I don't know where to start with this book. It is a fucked up book about two really screwed up people faced with screwed up life situations. What I reI don't know where to start with this book. It is a fucked up book about two really screwed up people faced with screwed up life situations. What I really loved about the book is how well the author has created all the characters, how human. I could actually see them enacting the book for me.
Another thing I loved is the insight one gets into the mind of a psychopath, and how the character becomes what s(he) is due to their upbringing.
In the end, the talent of the author is in the fact that I am left with a tiny bit of feeling, where I feel sorry for them.
The ending of the book left me with a feeling of despair and hope at the same time. I think that is really difficult to capture.
Overall, I'd recommend the book to anyone who is able to handle reading about really and completely screwed up but brilliant characters....more
The Riyria Revelations follows the exploits of a unique couple of friends. They are unique in the sense, that one of them is a talented thief while the other is a former mercenary adept at warfare. They are famous (or notorious, as the case may be) for taking on the toughest jobs, which no one else will touch, and succeeding at them. Both the books in the Theft of Swords omnibus have such jobs as the starting point. Their reputation of being invincible has been carefully developed by the author. It really seems that this reputation is well-deserved as we see them getting out of impossibly difficult situations with skill and a lot of luck.
Both the books have an amazing adventure, which in itself would make a great story. But, what improves both of them further is the numerous threads which start off from the stories and paint a picture of the direction in which the series will run. In the first book, Royce and Hadrian take a job and step into a trap. They end up getting blamed for the king’s assassination, but somehow escape. This is where their adventure begins which takes them on a journey which ends right back where they started. In the second book, they go to help a young girl save her father from a monster. This again takes them on an adventure where a lot of the characters from the previous book return and they finally end up defeating the monster with their friends’ help.
There are quite a few points I love about the books. One is that even though Royce and Hadrian are on the ‘wrong’ side, being thieves, they always end up doing the right thing, to a great extent due to Hadrian’s conscience. Another great thing is all the fight sequences in the books. Swordplay can be extremely difficult to get right, and an author can end up describing too much or too little of it. But, here Michael Sullivan gets the balance just right and these are a pleasure to read. Hadrian’s skill shines through in oodles of grace and talent. But by far the best thing about the book is the relationship of Hadrian and Royce. I really liked the banter they have and the jabs they keep taking at each other which makes them immensely likable. They both complement each other beautifully and together they make a really scary duo against whom few could stand a chance. Their relationship has been nurtured and developed over years of knowing and trusting each other. They both share a will to survive and a murky past. The mystery behind their pasts has been kept rigorously under wraps, and this is one revelation that could really charge up the series.
Personally, I believe that Orbit has got it absolutely right in creating this omnibus. As a standalone story, the first book, ‘The Crown Conspiracy’ is very interesting but does little to introduce the reader to the story arc of the series. Although the main characters get defined here, there isn’t enough there to judge what role they will play in the series, or how important they will be. The first book, to me seemed more like a preamble to the series, as some of the main characters in the series get introduced in the second book of this omnibus. Also, there are not many fantasy elements in this book and it reads more like an adventure.
The second book in the omnibus, ‘Avempartha’ does more to introduce the reader to the series. It is here that the real story begins to get developed and readers start getting a sense of where the story is heading. All the fantasy elements shine through and the huge history behind the world becomes apparent. I have to say, the author refrains in overwhelming the readers with a history lesson and just enough information is given out, so that the events taking place currently can be put into perspective. We can see glimpses of how all the diverse characters with such diverse backgrounds such as a princess, a thief, a mercenary and a poor girl living in the middle of nowhere come together.
All the traditional fantasy races of elves, dwarves and wizards make an appearance in the books. As usual dwarves are highly talented at stone work, elves have their magic and really long lives, and wizards are the masters of all things magical. All the fantasy elements start to become apparent in Avempartha as the book has a number of fantasy creatures, has magic in it, we come to see some of the characters in a new light and finally get to understand how the story might progress. By the end of the second book we can hazard a guess about who will be playing crucial roles in the coming books. I can see both Arista and Thrace being a strong part of the next books. It was after I finished reading Avempartha that my mind started putting together my version of the coming story. There are a lot of amazing supporting characters in the series, but they are just too many to name, though Esrahaddon, the wizard and Myron should get a definite mention here.
The world created by the author is extremely diverse, detailed and complex. There are a large number of small and big empires all jostling for their space in the world with each following a different political system. This is where the detail of the world really shines. There are empires ruled by kings, democracies, those administered by the church and some which have no ‘government’ at all. They all do have a common history and were once part of an empire which controlled the entire world.
There are no good or bad guys in the books in the traditional sense, which may seem completely wrong to the die-hard fantasy fans. There is no evil mastermind against whom the world is rallying. No doubt, there are a lot of grey characters, and they do a lot of ‘bad’ things. But their motivations may not be all bad (atleast at this point it seems so. Of course, I do not have enough information to judge a character based on these two books alone). There is always a doubt whether to put a character in the in the ‘good’ or ‘bad’ category. I don’t think this will be cleared till the series actually ends.
It is by conscious effort that I am refraining from discussing the plots of the two books too much. All I can say is that this is a mighty fine introduction to the series. I can’t wait to get to the next book. This book does a great job at getting the readers interested in the series. With such beautiful writing and clearly defined characters, there isn’t much here that I do not love. This is definitely in five-star category and I just hope the other books, which I still have to read, are just as good....more
I have lived in Mumbai all my life and I am someone who is used to everything that this city has to throw at me. By this, I mean that I fail to reallyI have lived in Mumbai all my life and I am someone who is used to everything that this city has to throw at me. By this, I mean that I fail to really see the city and everything that is wrong with it. I am immune to the pain and the poverty, the recklessness and the “my d*ck is bigger than yours” attitude of the rich, the ineptitude of the politicians and the police. I am happy to travel in my air-conditioned car to work and back, making a living which can buy me the comforts of life.
So I was interested to see what happens when the tottering city finally collapses. And this book brings it out perfectly. Under the garb of a fast-paced YA thriller, the author writes a story which goes beyond that and removes the gloss and shine which the city is always bathed in to show us what is truly possible.
The characters are pretty well developed, though the book left a lot of questions unanswered, not just in how things end, but also about each of the characters’ lives. I am sure all of this is something which will be revealed in the coming books. I have found out that there is a very short piece put up by the author on the main character which presents some of the back story. That, I suppose should also help.
The broad story line is not something which is unique, really. Boy and girl travelling through a crumbling city to stop the evil before it can strike is something which has already been done. What is unique is the really deep insight into the main character’s mind which the author is able to present through the use of first-person writing. It feels like you are in the mind of the character, and can literally taste her emotions.
The main character is like any other teen, rebellious and act-first-think-later. She seems quite immature at times, but is someone who is willing to take action and move ahead in the committed direction. Two things I would not have thought possible together, but which gel really well. The emotional turmoil she goes through is amazingly well brought out. I just loved how the book was able to place me solidly in her mind. There is so much potential here, I’d love to see where she goes from the end of the book.
The sights of the city are just breath-taking. Each new imagery evokes a sense of forlornness which is hard to keep in check. I think that the way the city is shown to react to the events which unfold in the book are quite right. I know that this is how things would unfold. There was a lot more which could have been shown, but I know that it would not really have added to the story meaningfully. The book made me wonder what I would do in such a situation. I think the people I know, me included, would take this sudden availability of free time by planning a holiday to one of the nearby getaways. You know, go stay in a nice 5-star hotel away from the city. This apathy to what happens to the city is something which the author is able to tap into.
The end was quite dramatic and wasn’t something I had expected, at all. It ended in absolutely the opposite direction of what I could have predicted. But, now that I think of it, I see that the ending was just perfect. It also leave me with a dramatic cliff-hanger and I really want to know what happens next. I do not want to give away anything from the book, and so will keep myself in check and not discuss this in the review, even though I am itching to.
Overall, a great start to the series, which leaves me wanting more. Definitely a series I am going to be following to the end....more
I read this after reading the main book in the series, The Many Lives of Ruby Iyer. I personally think this is a better way of doing things, but I amI read this after reading the main book in the series, The Many Lives of Ruby Iyer. I personally think this is a better way of doing things, but I am not a 100% sure.
This short book is an insight into the main character, and what are some of the things she has faced in her young life, which have made her what she is. Is it important to read this in conjunction with the main novel? I think so. It tells us about what makes Ruby tick.
Another thing I like about this is we get to know Ruby’s father somewhat, which is completely unexplored in the book. So does the personality of her mother become a little more concrete.
Each of the incidents in this book are extremely human in their portrayal. It makes you connect with the character and resolve a number of questions which are not completely explored in the main book.
If you want a flavour of the character of Ruby Iyer before picking up the main book, this is a perfect start. Also, if you want to look at what makes a teenager tick, this is a good book too.
In the end, who does not want to read the diary of a 16-year-old girl? :P...more
Who would have thought that I could read and enjoy a book written mainly for children! This is one book that will hold the attention of the most fidgeWho would have thought that I could read and enjoy a book written mainly for children! This is one book that will hold the attention of the most fidgety child and captivate and entertain them.
The ‘Kiwi’ series by author Vickie Johnstone revolves around Amy and James, two young children who own a cat named Kiwi. One night, as they see their cat outside staring at the moon, they go down and start following her, until she disappears in a cloud of purple smoke! As she returns and starts talking (Of course, a talking cat, this is a children’s book after all), she instructs the kids to do to mimic her and suddenly they find themselves turned into kittens and this is where their adventure begins.
Kiwi takes the new kittens to ‘Cat City’ which is quite similar to our world with cafes and shops, roads and cars and even a police station. This is the ‘double life of Kiwi, where she works as a detective. The trio is handed a case by Inspector Furrball as soon as they enter this new world, one involving ‘catnappings’. They are joined by the inspector’s nephew, Paws on this case. As they start investigating, a mystery evolves and the rest of the story is about how this unusual group solves this mystery.
This is a really clean mystery, you will not find people (oh sorry, cats) getting hurt. Even the guns are freeze guns to avoid any bloodshed. However, the suspense is amazingly created and maintained throughout the book. I was quite surprised to find myself not willing to put the book down. The mystery of the story has been really well designed and has enough twists to keep everyone guessing.
The author has modified a number of words enough to give them a ‘catty’ twist. This was something I found quite amusing and I liked the imagination it involved. Also the world, although familiar to us, is adapted for the cats that inhabit it. For example, you can find mouse treats and fish biscuits, milk instead of soft drinks, scratching posts and cat toys littered for their entertainment.
I was somewhat disappointed by the abrupt end, but knowing that this is a series, it is something I should have expected and accepted. I am not saying the mystery was not solved, but the author has left a few strands open to continue the series. I am amazed to be saying this, but I would love to continue reading about the new adventures these kids/kittens get into.
I can say that this would make an excellent book for parents to read along with their children. This is a great place to start to get children interested in reading and wean them away from Facebook television and their gaming boxes. ...more
The story of Angelfall is set in a post-apocalyptic period where the angels have begun to bring aboutOriginally posted on: Ritesh Kala's Book Reviews
The story of Angelfall is set in a post-apocalyptic period where the angels have begun to bring about the end of the world. However, the humans are ingenious and want to fight back and reclaim the earth. The book starts off with Penryn and her family consisting of her, her mother and her sister, trying to escape to a better place. During this journey, they witness a fight between a number of angels and as Penryn enters the thick of things to protect one of them, her sister gets abducted by one of them. The fight ends with an injured angel whose wings are cut off and stolen, and who is the only source of information for Penryn to find where the angels have taken her sister. This is where their journey begins, with each looking for something really important to them, which keeps them on the path, however difficult it may be.
This book is very different from the other YA books coming out right now. There is no love at first sight, and the girl is not helpless and in constant need of protection. Also, there are no fireworks when the two main characters meet (well, there are, but of a very different kind). This is what makes this book so much better. For a large part of the book, there is a lot of distrust between the main characters, and they work together only because they have to and it is in their best interest to do so. Their journey together is not because of puppy love, but because the circumstances dictate that they stay together, as each needs the other for their own purpose. This is not to say that there is no romance in this book. But it is something that develops naturally over time.
The author has created some really powerful characters. Each character’s motivations and mental makeup is clearly brought out, and this is something that makes the book wonderful. We are never left wondering why a character is acting out in a particular way even if they seem to be doing something insane. In fact, even the secondary characters have such depth that I was left with a feeling of having watched the story rather than having read it. For all the characters, I could easily see their thoughts and feel their emotions.
Penryn is a kickass heroine who is trained in a number of fighting techniques. This means she is not a helpless girl in need of someone to protect her from the dangers of this post-apocalyptic world. I did find her to be a bit too aggressive at times, diving into things with little thought due to her hot-headedness. She is also someone who has matured and grown up because of the necessity of taking care of her family. I loved that the author has created the perfect mix of toughness and vulnerability.
Raffe, the angel who is the other main character is portrayed as the ultimate warrior. He may be injured, but he is definitely not defenceless. Also, being an angel, he heals extremely quickly and has a store of energy which seems astounding. He is quite sarcastic, which created some really interesting dialogues.
The final big character in the book is Penryn’s mother. We do not know too much about her, which is something I would have liked to happen. She may be a schizophrenic who is trapped in a world where her personal monsters need to be feared and overcome on a daily basis. She is scary but is extremely loving at the same time. She seems to have superhuman abilities when she sets her mind to something. Her character is simply brilliant, both creepy and beautiful.
I liked how angels are portrayed in the book. Although they may be powerful enough to destroy entire cities, and bring utter mayhem to earth, they are not invincible. They are powerful in the sense that they have superhuman speed, strength, and a lot of other powers. Yet, the author does not make their bodies impenetrable, and they are susceptible to bullets. They are immortal, but only if they are not injured. They can be hurt and killed. This levels the playing field for the humans, and gives them a chance to fight back. This then becomes a fight between “David and goliath”.
I found myself comparing angels to humans all the time. They seem to have all the characteristics which humans have. They can fall in love, they can hate, they can be petty and they can be sarcastic. Also, their world seemed like a giant corporate machine, with God at the top like an all-powerful CEO, sending the word down to the top management, which then filters down to the minions. In this “handing down of the message”, words can take on new meaning or get lost altogether. There is also a lot of politics in their world, about who will be “promoted” and it seemed like a democracy where angels had to lobby to get the top job. All this, I think will play a very important role in the books to come. This is also the reason for the “Angelfall”.
The book is written in first person present tense. This was very well used in Hunger Games, and I think there are a few books which do better this way. This is definitely one of them. I did have to do a double-take for the first few pages while reading it, as I was a bit uncomfortable to begin with. But after I got used to it, I actually liked it. This has a lot of advantages. I think this style amps up the action in the book as you read the things happening “right now”. Also, from the narrator’s point of view, we can’t assume anything, as it gives the writer the leeway to kill off the protagonist if she likes, not that I see that happening in a book. I’d be really angry if that happened! This really put me in the thick of the action and I could feel all the things that were happening in the book. This was a big plus point.
There is a lot which is currently left to the reader’s imagination with little backstory besides what is really needed right now. Like, how did Penryn’s sister get disabled and what did her mother have to do with it? Why is her relationship with her mother so strained? What made her mother go crazy? What happened to her father? Why was the apocalypse brought about by the angels? What did Raffe do on earth as part of his work as an angel? All of this does not impact the story one bit and all these points are actually part of the backstory which has currently not been explored. But, these are things I hope the author gets to in the remaining books. However, I really can’t complain here as I think adding so many facts to the story would have completely killed the pacing.
I personally loved the ending of the book and don’t think the story could have finished any better. In the end, I am left with a lot of hope, a little despair and oodles of anticipation for the next book. I don’t think it can get any better!...more
Joe Café is a psychological drama involving four very different, yet equally disturbed characters. The main character is Chet who had a sordid past and entered the army to get away from it. This turned him into a killing machine. Something snapped in him, because of which he seems to now enjoy the mayhem. Sara, who is a dancer at a strip club, has an equally sorry past. Having the perfect life with loving parents, it all goes south when tragedy strikes. She starts dancing for a strip club but just cannot get out, even though she wants to. Dogan, the owner of the strip club is portrayed as a man of principles who will always end up doing the right thing. He is also deeply in love with Sara. Finally, there is Michael, a police officer who has a history with Chet.
The entire story revolves around Chet, a psychotic killer, who ends up killing four people in ‘Joe Café’ in the town where Michael is the sheriff, done in revenge against him. This is where the drama begins. He then moves on to abduct Sara while being in a drunken haze. The rest of the story is about the rescue of Sara and goes through quite a few twists, as mobsters and hitmen get involved in the rescue.
This is quite a short book, but I was amazed by in the deep character development which the author accomplishes here. This is sheer brilliance. We get to know each character’s circumstances, current situation and life’s various events which brought them to where they are. I think this is primarily what the book in about. It has been described as a thriller, but there aren’t any scenes where you find yourself holding your breadth, anticipating what happens next. Neither is it a suspense novel, as very little time is devoted to the actual mystery of finding Sara. I call is a psychological drama as we are given deep insights into each character. The author makes us feel their pain, their frustrations and their fears. And still, we end up liking them for what they are.
The beauty of the writing comes through as we see how each of the characters reacts to these events. The resolve of Sara to do anything to remain alive for her love and her child, the despair of Dogan over the loss of his love, the complete breakdown of Michael when he can’t solve the case and the near indifference of Chet to right and wrong, are all woven magnificently into the story. The most artistic part of the story is where we see Michael alternating between fishing and being stone drunk. His moves from indifference to despair, from resignation to blaming everyone for his misery. This was a treat to read.
This book could have been turned into a thriller very easily. All that was needed was to shift focus from the characters to the search for Sara. However, I think that the author was not aiming at that, as the search for Sara took a backseat and character development took the centre stage. Do I like the story because of this? I actually believe this helped bring the characters to life in this somewhat small novel, and that is what the book is all about.
Although the end was very hurried and abrupt, I still liked it as both Sara and Chet get the freedom that they deserve. But, I would have liked the author to have extended it a bit, and I think he missed an opportunity to add another action packed twist to the story. Besides, this one minor hiccup, I think this was a fantastic story and deserves nothing less than five stars. I would love to see the author try something different now. If he takes his skill in character development to another genre, it could be truly explosive!...more
I really did not know what I was getting into when I picked up this book to read. The only thing I knew was that it is absolutely and completely outsiI really did not know what I was getting into when I picked up this book to read. The only thing I knew was that it is absolutely and completely outside the genres I generally read. Why did I pick it up then? For one, I have been trying to expand my reading by getting into completely different genres. You will most likely see me reviewing a chicklit soon! Also, I imagined this to be a ‘superhero book’ and I just couldn’t pass up that opportunity. So, here’s what I found out through this experiment. I can read genres other than fantasy / scifi / mystery and like them. Also, I found that this book which is suitable for 9-12 year olds to be very interesting. And lastly, this IS a book about superheroes, but not in the traditional “flying, super strength and crime fighting” sense.
Nate is a normal 10-yearold. He has all the problems which every kid that age faces. He does not like sports and is always picked last for everything. His sister, Abby takes pleasure in torturing him at every opportunity. He tries to run away from his mother’s horrible cooking, but rarely succeeds. His mother insists on making his Halloween costumes even though she can’t sew. His dad is quite cool, but he keeps reminiscing about his childhood and boring the kids with oft-repeated stories. And finally, there is the bane of his life, his classmate Lisa Crane who he just can’t stand.
So what does he do to escape from all these problems? Nate has a passion for drawing and gets lost in the world he creates and draws as cartoons. In fact he keeps getting into trouble as this results in him daydreaming in school, at home, with friends and even while playing games. His stories, which are inspired by life around him, feature him as the hero routinely saving the world from destruction or helping the President in finding a spy. I really liked the fact that in each chapter, we find Nate going on another adventure in this world which he creates. I think this will keep the young readers interested, as they move from one adventure to the next. This also allows the book to be read in parts and helps in kids not getting bored with the story. The author has done a wonderful job of tying these discrete adventures into a wonderful story.
All the characters in the book fit perfectly in their roles and no one seems out of place or forced. Although the story is about a normal family with normal issues, the story moves through at a fast pace and does not drag anywhere. This, I think should be necessary for all MG books. Any place where the story lets up even a little bit can result in kids losing interest and not wanting to push through those sections. With kids reading less every day, a book which can keep them hooked throughout should definitely garner interest from parents.
Finally, I’d like to say that I loved the ending. While reading the book, I was hoping that the ending does not fizzle out. The author definitely did not let me down on that count. When the time comes and real life calls Nate to action, does he step up to the plate and deliver? Can he be a real life hero and actually save the day? Will he be able to step out of his imaginary world, into the real one and do the right thing? I won’t give the ending away, and I’d ask you to read the book to find out. All I will tell you is, I loved the ending where two enemies finally seem to become friends, if only for a little while....more
When I picked up this book after looking at the description, I thought that it would be a run-of-the-mill dystopian novel. Boy was I wrong!
There were parts of the book which had me going, “What? That did not just happen! This is impossible.” There are some hard-to-believe segments in the book if you are expecting a normal story grounded in reality. But once you accept the fact that this is mainly a science fiction / fantasy novel, things start to get very interesting.
This novel is set in a dystopian world where a pandemic is raging. All over the world, cancer has gripped people and is progressing at an alarmingly fast rate with no traditional treatments working against it. In this situation, a new business which helps suffering people die in peace has sprung up. The protagonist, Olivya's home has been converted into a hospice, catering to such patients.
Olivya is portrayed as a teenage girl who wants to maintain a semblance of normalcy in this messed-up world. She is quite stubborn and independent, does not listen to anyone most of the times, and is hugely confident in herself and her abilities. Her ‘colourful’ language had me laughing at times. Her deceased Japanese father had trained her in martial arts, and she does have skills with a nagamaki. But above all, her defining characteristic is that she can see other people’s auras, which enables her to see how a person is feeling, what emotions are welling up inside of him. Her love interest is Mikah, a kindred. Kindred are supposed to be descendants of a demon, and tend to not mingle with regular humans. They each have certain abilities which no normal human would have. Mikah’s ability is that he is a powerful telempath who can alter a person’s emotions. His love for Olivya comes out on many occasions as he disregards his elders to meet her, and attempts to protect her on numerous occasions as they both face immense danger throughout the book. The book is littered with mythical creatures, all of which have been beautifully woven into the story. The authors come up with a unique explanation for their existence in our world, making them extremely real and weaving them into the history of the planet rather than the stories in which they have, till now belonged. There are a lot of other strong characters in the book, whose allegiance is always under doubt. There is no way of knowing who the bad guy really is, until the very last page of the book. Let’s start with the Neo-Twins, Kaiman and Ash, who are ‘bad guys’ personified, mocking Mikah and pushing him to make mistakes. It is quite easy to hate them. Then there is Mrs Wright-Ono, Olivya's mother, who is extremely strict, but her love comes through in all the rules and boundaries she sets. She does try to raise Olivya well, but keeps running headlong into walls of resistance from her. Chanagrai, Mikah’s father figure is extremely wise because of the millennia of experience he has (that’s right, millennia!). Prime is the leader of the kindred and we do not know much about him for large parts of the book, other than that he is a ‘monster’ and is feared by Mikah. And last, the largest character of the book, Lylobriel. He is the ‘alien’ in the book, but is extremely humane. Lylobriel and Morfexio (the other alien) are the perfect example of what friends should be like. Of course, any more description would be considered a spoiler.
I will not be going into any description of the story, as it would give away too much of the fun in the book. So, NO SPOILERS. I’ll just let you know that this story is spread over millennia of the earth’s history. Be ready to be introduced with mythical creatures, aliens, mystics and all the other wonderful science fiction characters. Even with this parade of characters, none of them will feel out of place, or unnecessarily included. Well, we’re coming to the end of my review and you still don’t know what the story is about? That means I have achieved my aim! But know this, the story is about how all the characters join together to defeat the pandemic and return earth to normalcy.
The twists and turns in this book really made my head spin, and story kept moving into unthinkable directions. These unexpected changes kept me hooked and there is not a single part, where I could say that I had anticipated the authors’ moves beforehand. This according to me is a huge compliment and testament to the authors’ wild and uninhibited imaginations, as most stories tend to run along fairly regular lines and end up in ways that everyone expects. As the story progressed, I kept increasing the number of stars I would give it, and the mega-finale finally pushed this book into five-star category....more