This is the first book in the Tudor Witch trilogy. I was mainly attracted to this book because of the setting. I haven’t read any book set in t2.5 / 5
This is the first book in the Tudor Witch trilogy. I was mainly attracted to this book because of the setting. I haven’t read any book set in the Tudor era as it seems very complicated to me but I felt this would be a good introduction to it. Besides I love reading about witches.
The witch in this book is Meg who is working as a maid in the isolated Woodstock for the exiled Lady Elizabeth. It’s also a dangerous time as the king of Spain is going to marry the Queen and Catholicism is sweeping the country. It’s also not a safe time for withes as the punishment, if found, is death. Meg has to be very careful as she works for Elizabeth, whose mother Anne Boleyn was sentenced for being a witch; any suspicion on Meg would also put Elizabeth’s life in danger.
Thrown into the story are also Marcus Dent who is a witchfinder and a young Spanish priest Alejandro.
As I mentioned before I liked the setting, it kept me interested in the story. I also like the witch hunting part. It is scary to think that these things actually happened to innocent people. Halfway through the book though I felt like I was reading a romance novel. In spite of many things happening in the book, the plot felt a little loose to me. The witch part of Meg is not really explored much in the novel, but I suspect it’s kept for the sequels.
I also found Elizabeth more intriguing than Meg. Since it’s a first person narrative, Meg comes across as a naïve, simple teenager, which is probably not what the author was going for. It also makes for a very superficial read where none of the characters are explored properly.
Overall though, it was a quick and pleasant read but I’m not sure I will read the sequel.
If you are looking for better YA novel with similar themes, The Witching Hour and Time of the Witches are better choices in my opinion....more
Selkie Girl is a story set in Shapinsay Island which is one of the Orkney Islands off the north coast of mainland Scotland. This story is inspired bySelkie Girl is a story set in Shapinsay Island which is one of the Orkney Islands off the north coast of mainland Scotland. This story is inspired by Selkie legends where a Selkie is a creature that is half human and half Seal.
Elin Jean has always felt like an outcast in her village. She has fingers which are connected by thin webs that make her the object of ridicule in the village. She spends most of her time in isolation seeking solace from the Ocean. She lives with her parents and her grandfather. But no one has ever been open to her about why she is so different from the others.
She would come to know in time, yes, but it will change her life, turn it upside down and will lead her on a journey into the unknown. She will have to find a purpose and a place to belong.
Selkie Girl is a magical book. The setting is beautiful and mythical. Laurie Brooks writing creates an imagery so vivid that you can feel and imagine the vastness of the ocean, the horror of the seals fate, the beauty of the land and Elin Jean’s struggle to belong either on land or in the sea. The author has taken the Selkie legend and turned it into something else.
I could give you one example of the beautiful writing here:
"Here is a roaring power to be reckoned with, this channel where the North Sea meets the mighty Atlantic. At odds with each other, the two bodies collide, churning into waves that can rise to forty feet. As change-able as the weather that reigns over it, the channel rests, mild as a newborn lamb, until the wind shifts it into raging tides that can catch the most experienced sailor unawares. And in a storm, the waves stretch as tall as mountains, white peaks battling for domain over the waterway. Even the thought of these storms humbles the others. What the sea gives up, it must take away, they say. And the truth of those words is born of bitter experience. Each year families lose fishermen to the sea, gobbles up in the wild storms, bodies lost forever beneath the tides."
And although the writing is beautiful, it can be a bit too wordy at times.
"Grandpa blows rings of smoke, one inside the next. He sends the ovals toward the ceiling, and they follow willingly until they collide with the lingering haze from the cooking fire above and their perfect circles distort and disappear."
The first half was a bit slow for me but I raced through the second half not wanting to finish the book but also wanting to know what happens. Again a Young Adult book that can easily be a crossover.
Having said the above, I believe I have reasons for loving this book more than I expect others to. I LOVE the ocean and that’s probably why I could understand the endless pages describing Elin Jean’s pull to the ocean, her reasons being different than mine though. I love books set in lush, green surroundings, if it’s an island it’s a plus, if the island is in Scotland or Ireland, even better. And finally, I love books based on legends, myths or fairy tales. All I want to say is that these are also some of the factors that have lead me to like this book. That’s all....more
When I read the words ‘China’ and ‘travelogue’ together, I instantly gravitate towards it. And the events in this book take place in 1986 when China wWhen I read the words ‘China’ and ‘travelogue’ together, I instantly gravitate towards it. And the events in this book take place in 1986 when China was only recently open for travel to foreigners. I went to Shanghai and Beijing about a year back and even now, it’s very difficult to communicate because other than the hotel staff no one spoke English. We faced a bit of difficulty traveling as we had to write down the name of places in Chinese and also take the map along with us. Going anywhere impromptu was out of the question.
So when Susan and Claire decide to go travel the world for a year and choose China as their destination, I was equally fascinated and weary considering the state of the country back then.This travelogue is funny and raw and honest. Susan accepts that they both didn’t know what they were doing. They were in a land about which they knew nothing. They were afraid and lonely. I expected a typical self-absorbed backpacker travelogue where they hook up with other backpackers, have drunken nights, break the rules and finally get enlightened by the meaning of life and happiness.
We had assumed, of course, that traveling would elevate us to a higher level of consciousness, that by backpacking through china, we’d absorb great wisdom the way a chunk of bread might soak up a plate full of sauce-that our minds would dilate with insight-and wherever we went, we’d sprout razor-sharp cultural observations worthy of great philosophers. Instead, as we trudged around Shanghai the next few days, our thoughts became nearly per-verbal: can I eat that? This is itchy. I need to pee.
I was so wrong.
First off, traveling with a non-compatible traveler, that too around the world, can be taxing. And if you are naive, fresh out of college and not broad-minded enough, it can be a nightmare. When Susan and Claire reach Hong Kong, they are tired and frustrated by the lack of descent food, descent place to stay and lack of western amenities. Soon they venture into China and they start getting homesick and frustrated not only with China but also with each other. The book, in the beginning is funny and light and a pleasure to read. But as their whining and their frustration increases, I became increasingly irritated by the fact that they didn’t seem to realize what a great opportunity they had to set foot in a place where very few people had before. They look down upon everyone and everything and behave like spoiled princesses.
The story builds up slowly but steadily until the very end where it becomes supremely difficult to put the book down until you know what happened next. Both the girls fall into a spiral of confusion and frustration until a series of terrifying events force Susan to take action. Susan is from a poor family in New York and says she’s lived in difficult and dangerous situations back home, but to me she doesn’t seem prepared one bit. I could chalk it down to her not being able to understand the language and the people but she is plain and simply selfish. I felt like whacking her several times.
But one thing you cannot fault in Susan is her honesty. She could have easily turned this into a story of adventure where they came out unscathed to tell the story to the world. But at that point she had just given up. In hindsight, she realizes what she has seen and experienced was no less unique and a privilege. And the fact that they both came out of a terrifying situation which could have turned into a nightmare was no less than a miracle.
The authors writing is fluid and she brings to life the streets and people of China in 1986. Her observations are astute although influenced by the girl she was back then. Her hindsight 20 years later helps give more perspective and details than it might if she had written the book immediately after returning to America.
Despite all my frustrations with the book, or maybe because of it and how involved I became in their lives for that short time, ‘Undress me in the temple of heaven‘ will be one of my favorite travel memoirs ever....more
I was excited when I saw a graphic novel written by Audrey Niffenegger at the library, so I immediately checked it out. Unfortunately I was really disI was excited when I saw a graphic novel written by Audrey Niffenegger at the library, so I immediately checked it out. Unfortunately I was really disappointed with the book. The graphics were normal, not bad , but nothing to talk about either.
The Night Bookmobile is about a young woman who finds a night bookmobile when roaming the streets one night after having a fight with her husband. She is surprised to find all the books that she has ever read in her life in the bookmobile. I wont tell you what happened because it’s a small book and it would probably spoil it for you. But suffice to say that I didn’t like what happened after that.
It’s one thing to love books, even to be passionate about them but I found this to be too much. I believe everything is good in moderation, until it doesn’t overtake the other aspects of your life. The blurb by Neil Gaiman on the back cover of the book says “a cautionary fantasia for anyone who has ever loved books“. Even though I’m obviously a book lover this doesn’t really ring true for me. Also, I felt it was too short a book to connect with any of the characters, I finished it in less than half an hour.
In short, there is nothing that I really liked about this book except the concept of stumbling across a library that will hold all the books you’ve ever read in your life. I feel like I should have liked this book but maybe I missed something. It definitely wasn’t for me....more
There are 2 things you should know before I start this review. 1) What is Xanadu: It’s a place in inner Mongolia which had the summer palace of Khublai Khan who was the grandson of the greatest ruler of Mongolia, Genghis Khan. 2) Who is Marco Polo: Marco Polo was a traveller and merchant who travelled to China and Mongolia somewhere between 1271 and 1295 alon with his father and Uncle. When he went back to Venice, where he’d come from, he wrote a book about his travels called Travels of Marco Polo. The author relied on this book while writing Daughter of Xanadu.
Lets get to the book now. This book is about a teenage girl called Emmajin who was the grand daughter of Khublai Khan. She was unlike other royal princesses who simply wanted to enjoy the comforts of palace and laze around the whole day and just be content with a life of doing nothing. Our Emmajin wanted to be a warrior, she wanted to fight for the great Khan and return home victorious after defeating the enemies of Mongolia. She wanted to help the Khan achieve the goal of ruling over the entire world. At least that’s what she thought she wanted to do.
Enter young Marco Polo. The Khan was not very sure of the agenda of these European merchants so he assigned Emmajin to befriend them and spy on them. Morco Polo has the exact opposite views than Emmajin. He thinks people should exist in the world peacefully and that all this war and occupying other countries was unnecessary. Of course Emmajin disagreed with him. All she wanted to was fight in a war.
So this is the basic premise. What attracted me to this book in the first place was that it was set in Mongolia. There aren’t many YA books that are set in Mongolia. And also that it was historical fiction.
I thought the first part was slow without much action. The author was basically building up Emmajin’s character and her background. Also, this was the part where Morco Pola nd Emmajin got to know each other and were attracted to each other, at least on a superficial level. The second half is where the action starts, when they travel to these remotest parts of Mongolia and China on a mission. This was my favorite part,the lands they crossed, the people they met, the adventures they had (not spoiling anything here) and how Emmajin and her relationship with Morco Polo changed because of all this.
There is only one thing I disliked in the novel. Emmajin never existed. Morco Polo did not meet anyone in Mongolia and fell in love with, at least none that is documented. I don’t mind introducing new supporting characters and new situations to build a story but I definitely have a problem when 2 of the main characters are fictional (namely Emmajin and her cousin). It kind of negates the whole romance for me.
But overall I really liked the book. I liked reading about Mongolia and their customs. I also liked reading about how it might have been for Morco Polo in ancient times. I loved that I got to learn a bit about history. I definitely recommend reading this book....more
The Mist was first published in Dark Forces Anthology and then in Skeleton Crew as a novella. I picked this up from the Library because I loved CarrieThe Mist was first published in Dark Forces Anthology and then in Skeleton Crew as a novella. I picked this up from the Library because I loved Carrie and kind of liked The Eyes of the Dragon and I wanted to read more by this author. But The Mist seems like a wrong choice now. Not because it was bad or anything but because it was forgettable. I finished this novel just yesterday after taking almost 20 days to read it in parts. It was interesting but not unputdownable and definitely not anything unique. Probably if I had read this book some years back, maybe 30 years or so, it would have been very different. But wait, I wasn’t even born then. Wait, even the book wasn’t published then. Never Mind.
Anyway…lets see if I can explain the plot in short. David and his 5 year old son are stuck in a supermarket when a Mist like thing suddenly engulfs everything outside the store and strange things start happening. There are weird creatures that come from the mist and eat those who are within their grasp. Nobody knows what these things are and from where they originated. There are hints of some government project gone horribly wrong but obviously nobody is really sure.The rest of the book is basically how they struggle to stay alive and try to figure a way out of the supermarket.
I believe there are too many Hollywood movies out there with a similar theme. So the novelty of this concept was lost on me. It felt like an age old formula for a gross story. There were a couple of times I was really scared, especially at the end but mostly I was pretty meh with the whole horror factor.
The Mist was good for entertaining for a few hours but I’m not sure I’ll recommend this. You might as well buy Skeleton Crew and get a few other stories with it instead of buying this separately....more
I picked this book because I love reading anything and everything about witches and witch trials. Also it’s set in 17th century Scotland which is justI picked this book because I love reading anything and everything about witches and witch trials. Also it’s set in 17th century Scotland which is just icing on the cake. The Witching Hour is not about witches or witch trials entirely though. It’s about a girl called Maggie who lives on the Isle of Bute with her grandmother who is bitter and angry with life and all that fate has done to her. She can’t help but turn all the hate on the neighbors and the people around her. When one of the new-born dies, his father accuses Maggie’s grandmother of witchcraft and since most of the people don’t have very high opinion of her, she is branded as a witch and burned. Maggie would have been burned too if not for Tam, a family friend.
Maggie manages to run away to her dead father’s brother who lives with his family in Ladymuir. Although he welcomes Maggie in his house and family he has his own problems to deal with. It’s the time when the King wants to replace God in the churches of Scotland and establish himself as the supreme leader. But many people, including her uncle’s family, is opposed to it. They have their secret meetings and sermons. When the King’s men arrest people from the town who have not been co-operating with the King, all hell breaks loose. Maggie has to leave her safe heaven and embark on a journey and put everything she has on risk.
There are a lot of things I loved about this book. First and foremost is the setting. The author Elizabeth Laird describes the time and the place so beautifully that you can’t help feel like you’re actually there experiencing it all with Maggie. I loved the Island of Bute and loved traveling with Maggie across Scotland. It’s as good as it gets where traveling via fiction is considered. I also loved Maggie and how she learned from the mistakes her grandmother made, and how even though she necessarily wasn’t always righteous, she had a good and brave heart.
I learned a lot of things about Scotland that I didn’t know before and although I don’t really understand all the religious details and intricacies, I had a good time getting immersed in the story of Maggie. It’s a Young Adult book but it’s also a book which adults can enjoy thoroughly. The Witching Hour goes way beyond a teenage girl’s story.
The only thing I didn’t like about the book was the length. There were a few dry spots in it and I guess it would have worked best if the book was cut short by a few pages. But other than that I heartily recommend this book...more
I love reading everything paranormal. I have watched a lot of documentaries that deal with searching or proving the existence of Paranormal entities.I love reading everything paranormal. I have watched a lot of documentaries that deal with searching or proving the existence of Paranormal entities. So when I saw this book in the library I was instantly attracted to it. The book is Redfern’s account of the 5 years he spent in America chasing after monsters like bigfoot, Chupacabras, Moth-Man and others.
The book begins when Nick flies to the U.S for a conference where he meets his would be wife Dana for the first time. After a while they get married and they decide to stay in the Texas, U.S. for some time. He spends most of his time attending conferences. Now his research, or at least what he writes in his book, is mostly visiting the places where the monster was seen, talking to people who had seen them and also talking to people who have written books about them or are researching about them.
I didn’t feel there was anything new in this book. The back of the book says But do such creatures really exist? Can it be true that our planet is home to fantastic beasts that lurk deep within its forests and waters? Memoirs of a Monster Hunter proves the answer is a resounding yes!
ummm…well, not really. At no point it’s actually proved that anything is real. Nor does the author ever comes across such creatures, at least not in this book. He does come across something called as Ghost lights and he claims to have seen them and taken a picture. But for some reason, he does not include the photo of the only possibly paranormal thing he has seen. And it’s not like there are no photos in the book. I’m just confused about why he wouldn’t include that photo, that’s all.
But the book is an easy read and is not boring for most of the time. I liked reading about conferences and such and how seriously all this monster hunting and UFO thing is taken. The books as a whole had little substance and the only chapters I enjoyed reading were the ones about Chupacabras in Puerto Rico. The author calls Chupacabras vampires because they suck the blood out of the animals and leaves 2 holes on the neck. I loved this section because it was new to me and the setting of Puerto Rico was marvelous. But again, all he does is go around interviewing people and visiting places and not proving or even trying to prove anything.
With a bit of effort he could have proved or at least made an effort to find some solid evidence. For e.g. when he found the place which the goat man had possibly marked as his lair, how difficult was it to place a camera all night at the place or even stay overnight? But he says he did not have the time. Because seems like most of his time was spent in attending conferences or hopping from one place to another. At one point he did not go to an actual site where he and his friends were going to stay overnight to see if they could find anything, but preferred to interview some person who had probably seen something years back. I mean seriously?
To me, it didn’t seem like he was actually interested to study the monsters in-depth. He was just there for the ride. Memoirs of a Monster Hunter was disappointing. And I don’t even want to start about how he was shamelessly plugging his other books throughout. Sigh....more
Sea is about a 15-year-old girl Sienna who lives with her father and grandmother in U.S.A. She lost her mother in a plane crash a few years back. SheSea is about a 15-year-old girl Sienna who lives with her father and grandmother in U.S.A. She lost her mother in a plane crash a few years back. She has serious emotional issues which were the result of her mother’s death. Then she accompanies her father to Indonesia to work with the Tsunami orphans, she is instantly attracted to an Orphan boy Deni who is playing the drums for their welcome ceremony. I found the instant attraction weird. There is nothing that really makes him stand out other than his strong muscles under his tight shirt. I do understand his appeal later on since he seems to be the leader of the other boys and keeps passing deep, dark looks to Sienna. She’s a teenager after all, she’s bound to fall for that.
Anyway, as Sienna gets to know more about the orphan kids and the things they lost, her own sorrow seems very small to her. She works on her father’s team with the kids suffering from Post Traumatic stress disorder. This is the really sad part of the story-reading about children having to watch their entire families swept away. It’s heart breaking.
As a novel, what worked for me in Sea was the setting. I don’t think there are many YA novels that are set internationally. It feels like the author has actually been to Indonesia in the way she describes the landscape, the people and the customs. What didn’t work for me was believing that a boy from a village could speak English so fluently. We have been to Indonesia twice and we’ve had a really tough time communicating with the locals since very few know how to speak English.
If I decide to overlook that I still have a couple of things I didn’t like. Sienna-I didn’t like her and I didn’t understand her. She was stupid and irresponsible and there are only so many things you can excuse for being a teenager. If I was her father I would have grounded her for life. Another thing I didn’t like was the ending. It kind of negated the entire romance between Sienna and Deni for me. I can’t really tell you why without spoiling the end..
But, Sea has its appeal. Even though I didn’t love it, I know there are readers who might love this book....more
Candor is a dystopian novel that reminded me of The Stepford Wives, but thankfully the author has a unique take on it. Candor is a town in Florida whiCandor is a dystopian novel that reminded me of The Stepford Wives, but thankfully the author has a unique take on it. Candor is a town in Florida which is supposedly a heaven for parents. It’s a town where children don’t disobey, they don’t drink or smoke or do drugs, they do their homework and they maintain a respectable distance from girls. Only this heaven is creating by messing with the kids brains, by feeding messages to their unsuspecting minds. The founder of Candor thinks everything is going well but there is one person who knows about it and is doing everything to save himself from it. And it’s none other than his son, Oscar.
Oscar protects himself by creating his own messages and feeding them to himself so he does not turn into the Condor robot kids. He also helps rich kids realize they are being manipulated and help them escape for a huge fee. All his plans start falling apart when a rebellious girl Nia comes to town. He is completely smitten by her and her uniqueness and he wants to keep it that way. He does not want Nia to change.
The story was pretty slow up to this point. I was reading and wondering what is about this book that people are raving about so much. I honestly didn’t get it for the longest time. But the last 100 pages more or less made up for it. It was awesome and mind-blowing if only for that part. But it was worth it.
I liked Oscar and loved that he was not perfect. He wasn’t a caricature, he did what he could to stay sane. He also learned to profit from it. For me that was refreshing. Nia was forgettable, I couldn’t really get her appeal but it could be that she was still an original among so many robots. Did I tell you the end was amazing? Pam Bachorz’s second book Drought has just released but it’s not a sequel to Candor. But there has to be a sequel to this and it has to release soon....more
“It is worth remembering that when, as a society, we deem something absolutely necessary to beauty or happiness, some people will do absolutely anythi“It is worth remembering that when, as a society, we deem something absolutely necessary to beauty or happiness, some people will do absolutely anything to obtain it.”-Note at the end of book by the author.
This sentence more or less sums up what this book is about. Like me, don’t get fooled with the cover and think it’s a historical bodice ripper. It’s far from that. It’s about Clara Carter and Lizzie, both 17 years old, entering their first season in New York. If you’ve read enough bodice rippers or historical YA, you’ll know what a season is. But you won’t find any handsome rake here. What you will get though are the De Vries brothers, Franklin and Harry. Franklin is the elder brother and hence the heir. So Clara, Lizzie and mostly all the girls debuted that season have their eyes set upon him.
Clara though is a little different from most of these girls. Her mother died when she was very young, her father is a famous physician who wants to restore his wealth, position and take revenge from the De Vries because they lost all their money in the panic as it was deposited in the De Vris bank. Clara wants to marry for love and although she doesn’t want to adorn herself with heavy dresses and heavy ornaments and doesn’t want to wear a tight corset to reduce her waist to 16 inches, she doesn’t have any choice. She doesn’t rebel because she loves her father and she wants to make him happy.
Along the way though, she discovers the value of friendship, that God will accept you as you are and all this glitter and glam is nothing more than a show. In the process of capturing Franklin’s heart and getting a proposal out of him she also discovers that marriage has to based on love.
The author Siri Mitchell has highlighted the extent to which women in the Victorian age went to achieve that perfect 16 inch waist and to get a lifetime of wealth and privilege. Even though this book is set in the Victorian times we still have the same problems in our society today to some extent. That’s probably why we have models who are all skin and bones and have shows like Bridalplasty.
Although I love romances, I loved how it’s not the main focus of this novel. It’s more of a coming of age story, of breaking the bonds that society has set for us and of differentiating between the right and wrong. I loved how the novel preaches without actually preaching. I thought the book a was bit slow at first because I was expecting a romance novel but sometime after 100 pages I looked at one of the blurbs on the front cover and realized that this was Christian fiction. Any complaints I have for this book are because I was expecting something else, so I wouldn’t really mention them here.
All in all a very satisfying read. Siri Mitchell is a very talented writer and I look forward to reading more books by her....more
I had very low expectations from this book but it ended up surprising me. The Great Elephant Escape is about a German woman Antoinette who volunteeredI had very low expectations from this book but it ended up surprising me. The Great Elephant Escape is about a German woman Antoinette who volunteered in an Elephant Park in Thailand and ended up organizing a ‘Bring the Elephant home’ campaign. Antoinette loved elephants and empathized with their situation in Thailand. She wanted to do more than volunteer and that’s when she came up with the project. The book chronicles her and her teams journey through Thailand with the rescued Elephants. The goal of the project was to make people aware of the plight of the elephants.
Today Elephants in Thailand are mainly used for begging and tourism purposes. There are Elephant shows, Elephant rides and the works. But there are also elephants that work in the logging industry. Violent measures are usually used to train them and they are often not treated well. With deforestation, the elephant owners have little to feed their elephants, so they have to resort to take them to the cities to beg or use them in the logging industry.
Antoinette begins her project by raising money which seems a lot more difficult than she imagined. A lot of things that could go wrong did go wrong during the planning of this project. But as the project progressed there was also a lot of support and awareness created about the Elephants and their plight. The author takes you through Thailand with her and lets you experience the frustration of dealing with the Thai bureaucracy, the sorrow of seeing the plight of these majestic animals and the happiness of finally doing something for them.
The writing if not very literary is good enough to pull you into the book without any distractions. Antoinette seems like a genuine person who poured her heart and soul into this project. I highly recommend this book to those who are interested in memoirs or Elephants....more