Book Review: The Trail Of The Beast (The Deschembine #2) by Matt Spencer

Author: Matt Spencer
Release Date: 13th May 2019
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: The Deschembine Trilogy (Book #2)
Format: E-book 
Pages: 362 pages
Publisher: Back Roads Carnival Books 
Blurb:

Five years ago, Rob and Sally fled Brattleboro, Vermont. Now married, they are hiding out in a Florida backwater, hunted by both sides of the ancient, otherworldly feud between the refugees of the realm of Deschemb. Meanwhile, Sheldon follows a series of disturbing visions back to Brattleboro. Jesse and Zane’s search for the High Natural lands them at the center of a web of secrets and poison magic in New Orleans.
Within the lands, ancient forces rise towards consciousness, threatening to reshape the world on a cataclysmic scale.

Book Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Trail Of The Beast by Matt Spencer is the second instalment in the Deschembine trilogy. It is the sequel to The Night And The Land.

This book surpassed my expectations on so many levels! I was not expecting the conflicts to go so completely out of control on such level (in an obviously good way.) I was expecting to see more of the inter-personal and relationship conflicts, but this book has so much more to offer than just that. The characterisation was a really good development too and the new characters as well as the old ones, especially the old ones, were a treat to read about. I guess it won’t be wrong to say that I enjoyed this book even more than the last one! And I love it when this happens in a series.

The book picks up 5 years after the events of the first book and we get a good glimpse into those years, albeit from a distance which felt perfect to me. The larger conflict was the heart of this book and the author did not fail, whatsoever, to execute it well. And on top of that, there were the brilliant gory action scenes which completely knocked me off! Wow, I really, really enjoyed this book.

This book, in fact, the series (so far), would be great for anyone who’d like to explore a new author or a new urban fantasy series (that leans a bit on the dystopian side.)

You can also read this review on 

Book Review: Marilia, the Warlord (Chrysathamere Trilogy #1) by Morgan Cole

Author: Morgan Cole 
Release Date: March 2020
Genre: YA Fantays, Coming Of Age
Series: The Chrysthamere Trilogy: Book #1
Format: E-book 
Pages: 482 pages
Publisher: 
Blurb:

Formerly published under the title “Marilia, the Bastard.”
Born the bastard daughter of a painted lady, Marilia was told she would live out her days within the walls of her mother’s brothel, a companion for the rich men of Tyrace. But after a terrible betrayal, Marilia’s world turns upside down. With the help of her twin brother, Annuweth, she flees the only home she’s ever known in search of the one man who can offer her a chance at a better life–the Emperor of Navessea’s greatest general, a friend of her deceased father.

What follows is a journey spanning years, from the streets of the desert city of Tyracium to the splendor of the emperor’s keep and the wind-swept, wild island of Svartennos. Along the way, Marilia discovers, for the first time, the gift she has for strategy and warfare—a world that is forbidden to girls like her

When the empire is threatened by a foreign invasion, the defense of Navessea is left in the hands of a cruel and arrogant general no match for the empire’s enemy. With the fate of her new home and her family hanging in the balance, Marilia swears to use all her courage and cunning to do whatever she can to help repel the invasion—if she can convince anyone to follow her.

The struggle that follows will test her to her core and lead her back to the past she thought she had escaped. Facing treachery within her own ranks as well as a devious enemy commander, Marilia will need all the help she can get, even if it means doing something her brother may never forgive—making a deal with the man who murdered her father.

Inspired by The Song of Achilles and Ender’s Game, Marilia, the Warlord is a blend of the epic and the personal, a story of romance, envy, the rivalry between brother and sister, and one woman’s painful discovery that her childhood dreams weren’t quite what she imagined.

Book Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Marilia: The Warlord by Morgan Cole is the 1st book in the series The Chrysthamere Trilogy and also my first book by author Morgan Cole (pen name.)

The first thing I’d like to mention about this amazing book is that it is full of life, willpower and strength! This book really got me out of my self-pitying reverie (related to some medical issues) and made me feel like myself again. And I am sure it was all possible only because of the main character, Marilia. She is just so full of life, courageous and willing to do anything in order to achieve her goals. Her relationship with her twin brother was not only portrayed well but felt very realistic as the author showed not only the good but also the bad that is an inevitable part of every relationship.

The secondary characters were all good too. But what I liked most after the characterisation was the world-building – it was brilliant! The writing is really good and presents the plot in a really good way, having a great flow to it which made this book an easy read.

If you are a fantasy lover than you must read this book! I highly recommend it to all YA and fantasy lovers.

You can also read this review on 

Audiobook Review: Tattooist Of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

Author: Heather Morris 
Narrated by: Richard Armitage 
Release Date: 11th January 2018
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series:
Format: Audiobook
Pages: 8 hours
Publisher: Bolinda/Bonnier Audio
Blurb:
A tale based on interviews that were conducted with Holocaust survivor and Auschwitz-Birkenau tattooist Ludwig (Lale) Sokolov.

In April 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, is forcibly transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When his captors discover that he speaks several languages, he is put to work as a Tätowierer (the German word for tattooist), tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners.

Imprisoned for over two and a half years, Lale witnesses horrific atrocities and barbarism—but also incredible acts of bravery and compassion. Risking his own life, he uses his privileged position to exchange jewels and money from murdered Jews for food to keep his fellow prisoners alive.

One day in July 1942, Lale, prisoner 32407, comforts a trembling young woman waiting in line to have the number 34902 tattooed onto her arm. Her name is Gita, and in that first encounter, Lale vows to somehow survive the camp and marry her. 

Book Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Tattooist Of Auschwitz by Heather Morris is the real-life story of Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, who was imprisoned in the infamous Auschwitz Concentration Camp during the holocaust. Although the story is mainly about how he met his wife, Gita, and fell in love with her, the details and the insights of the concentration camp were horrifying and agonisingly insightful. The horrors of the camp were told from a very neutral perspective and therefore gave the readers a chance to feel things on their own without clouding their judgement. And for me, that was the best part of the book.

The romantic part was not particularly appealing to me, but the rest of the story was pretty good. I really thought that the character of Gita wasn’t done enough justice in the book, especially considering how the book was actually written for her. Male ended up dominating the story far more and it felt like his tale alone.

Though I did like the epilogue by Lale and Gita’s son as it lent an air of eery realism tot he book. I’d definitely recommend it to all historical fiction lovers and to all holocaust enthusiasts.

“𝑰𝒇 𝒚𝒐𝒖 𝒘𝒂𝒌𝒆 𝒖𝒑 𝒊𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒎𝒐𝒓𝒏𝒊𝒏𝒈, 𝒊𝒕 𝒊𝒔 𝒂 𝒈𝒐𝒐𝒅 𝒅𝒂𝒚.”

H𝒆𝒂𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒓 𝑴𝒐𝒓𝒓𝒊𝒔

Book Review: The Shimmering: Dark Descent by A. K. Crook

Author: A. K. Crook
Release Date: 4th July 2020
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Contemporary Romance, Visionary Fiction
Series:
Format: E-book 
Pages: 104
Publisher: 
Blurb: A visionary fantasy about a young woman who stumbles upon the world of her creators, only to discover she holds the key that will open the doorway to return home… and set the forces of evil free.
In the city of Saint Anthony, there is a realm of existence unknown to most mortals. Far below this urban landscape, in the cavernous bowels of the Underworld, Sinda journeys to discover fantastical lands, strange cultures — and herself. 
When she is snatched from her homeland and thrust into the civilized world of humans, she comes face-to-face with the hardest quest she has ever encountered – find her way home or follow her heart. 

Is the choice even hers?

The clock is counting down for Sinda, but time is not her only adversary — Nefarious beings seek her for their own devious designs, the Elders want to exploit her in a power play over their rivals and the godlike Solari’i hold her fate in their hands. 

With each turn she takes, Sinda draws closer to her destiny — and the salvation of the entire Underworld.

Book Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Shimmering: Dark Descent by A. K. Crook is a very refreshing take on the urban fantasy genre with elements of high fantasy, amazing supernatural beings, underlined by visionary and psychological themes and a sub-plot of romance, lightly touching on the LGBTQ subject – this book has everything a book lover can ask for and more!

Wow, I was not expecting this book to be this awesome! I loved the cover and was intrigued by the blurb as it promised a lot, but I am always sceptical whenever the blurb is extremely promising because many times authors overstate while working on the blurbs and it is very disappointing to then read a book and find out it was nowhere close. But this book was one of those rare cases where it delivered what was promised! And even some more, which made it a pleasant surprise for me.

I love reading urban fantasies as I like the concept of our world co-existing with another one and this book was a real treat as it had good characterisation, sensible theories that were not unrealistically far-fetched, awesome beings and creatures and their insatiable lust for power and related motives. This book was full of conflicts and I enjoyed reading it a LOT!

To top it all of, the book was written well and the concepts were executed conscientiously making the prose flow smoothly. And I would definitely recommend this book, the author’s debut, to all fantasy lovers.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

Author: Riley Sager 
Release Date: 3rd July 2018
Genre: Dark Fiction, Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Mystery
Series:
Format: E-book 
Pages: 384
Publisher: Dutton Books 
Blurb:
Two Truths and a Lie. The girls played it all the time in their tiny cabin at Camp Nightingale. Vivian, Natalie, Allison, and first-time camper Emma Davis, the youngest of the group. The games ended when Emma sleepily watched the others sneak out of the cabin in the dead of night. The last she—or anyone—saw of them was Vivian closing the cabin door behind her, hushing Emma with a finger pressed to her lips.

Now a rising star in the New York art scene, Emma turns her past into paintings—massive canvases filled with dark leaves and gnarled branches that cover ghostly shapes in white dresses. The paintings catch the attention of Francesca Harris-White, the socialite and wealthy owner of Camp Nightingale. When Francesca implores her to return to the newly reopened camp as a painting instructor, Emma sees an opportunity to try to find out what really happened to her friends.

Yet it’s immediately clear that all is not right at Camp Nightingale. Already haunted by memories from fifteen years ago, Emma discovers a security camera pointed directly at her cabin, mounting mistrust from Francesca and, most disturbing of all, cryptic clues Vivian left behind about the camp’s twisted origins. As she digs deeper, Emma finds herself sorting through lies from the past while facing threats from both man and nature in the present.

And the closer she gets to the truth about Camp Nightingale, the more she realizes it may come at a deadly price. 

Book Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This is my 2nd book by Riley Sager. I can imagine why my big expectations weren’t met by this book – because I read the 3rd book by him before this one and now reading a previous work feels like reading a weaker book so I only ended up liking this book. It was a great read though, entertaining for sure and fast-paced. I enjoyed the entire bit about camping as I’ve never been to a camp so it was a welcome side-plot.

I think I am only disappointed with the ending – I was hoping for a scandalous reveal or bomb-shell climax (which I was blind-sided by in Lock Every Door.) That was what was missing in this book. The entire thing about the asylum was really, really good and by that point, I was sure that the author is going to pull out something big in the end, but sadly it was an okay-ish ending. I’m sure a lot of people will love the ending as it was good from a thriller book’s perspective, but I guess in my case the author penned the 3rd book so well the 2nd one seems a bit bland in front of it. So I am not sure now if I should read Final Girls, their first book. Though I am sure as hell going to be reading the next one by Sager as I’m sure it is going to be good!

If you haven’t read anything by Riley Sager yet, then follow the chronological order of the books. That way you can enjoy the building momentum in each book and will be blown away by their awesomeness individually rather than comparing their best work to the previous ones.

You can also read this review on Goodreads

Audiobook Review: Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky

Author: Stephen Chbosky
NarratorChristine Lakin
Release Date: 1st October 2019
Genre: Supernatural, Horror, Thriller, Dark Fiction
Series:
Format: Audiobook
Length: 24 hrs and 32 minutes
Publisher: Hachette Audio 
Blurb:
Imagine… Leaving your house in the middle of the night. Knowing your mother is doing her best, but she’s just as scared as you.

Imagine… Starting a new school, making friends. Seeing how happy it makes your mother. Hearing a voice, calling out to you.
Imagine… Following the signs, into the woods. Going missing for six days. Remembering nothing about what happened.
Imagine… Something that will change everything… And having to save everyone you love.

Book Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I started out reading this book with this big paperback copy that I had received as one of the books on my birthday. But as I started reading and progressed, I realised it was straining my back to hold this book up and read (I had spine surgery in Feb 2020 due to spine degeneration.) I tried to read it while laying down, but it simply didn’t work as is the case with bulky physical books, so I had to abandon the book reluctantly… that is, until I got my hands on the audiobook! And then what a fun ride it was! Although it was a long, long book – 24 hours and 35 minutes, it was a real treat!

This book is super amazing, for the most part. It had everything I generally crave in a good dark supernatural thriller. The characterisation was brilliant, as was obviously expected from Mr Stephen Chbosky, whose first book I absolutely fell in love with – The Perks Of Being A Wallflower. 
The story was great, the concept although seen before felt fresh and unique and the plot well thought out. This book was everything I had expected and a lot more.

The twists were good, but I did see the main one coming. I think the author’s pacing lacked there and therefore he revealed the twist a couple of pages before it should have been revealed. There was a fair bit of wandering but it was mostly good so I enjoyed reading it.

The only thing I didn’t like was the whole Jesus angle. I mean, it seriously came out of nowhere. Or maybe not, but I guess I just wasn’t expecting it. I mean what the hell was that even about – Eve voluntarily staying in hell to keep the devil in check?! That was way too cringe-worthy and too spiritual for my taste. Apart from that, there was only the issue of repetition where I was going insane and wanted to shout at the author to move on already! I mean how many times do we need a reminder about David and the baseball glove smell. 

BUT, the narration, guys! IT WAS SPECTACULAR!! The narrator’s dramatic reading made me jump out of my skin when the first couple of times she said CHRIS….TO….PppppHER….. HZZZZZZZZZZ… I mean it was totally insane! And then there was the part where she cried like a baby… that was way too creepy than anything I’ve ever heard! Hats off to Christine Lakin. 

THIS IS HOW YOU NARRATE AN AUDIOBOOK!!!

Overall, I’d say that I’d recommend the audiobook over all the other formats and that is only because of Christine Lakin’s narration.

You can also read this review on Goodreads

Audiobook Review: If It Bleeds by Stephen King

Author: Stephen King
Narrator: Will Patton, Danny Burstein and Steven Weber
Release Date: 21st April 2020
Genre: Short Stories, Horror, Thriller, Dark Fiction
Series:
Format: Audiobook
Length: 15 hrs and 12 minutes
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio 
Blurb:
If it Bleeds is a collection of four new novellas —Mr. Harrigan’s Phone, The Life of Chuck, Rat, and the title story If It Bleeds— each pulling readers into intriguing and frightening places.

A collection of four uniquely wonderful long stories, including a stand-alone sequel to The Outsider.
News people have a saying: ‘If it bleeds, it leads’. And a bomb at Albert Macready Middle School is guaranteed to lead any bulletin.
Holly Gibney of the Finders Keepers detective agency is working on the case of a missing dog – and on her own need to be more assertive – when she sees the footage on TV. But when she tunes in again, to the late-night report, she realizes there is something not quite right about the correspondent who was first on the scene. So begins ‘If It Bleeds’ , a stand-alone sequel to The Outsider featuring the incomparable Holly on her first solo case.
Dancing alongside are three more long stories – ‘Mr Harrigan’s Phone’, ‘The Life of Chuck’ and ‘Rat’.
The novella is a form King has returned to over and over again in the course of his amazing career, and many have been made into iconic films, If It Bleeds is a uniquely satisfying collection of longer short fiction by an incomparably gifted writer.

Book Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

If It Bleeds by Stephen King is a brilliant read!

You can also read this review on Goodreads

ARC Review: Peerless Minds: An Arc of Achievement by Pritish Nandy And Tapan Chaki

Author: Pritish Nandy Tapan Chaki
Release Date: 21 January 2021
Genre: Non-Fiction, Motivational, Self-Help
Series: 
Edition: Hardback
Pages: 500
Publisher: Harper India
Blurb:
‘Peerless Minds brings together the finest minds that sustain India as a riveting and relentless idea. The exceptional life stories featured in this book reaffirm the truth that the luckiest of nations are the ones that continue to be rebuilt and reimagined by peerless minds.’ S. PRASANNARAJAN, Editor, Open magazine Three Nobel Prize winners. Two Bharat Ratnas. Three Knights of the British Empire. A Pulitzer Prize winner. A two-time Best of the Bookers winner. An Abel Prize winner. A Pritzker Prize winner. A Fields Medallist. Two Fukuoka Prize winners. A Turner Prize winner. Two Praemium Imperiale recipients. A double Academy Award winner. Many Padma Vibhushans and Padma Bhushans. But that is not why these people are really here. They are here because they, as Indians and people of Indian origin, have had extraordinary achievements and have inspired, each in their own way, a generation of Indians. Here you will find, among others, economist Amartya Sen; authors V.S. Naipaul, Salman Rushdie; mythologist Devdutt Pattanaik; philanthropist Azim Premji; mathematician Manjul Bhargava; from the world of music, Annapurna Devi, Lata Mangeshkar and Zubin Mehta; industrialist Ratan Tata; sculptor Anish Kapoor; architect Balkrishna Doshi; spymaster A.S. Dulat; historian Irfan Habib; Michelin-starred chef Vikas Khanna; poet Javed Akhtar; and stand-up comic Hasan Minhaj. In conversation with them are authors and journalists such as James Astill, Prannoy Roy, Vir Sanghvi, Aatish Taseer, Shereen Bhan, Karan Mahajan, Rajdeep Sardesai, Khalid Mohamed, Priya Khanchandani, Indu Bhan and Anil Dharker. A fascinating collection of long-form interviews with some of the greatest minds and biggest achievers of our time, Peerless Minds is a book to be cherished and preserved.

REVIEW

★★★★

Peerless Minds by Pritish Nandy is a motivational non-fiction book that is a brilliant and inspiring book especially when one needs a little ‘pick-me-up.’ This book is full of interviews with various brightest minds of India and is full of their individual journeys, struggles, dilemmas, etc throughout their lives and careers.

A must-read for everyone.

You can also read this review on Goodreads

Book Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

AuthorStephanie Garber 
Release Date: 28th November 2018
Genre: Techno-Thriller, Action, Sci-Fi, Post-Apocalyptic
Series: Written By Blood #1
Edition: e-book
Pages: 238
Publisher: 
Blurb:
The Sunday Times bestseller WELCOME TO CARAVAL, WHERE NOTHING IS QUITE WHAT IT SEEMS . . . Scarlett has never left the tiny isle of Trisda, pining from afar for the wonder of Caraval, a once-a-year week-long performance where the audience participates in the show. Caraval is Magic. Mystery. Adventure. And for Scarlett and her beloved sister Tella it represents freedom and an escape from their ruthless, abusive father. When the sisters’ long-awaited invitations to Caraval finally arrive, it seems their dreams have come true. But no sooner have they arrived than Tella vanishes, kidnapped by the show’s mastermind organiser, Legend. Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But nonetheless she quickly becomes enmeshed in a dangerous game of love, magic and heartbreak. And real or not, she must find Tella before the game is over, and her sister disappears forever.

REVIEW

★★+1/2

Caraval by Stephanie Garber is one book that I had waited for a long time to read before, finally, I was able to read it for the buddy read of RMFAO‘s Buddy Read for December’s Fantasy Month. To say that I had monumental expectations from this book would be a complete understatement. I’ve always loved reading immersive and elaborate fantasy books, but after having read The Night Circus, I was completely enthralled to have discovered magic in such a conventional form – Circus. And that was the reason why I was so eager to read Caraval which, to me, seemed a lot like The Night Circus.

Unfortunately, as it turns out, comparing both these books would be an insult to The Night Circus as Caraval miserably and unapologetically failed on more fronts that I even care to count. The only reason I even completed the book was the plot because somehow (unbelievably) the plot managed to keep me interested and I wanted to find out how the book ended.

I was appalled to see that the characterisation was so lifeless that I don’t even remember the names of the leading heroine even though I finished the book only a couple of days ago! And this was not even the fault of my huge expectations because I really feel that if a book is a Sunday Times Bestseller, it has to have something going for it, shouldn’t it??

The descriptions were very forced and sounded repetitive, the characterization was weak and immature and the progression of the plot felt weak too. The pacing was not great as at some places it was so slow that I had to skim over portions. The world building was okay but not as it should have been and the dialogues were outright bad at some places.

I hate writing so much negative about this book as I do feel that this book had a lot of potentials but it failed miserably for me in almost every aspect. I won’t be recommending this book to anyone. Though if you love reading fantasy genre, you should really give The Night Circus a read because that book is simply MAGIC!

this review is also posted on Goodreads