling and the Goblin King playing the most boring version of the Brooding YA Hero trope ever written.
  • The world-building is kind of confusing… and gave the impression that the author just put in a lot of pretty dressing and sparkly icing to cover up a wafer-thin setting. What could have been summarized in five sentences is spread thin throughout the book and presented very …. very….. slowly..
  • Oh, how I wish there was more of Kathe , and less of Liesl’s condescension and judgement about her… It was the most blatant .. “My sister is shallow and pretty but I am ordinary and deep and beautiful from inside” trope ever. Except that Kathe is so much more .. – that we are robbed of seeing because of – Liesl.GoblinKing.Epic.Love.Story

But, oh, I am interested in reading the sequel because the twist in the later part of the book is interesting and kind of sets up the sequel to focus on a slightly different plot. And it looks like (fingers crossed) we might get more of another love story too..

Edit: Amidst all the metaphors and flowery prose, the bit that actually had the most impact on me (maybe because I had just watched Coco) was this bit :

Image result for coco movie images This was the immortality humans were meant to have: to be remembered by those who loved us long after our bodies had crumbled to dust.

 

 

Teaser Tuesday #7

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm.

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Furthermore

My Teasers:

When their world was built it was so breathtakingly beautiful-so rich and colorful- the sky wept for a hundred years. Tears of great joy and grief flooded the earth, fissuring it apart and, in the process, creating rivers and lakes and oceans that still exist today. (Page 100)

Furthermore – By Tahereh Mafi

The Diabolic – By S.J. Kincaid

The DiabolicRating:

Buy Links:

Hardcover          Kindle        Paperback

Synopsis2A Diabolic is ruthless. A Diabolic is powerful. A Diabolic has a single task: Kill in order to protect the person you’ve been created for.

Nemesis is a Diabolic, a humanoid teenager created to protect a galactic senator’s daughter, Sidonia. The two have grown up side by side, but are in no way sisters. Nemesis is expected to give her life for Sidonia, and she would do so gladly. She would also take as many lives as necessary to keep Sidonia safe.

When the power-mad Emperor learns Sidonia’s father is participating in a rebellion, he summons Sidonia to the Galactic court. She is to serve as a hostage. Now, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia. She must become her. Nemesis travels to the court disguised as Sidonia—a killing machine masquerading in a world of corrupt politicians and two-faced senators’ children. It’s a nest of vipers with threats on every side, but Nemesis must keep her true abilities a secret or risk everything.

As the Empire begins to fracture and rebellion looms closer, Nemesis learns there is something more to her than just deadly force. She finds a humanity truer than what she encounters from most humans. Amidst all the danger, action, and intrigue, her humanity just might be the thing that saves her life—and the empire.

My reviewSet against an intergalactic background, this dystopian fantasy was just pure adrenaline rush!!! To be honest, I haven’t read too many fantasies set in space, so I don’t know how this novel measures up to some of the others in its genre, but just speaking as someone who was a bit bored with dystopian fiction, this was just what I needed to get back into the genre again. It had all the elements one would be familiar with, right from political coups, murderous monarchies, forbidden love, a whole lot of “post-apocalyptic” mess and a ruling elite family that thrives on renouncing past history to hold onto power. But there was something so fresh and fluid about the storytelling, that all the sheen of exciting descriptions – of the world, the humanoids, the spaceships, technology – doesn’t take your attention away from what forms the crux of the book – Just how transcendental are the lines between love, loyalty and servitude? In the beginning, I was a bit worried that Nemesis will get boring as the book progresses, for being (literally!) robotic. But, I just fell in love with how the author, S.J. Kincaid, managed to strike the balance between her being an “invention” to her actually having the capacity to develop humane feelings. It never felt ridiculous because Kincaid sets up the details and groundwork pretty well. The Diabolic’s entire “construction” is based on loyalty to one person.

Nemesis and Sidonia’s relationship was beautiful and as Sidonia keeps trying to convince Nemesis, just because she was “designed” to feel loyal to her, it doesn’t mean that “forced” love isn’t real. This is something Nemesis struggles with throughout the book, whether she can really submit herself to another person’s cause and beliefs, especially after circumstances end up bringing her and Tyrus Domitrian (the corrupt Emperor’s nephew) together as they team up and try to bring down the Domitrian clan. I was surprised that the love story didn’t bother me at all in this book though it did take up a significant part of the story. Maybe because it was written in a way that wasn’t distracting and actually felt very integral to the objectives of the main story – whether it is revenge, political power-play or just survival. It just felt natural that there had to be a Nemesis and Tyrus partnership.

I absolutely loved the female characters in this book, not just Nemesis and Sidonia but a whole lot of others. In fact, it is probably the women more than the men who not just wielded actual power, but also knew how to manipulate and use it for their version of the “greater good”.  I also liked how clear the class demarcations were vis-à-vis the planet and space dwellers. I was just so happy and .. impressed with how neat everything was – the world-building , history, tech-stuff, sci-fi, politics and power-hungry families. Was it perfect? Well, maybe not. But it was as neat as one can expect from a standalone fantasy. I was satisfied with – this is a bit of a shocker – not just the love story but also the love triangle (yup, there is one, a very unusual one).

I was a bit taken aback with the sort-of-happy ending which came after some very twisted maneuvers and shocking revelations. I would have probably preferred a darker ending which would have fit in perfectly with the rest of the book. Nevertheless, it was a really good way to end the book. Kincaid finishes it off in a way which leaves you with a slight doubt about what exactly happened and who is telling the truth. That just about sums up what a lot of the book was about – finding a way to keep your love alive amidst a whole lot of backstabbing.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, Jack Thorne

  Rating:

Synopsis:

Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

Review: 

After reading all the reviews, and after all that I came to know about the book, I wasn’t really planning on buying it. But, my husband surprised me by taking me to B&N under the pretext of  “let’s just roam around a bit and spend the evening browsing books”  and buying it for me. I was all “Oh, umm… I heard it isn’t really that good, and well you know.. it isn’t exactly Harry’s story.. for me, the story ended after seven books…. “  and so on.. . Then, I kept staring at the huge stack of the Cursed Child copies… and I said “Oh screw it, let’s buy it!”

Since I never planned on reading it so soon – I had just booked it at my library and would have had to wait for months to read it as there were more than a hundred holds for it – I carelessly browsed through quite a few major spoilers online. I didn’t mind it either because the whole idea of Cursed Child felt weird to me so  I was pretty okay with reading some of the big spoilers. But now that I actually ended up reading it, I am in a bit of a conundrum about how to review it.  As I cannot really exclaim that “I was surprised by this” for some of the things that I knew beforehand.

So you must be wondering whether I even managed to like or enjoy the book?

Well, hell yeaahhh!!!

*Note : This review contains mild spoilers, with me gushing and maybe using the word “nostalgia” and it’s variants a dozen times*

The story pretty much hinges on time-travelling being done by more than one character multiple times. The whole thing was unconvincing and that wasn’t the only one. Time Turners and Polyjuice Potions were spoken about, summoned and used so casually, you would find it hard to believe that there was a time when these two concepts were stressed about, discussed and explained with such detail in past books. So yes, the writers take a lot of “magical liberties” with time, space and appearances. You have Transfiguration being used as a temporary substitute for Polyjuice Potion in one scene, and Time Turners creating alternate realities in so many others (and I know all about that, okay??  Wrote an entire review on it, so don’t tell me – time-travel<>alternate reality, what’s the difference?)

But damn, I wasn’t prepared for all the nostalgia that is going to follow with being re-introduced to so many characters (some dead in real-time) in the other timelines. All that going back and forth time sprung up those lump-in-my-throat moments which probably wasn’t possible by just following the lives of older characters in real time.  And speaking of the older characters, oh geez, it was so weird to see this side of Draco; and weirder to see him and Harry having polite conversations. Well, it was all-round surreal to see everyone older, introspective and making candid admissions like both Ginny and Draco confessing that they were jealous of the Harry-Hermione-Ron friendship at Hogwarts!! To see Ron being this goofy dad and uncle cracking lame jokes. Ron still being the first one to get affected by Draco’s snark, take the bait and get up to punch him. Despite the seriousness of that scene, I had a huge smile on my face and thinking “Some things never change….”

What about the younger ones, you ask? Well, the Cursed Child focuses mostly on Albus and Scorpius as they travel through time more than once. Scorpius was too kind and well, positively angelic right from the first scene, Albus already seemed to be over-burdened with being Harry’s son and named after Dumbledore and Snape. He has a less-than-pleasant time at Hogwarts, but from whatever I gauged, Hogwarts might have made it worse but it felt like he had already made up his mind that school is going to be terrible. And Scorpius seemed to be speaking for us readers, always trying to be positive and making the best of things and chiding Albus for always whining about his life. I guess what I am saying is that, both the characters felt a bit contrived. As if Albus was written to always sulk and Scorpius was written to always be nicer, sensible and pleasing to read about. Then again, just the idea that it is Albus and Scorpius – a Potter and a Malfoy becoming best friends – is what made their scenes interesting to me.

If I really think about it, the shared history is what made everything interesting. I mean, who would have thought that two decades later Harry and Draco will be having a conversation about how they don’t understand their sons? Or that, Ron will exclaim about how similarly geeky Hermione and Draco’s son are? These small moments – and not the big, but frankly; bordering-on-the-ridiculous Time Turner plot – that makes this book worth reading and cherishing – Reading about both Hermione struggling to balance work and home, Harry getting dreams about his childhood with the Dursleys, Ron finally learning how to be expressive about his feelings towards Hermione and Draco struggling with the process of grieving.

I devoured the book in a few hours (well, obviously!) and as the book neared its last few pages with a very familiar scene from the past, I wished it was a few pages longer. A few more scenes with the trio+Ginny+Draco as parents, as colleagues, as friends, as former Hogwarts students…. Sigh, how much I’ve missed reading about these fictional characters 😦

[ARC Review] The Infinity of You & Me – By J.Q. Coyle

Rating:

Hardcover:  256 pages
Expected publication: November 8th 2016
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Note: I won an ARC of this book via Goodreads giveaways. Would like to thank the publishers!!
Buy Links:

Kindle      Hardcover

Synopsis

What if every life-altering choice you made could split your world into infinite worlds?

Almost fifteen, Alicia is smart and funny with a deep connection to the poet Sylvia Plath, but she’s ultimately failing at life. With a laundry list of diagnoses, she hallucinates different worlds—strange, decaying, otherworldly yet undeniably real worlds that are completely unlike her own with her single mom and one true friend. In one particularly vivid hallucination, Alicia is drawn to a boy her own age named Jax who’s trapped in a dying universe. Days later, her long-lost father shows up at her birthday party, telling her that the hallucinations aren’t hallucinations, but real worlds; she and Jax are bound by a strange past and intertwining present. This leads her on a journey to find out who she is while trying to save the people and worlds she loves. J.Q. Coyle’s The Infinity of You & Me is a wild ride through unruly hearts and vivid worlds guaranteed to captivate.

My thoughts

I think I must be going through a blogger’s block because I am really struggling to come up with complete reviews these days. So I thought I will do something different this time:

multiverse Alicia finds out that the world contains NOT a universe but a multiverse and that all her nightmares are actually real lives and scenarios playing out. It took some time for me to realize a basic fact – what makes her special is not that she has different selves, but that she has the ability to consciously flit between the bodies of all her selves. She has the “awareness” that there are more lives of hers out there. The term for such people is – Spandrel (this is an actual word in English, btw). This was interesting and in some ways reminded me of another genre – time-travel. Now, time-travel is something that I have slowly gotten familiar with, atleast familiar with some “rules” that a lot of authors employ. For example, your past and present selves can’t meet without bad consequences.  But with multiverse being new to me, and with this book being a standalone (?), I felt that there was probably too much of complications packed in. This is not exactly a criticism. Considering it is a standalone, I felt the authors did a really good job staging everything. But there were a few things which could have made better sense if brought up by Alicia. Like for example, why didn’t she ever question anyone what will happen if people’s two selves meet? For most of the book I thought maybe that is not even possible because, from what I had understood this is not like time-travel but alternate realities. So, I thought maybe two selves meeting each other isn’t a possibility. But, something like that actually happens with a character in the end. But Alicia isn’t freaked out or wondering at all. I was surprised she wasn’t curious what would happen in such a case. I felt that is such a big thing to be sprung out at us in the end without any explanation as to how that works. Apart from these issues, I found it quite entertaining and fun to read. And may I say, despite all the problematic logic, I understood this better (whatever was put on paper) than a time-travel fiction I read earlier this year.

diversity.jpgAlicia’s best friend is Hafeez, an American-born of Pakistani descent. I rarely come across best friends of South Asian ethnicity in the books I read. Since the focus isn’t really on Hafeez or his family in this book, we don’t get to know much from his POV. But still, I liked how his family’s background and what he might have gone through all his life was subtly incorporated.

parenting.jpgAlicia has been diagnosed with everything you can think of when one says “mental health” – from ADD and anxiety to hallucinations and paranoia. She struggles to make daily decisions and it is so severe that the thought of choosing from the cafeteria menu can trigger a panic attack. So, I found it ironical that the one decision that Alicia is sure of – accept what she can do and be in a multiverse – is not met with encouragement but resistance by her mother.  However, truth be told, I could see where her mother was coming from. It is a pretty perplexing way to live. Moreover, I could understand why she didn’t want to lose a “single” Alicia to someone with knowledge of her different selves.

eternityIn the book, we see a character that set off a chain of unfortunate events with the intention of doing the right thing. But, I found it interesting that the “selflessness” was borne out of the knowledge that the person can have or branch into many selves and a “sacrifice” in one branch of life is palatable when you can live a “happily-ever-after” version in another branch.  But, the character is never really able to create or live a proper and fulfilling “family life” because the other participant is tired of inhabiting different realities and abandons the idea. So the character creates a partial reality that plays out the desired phase of life. It was honestly kind of sad to read about because the whole scene was set up like a doomed end to an incomplete love story.

final.jpgThis wasn’t perfect and there were couple of other things that I felt could have been dealt with better:

  • Addressing mental health – I would have liked it if a clear distinction was made between the symptoms manifesting as a result of what Alicia was actually suffering from all her “universal” life and the symptoms which were a result of her turning into a spandrel. The way it was explained, it looked like everything was because she was turning into a spandrel and that she never really had any mental health disorders in the first place.
  • Love Interests – There are teens developing crushes and falling in love, but that made no difference or impact on the story whatsoever. Alicia is attracted to the boy – Jax – from her “dream” from the first time she sets her eyes on him and well, it is clear that this is the “REAL” love story (and not Alicia-Hafeez, because, well, of course Hafeez being the best friend will be friend-zoned). But it didn’t make any impression on me whatsoever. I didn’t care whether they would get their happily-ever-after or not.

But.. but… but… despite all crinkles, I really enjoyed the book. It was wildly entertaining and imaginative.  I had so much to think about and say once I finished reading, so I couldn’t wait to start typing and get out of my reviewing block!

[Book Spotlight] The Urban Boys : Discovery of the Five Senses (Volume 1)

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Author: K.N. Smith
Genre: Action Adventure/ Paranormal
Publisher: Two Petals Publishing
Release Date: September, 2015

Synopsis:

The Urban Boys: Discovery of the Five Senses is an action-adventure story about five teen boys who are mysteriously exposed to a foreign energy source that gives them extremely heightened senses. Sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell become hypersensitive gifts that forever change the world!

The story chronicles their effortless interrelations and later exposes the testing of their deep bonds, and introduces the reader to an array of supporting characters who alter the boys’ lives forever. The Urban Boys offers young and mature readers central themes of loyalty, responsibility, honesty, fear, and triumph, which become artfully integrated with cinematic-level action and high drama.

We wonder, will they pass the test of fate, and will each of us pass the test of our very own lives? Intriguing, intelligent, and full of action, The Urban Boys offers a memorable, emotion-packed, thrilling ride for traditional and digital readers of all ages! (first in a series)

About the Author:

K.N. Smith K.N. Smith is an American author and passionate advocate of childhood and family literacy programs throughout the world. She continues to inspire students of all ages to reach their highest potential in their literary and educational pursuits. Her creative, lyrical flair sweeps across pages that twist, turn, and grind through elements of paranormal and action-adventure in diverse, exciting, edge-of-your-seat narratives. She lives with her family in California.

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