Friday, December 19, 2014

Ostentatious Tête–à–Têtes #1 (DNFing a book)


One of the best things that has come out of blogging is the ability to connect with people with the same interest and an outlet for the fore-mentioned interest. Saying that, it is the most difficult post to write as reviewing and blog tours take priority and posting discussions always takes a back seat. The topic I am about to discuss now has been on my mind for a while and it is something that we all can relate to. It is about DNF –ing books. For those who are new to this term it means Did Not Finish.

DNFing a book is a touchy topic for me as it has many factors going for and against it. First of all I personally hate leaving anything incomplete. If I have started something then I try my best to bring it to completion. I also think that no book is a bad book. A book is a brain child of a person who has written it because they have a story to tell and it is only fair I give it a fair shot. Furthermore, after spending a few hours and thousand words later, I keep holding on to the faith that perhaps it will get better and as I have already spent time on it, so I might as well hang on till the end.

I am a firm believer that a book is a different experience for different individuals and it is never the same for two people. But sometimes some books just simply don’t do it for you, so much so that continuing to read becomes unbearable. One of my many pet peeves are boring or annoying characters. This is the most common reason I have DNFed a book in the past. I may not be able to connect with a character or even relate to them but as long as they don’t annoy me. Hell, I have read about morally ambiguous characters and still loved the story as along as it is done well. In fact the worse the better.

If the writing is difficult to understand or if the plot is too confusing, I tend to zone out. Another classic one is when the story is simply too long and there is not enough going on to keep me invested. Another reason which occurs quite often is when I am having a reading phunk or I am simply not in the mood for that particular genre, then I have DNFed a book in the past but in my defence I know exactly why I have DNFed the book and that I will come back to it on a later date as then I will be in a better position to do it justice.

To be honest I have scored some books less because I was not in the right mood when reading it which had a negative on my reading experience but whenever this happens I mention it in my review so that it gets the benefit of doubt.

After all the above discussion and analysis the situation turns around on its head when a given book is a proof copy. On one hand I think life is too short to read a book I am not enjoying and that I may be missing out on discovering my next favourite book. But I also have to consider that the publicist has invested in sending me a book and is counting on me. It puts extra pressure on me to keep going.

That brings me to another question. What do I do if I simply didn’t like it? I DNFed the book, but does that mean I should still write a review or simply don’t do anything at all?

This topic raises a plethora of questions which makes me squirm simply thinking about it. If you have any suggestion or anything you may want to add feel free to do so in the comments below. I would love to know what you take is on this. 


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Review: The Book of Ivy (The Book of Ivy #1) by Amy Engel


Just the right amount of everything
Title: The Book of Ivy
Series: The Book of Ivy
Author: Amy Engel
Publisher: Entangles Teen, US
My ratings: 4 out of 5 stars
Released: 11th November, 2014
T he premise for the Book of Ivy is quite intriguing and needless to say, this book does not disappoint. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, Ivy is the younger daughter of a family who lost the leadership to the little township they live in. The teenagers here have arranged marriages but Ivy is married to the President’s son. However she has been trained to assassinate him so that she and her family can extract revenge for the murder of her mother and get back control over their settlement.

Determined to succeed Ivy start her new life with trepidation as to what kind of person she has been married to and how she will earn his trust. Turns out that Bishop is not at how Ivy expected him to be. Slowly as time passes and she gets to know him better, does Ivy have any chance of bringing her plans to fruition?

I surprising enjoyed this book. With a small town setting, where this rag tag group of people are trying to make ends meet, I enjoyed how slowly events were unveiled and how Ivy’s black and white world turns grey. Her inner turmoil and loyalties made for riveting drama and the suspense had me on edge.

My favourite part, undoubtedly just like everybody else, was the relationship between Ivy and Bishop. Married to strangers, they start their new lives with awkwardness and distrust but slowly Amy Engel brought them together and it was beautiful. Ivy and Bishop are meant to be and their chemistry was off the charts.

I read this book in one sitting and I am sure it will capture the imagination of other readers. The story may not be feel completely original as I have read many other books with a similar plotline but the way it is handled and written is what makes all the difference.

One complaint however is the cover where it shows a backdrop of skyscrapers and I thought it will be sci-fi as it is set in a post-apocalyptic world. Turns out it is a small city state, where the everything is quaint and cute.

A light and sweet read with just the right amount of romance, suspense, action and drama.

ARC provided by Entangled Teen via NetGalley

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Review: A Thousand Pieces of You (Firebird #1) by Claudia Grey


Plausible Sci-Fi and beautiful world building
Title: A Thousand Pieces of You
Series: Firebird
Author: Claudia Grey
Publisher: Harper Teen, US
My ratings: 3 out of 5 stars
Released: 4th November, 2014
If I am completely honest with you, the reason I picked this book was 80 percent due to the beautiful cover. I mean I could keep looking at it for hours. Apart from the blurb did sound exciting enough to warrant a read. The premise is a little difficult to surmise but I will try.

Marguerite is the daughter of two renowned physicists who have managed to develop a device which enables users to travel between dimensions. When her father is murdered and the suspect is the run, Marguerite decides to follow after him to another dimension to find him and get answer. But the catch is that, the new dimension may also have Marguerite’s father who may still be alive in this dimension. That is not all, as Marguerite is torn up as the suspect is none other than her parents’ research assistance for whom she may have had feelings for.

This is the simplest way of describing the story but the various elements of the world building were really well put together. The workings of the dimensions were complicated but it was well explained and detailed. While Marguerite was not a character I could relate to but she felt likable and sensible. She had some chemistry with Theo, the other research assistant who followed her but her heart was set on Paul. While it understandably took me a while to really get into the meat of the story due to the complexity of the world building, I liked how her relationship with Paul was unveiled slowly. The two love interests were quite different from each other while one was fun and charming the other was broody and observant. No points for guessing who Marguerite likes.

Due to the many dimension travelling involved in the story line, the setting kept changing each time and it kept me on my toes as to where the author will take us next. The phase in Russia started great but the romance moved full speed which, if not the way it ended, I would have found convincing. The twist in the tail that came later, I had more or else guessed from the start.

Apart from that, a pretty good first book in a new series with likable characters, plausible story line and excellent world building. I may need to read the first book again before reading the second one due to the detailed world building.

ARC provided by Harper Teen via Edelweiss

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Review: Shadow of Night (All Soul's Trilogy #2) by Deborah Harkness


What a disappointment!
Title: Shadow of Night
Series: All Soul's Trilogy
Author: Deborah Harkness
Publisher: Headline, UK
My ratings: 2 out of 5 stars
Released: 1st Febuaray, 2013
After enjoying reading the surprisingly good A Discovery of Witches, I was quite looking forward to reading Shadows of Night. A Discovery of Witches had an ending which demanded the reader grab the next book from the shelf and find a corner to continue the slow but intriguing journey of Diana Bishop, a witch of extra ordinary talent and her centuries old vampire husband.

A Discovery of Witches end with Diana and Mathew making a jump into the past to retrieve Ashmole782 and this is where all the trouble begins. I always had trouble coming to terms with the complexities of time travel and I am afraid that was one of the many shortfall of Shadow of Night. All the pillars on which A Discovery of Witches stood crumbles one after the other. First of all, the real Mathew is already in the sixteenth century and yet this Mathew is marauding about and when they finally leave, how will they ever be able to hide that there was another Mathew in London? Gallowglass knew the new Mathew in the sixteenth century and the he knew what was to come in the future.

On one hand they took pains to hide their marriage and then go on flaunting it in public. Then there is a host of characters which apart from adding to the already increased number of characters don't have much role to play in the plot line.

Furthermore while the amount of detail put into the world building was admirable and commendable, it felt cumbersome to me. It was rich in detail, so much so that it transported the reader into Elizabethan London but all that 'noise' was simply too much for me. It distracted from the story line and made the book unnecessarily long.

Overall, I did not enjoy Shadow Of Night due to the long narrative and conflicting inconsistencies which made progress really difficult for me. The 640 page mammoth took me 3 months to complete. Shadow of Night will be appreciated by reader who like their fantasy fiction extremely detailed and long winder but unfortunately, it was not to my tastes.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Movie Review: The Hobbit- The Battle Of The Five Armies


Perfect ending to an epic journey
Title: The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies
Director: Peter Jackson
My ratings: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Releasing: 12th December, 2014
Last week I was lucky enough to attend a pre-release screening of The Hobbit - The Battle of the Five Armies. Having never seen the Lord of the Rings trilogy or The Hobbit franchise, I was in for a surprise. I was not sure what I was in for but my excitement built when the screening day drew closer. I was even more delighted when I found it was a 3D version. I arrived starry eyed and after a quick explanation about switching ours phones off to ensure no piracy or recording takes place.

I won't surmises the story line as I am unable to give it justice as I have not read the books. The movie starts with non stop action from the start to the end. The first scene start with Smuag destroying the Lake village. I was quite surprised that it was played by Benedict Cumberbatch which I didn't figure out till the credits. The action scenes and the special effects were spectacular. soon I realised that I was sucked in the narrative, the story telling, the beautiful cinematography and the outstanding battle scenes.

My only complain is that I wish there was Martin Freeman featured in the story. He is such an excellent performer and I wish we could have seen more from him. Less Martin Freeman means more screen time for the other actors who did a splendid job in making the viewers invested in the movie.

My verdict is that it is a must see movie for the franchise fans and the regular folks alike. It was entertainment on steroids and I loved this last adventure to the fullest.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Review: The Snake Charm (Vestigial Tales #1) by Laura Lam


Bite sized Drystan to chew on
Title: The Snake Charm
Series: Vestigial Tales #1
Author: Laura Lam
Publisher: Penglass Publishing
My ratings: 4 out of 5 stars
Released: June, 2014
It is no secret that I adore Laura Lam’s Pantomime Series. The Snake Charm is a novella set in the same world and revolves around a incident involving Drystan before Micah join R. H Ragona’s Circus.

This novella may be short but it packs a punch. It gives an insight in Drystan world before Micah appears in the scene. The original series is told in Micah’s view point but this novella is tell what Drystan is thinking and what kind of person he is.

I’ll have to hand it to Laura Lam that she has an uncanny ability to grab you by the throat and drag you straight into the Pantomime-verse with just a few sentences. A few paragraphs in and soon, I was overcome by pangs of longing to return back to the original book and experience it all over again.

A nice small dosage pf my beloved Drystan and a touch of magic from vestiges and the crazy world of the now long gone, R. H Ragona’s Circus.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Audiobook Review: Unhinged (Splintered #2) by A. G Howard


Dark, mysterious and failed to hit the mark
Title: Unhinged
Series: Splintered
Author: A. G Howard
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
My ratings: 3 out of 5 stars
Released: 8th January, 2014
It felt like I had been waiting for Unhinged for a long time. When Splintered first came out, I gave into the impulse of reading it as the quirky cover and the positive reviews drew me in. The wild ride and the all round craziness was addictive and I enjoyed the adventure Splintered took me on. I'll admit, my favourite character of them all was Morpheus, the Mad Hatter. Dark, mysterious with an agenda of his own, he was difficult to predict and impossible to slot in a spot. His intention were never clear and he always had a sinister edge about him.

So when I finally got a chance to read Unhinged, I wanted to read it with an unhurried pace as I wanted to savour the experience and the crazy world building. I picked up the audio book, narrated by Rebecca Gibel.

Unfortunately, Unhinged failed to hit the mark with me. First of all, the whole book was set up in the real world not the Netherland, which usually added another layer or many layers to the story and the experience. Of course, we have the creatures of Netherland creeping into this world both old and new, leaving Alyssa to deal with the consequences. We have Jebb, whom I have never taken to and a variety of other characters. The best thing about Unhinged was that it had a lot more Morpheus than Splintered but my enjoyment of reading about a bewildering character was cut short. I hated the voice, the narrator did for him. It was meant to be a cockney accent but it simply did not feel right for him. Every time Morpheus spoke, I cringed. In fact, I didn't like any of the characters voices.

Alyssa especially seemed bratty and selfish in this book, and her desperate attempts to be 'normal' annoyed me. I am not saying this because she was harsh on Morpheus but she held everyone to different standards which I found hard to accept. It was ok, if she duped, cheated and lied but if somebody else did the same to her, she became holier than thou.

It all seems really mean but it all comes to the fact, that I did not like Alyssa or the way she treated people. I found her self cantered and selfish. The voices in this audio book didn't help either. I don't know is all my venom is coming because I didn't like the narration as I had read the first book and perhaps I had assigned 'voices' to these characters in my mind or perhaps Splintered had blind sided me with its crazy Wonderland hijinks and the lack of which made her flaws glaring obvious.

I'd recommended it to all fans of the first book but would advice to at least try it before completely disregarding it.


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