Tag Archives: book reader

Skyward, by Brandon Sanderson, 2018

Title: Skyward

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Publisher: Gollancz

Genre: Science fiction/ Young adult/ Fantasy

Format: Kindle edition

Language: English

No. of pages: 528

Recommended for:

Synopsis:

Defeated, crushed, and driven almost to extinction, the remnants of the human race are trapped on a planet that is constantly attacked by mysterious alien starfighters. Spensa, a teenage girl living among them, longs to be a pilot. When she discovers the wreckage of an ancient ship, she realizes this dream might be possible—assuming she can repair the ship, navigate flight school, and (perhaps most importantly) persuade the strange machine to help her. Because this ship, uniquely, appears to have a soul.

My review:

I read this book as a part of the Underrated Book Club read for April 2019.

I really enjoyed this book and I think this might be a sort of very very informal write-up on it, unlike the reviews that I usually write. Okay.. disclaimer done, moving on.

The book totally gave me Top Gun vibes in the beginning, and I absolutely loved it. The world building is great but can probably do with a bit more of description as we read on. The social system is also unique and I quite enjoyed reading the book.

The character development of Spensa is great. In the beginning, we see her as a know-it-all, who is also very dramatic, mind you, almost too much at times, and also appears to be immature, unwilling to sometimes just accept things as they are. She also lacks control! Nonetheless, she is humourous and very optimistic, to be honest and it is refreshing.

The classroom bantering all is so amazing to read – because it is so very relatable. Despite the fact that they are in a completely different environment than we are, the back and forth replies are really cool. Jerkface, oh sorry, Jorgen is just as funny – I actually like reading about him. Cobb too is a pretty cool and understanding teacher and I am so thankful that he is willing to take on a chance when it came to Spensa’s admission.

The book also talks about a lot of other important issues that are very relatable to our world today – losing one’s life in the line of duty, understanding that life is not divided into only black and white and that there are so many grey areas in between. The toxic expectations of bravery is also shown and Cobb’s own speech about it says a lot – “The only reason we have this stupid culture of self-martyrdom is because somebody feels they have to justify our casualties. To make them seem honourable, righteous”. This is the reason Hurl does not eject and it is heartbreaking – that all pilots would rather do this than ne termed as a cadet.

On a humourous note, Doomslug is so funny and interrupts with her sounds! Also, should I say more about M-Bot ?

A couple of destructor blasts hit M-Bot’s shield. “Hey!” M-Bot said. “Just for that, I shall hunt your firstborn children and laugh with glee as I tell thm of your death in terrible detail, with many unpleasant adjectives!”

How can a mere ship be this funny? Another instance of M-Bot’s humour goes –

“Humans have many holes in them. Would you like me to provide you with a list?” “Please don’t.” “Ha. Ha. That was humor”

I felt so bad for the richer kids actually – like FM, Arturo, Jorgen etc. and slowly, Spensa understands that she is perhaps more free than the rest of the her flight mates. The little moment between Jorgen and Spensa was so good though – I am still not sure if I would like to have a romance yet… how he inspires us is firstly beautiful and also nice for us readers to read about.

“When you fly, you are amazing. You’re so determined, so skillful, so passionate. You’re a fire, Spin. When everyone else is calm, you’re a burning bonfire. Beautiful, like a newly forged blade.”

However, at times, it felt a bit separate from the reader. Using such technical terms in the beginning was a bit difficult in the beginning. And as such, I think that if the reader just reads on despite this problem in the beginning, the story grips you and pulls you in.

Verdict:

I really enjoyed the book and look forward to the sequel. For now, I rate this one a 4.5/5 stars.

About the author:

Brandon’s major books for the second half of 2016 are The Dark Talent, the final volume in Alcatraz Smedry’s autobiographical account of his battle against the Evil Librarians who secretly rule our world, and Arcanum Unbounded, the collection of short fiction in the Cosmere universe that includes the Mistborn series and the Stormlight Archive, among others. This collection features The Emperor’s Soul, Mistborn: Secret History, and a brand-new Stormlight Archive novella, Edgedancer. Earlier this year he released Calamity, the finale of the #1 New York Times bestselling Reckoners trilogy that began with Steelheart . Brandon Sanderson was born in 1975 in Lincoln, Nebraska. As a child Brandon enjoyed reading, but he lost interest in the types of titles often suggested to him, and by junior high he never cracked a book if he could help it. This changed when an eighth grade teacher gave him Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly. Brandon was working on his thirteenth novel when Moshe Feder at Tor Books bought the sixth he had written. Tor has published Elantris,the Mistborn trilogy and its followup The Alloy of Law, Warbreaker, and The Way of Kings and Words of Radiance, the first two in the planned ten-volume series The Stormlight Archive. He was chosen to complete Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series; 2009’s The Gathering Storm and 2010’s Towers of Midnight were followed by the final book in the series, A Memory of Light, in January 2013. Four books in his middle-grade Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians series have been released in new editions by Starscape, and his novella Infinity Blade Awakening was an ebook bestseller for Epic Games accompanying their acclaimed Infinity Blade iOS video game series. Two more novellas, Legion and The Emperor’s Soul, were released by Subterranean Press and Tachyon Publications in 2012, and 2013 brought two young adult novels, The Rithmatist from Tor and Steelheart from Delacorte. The only author to make the short list for the David Gemmell Legend Award six times in four years, Brandon won that award in 2011 for The Way of KingsThe Emperor’s Soul won the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novella. He has appeared on the New York Times Best-Seller List multiple times, with five novels hitting the #1 spot. Currently living in Utah with his wife and children, Brandon teaches creative writing at Brigham Young University. 

About the reviewer:

Nayanika Saikia, is one of the foremost book reviewers from the North-east and Assam, and is also an admin for the official India bookstagram page on Instagram. She publishes her own reviews and recommendations for poetry, fiction, non-fiction etc. on her bookstagram account @pretty_little_bibliophile which won the NorthEast Creator Awards 2018, as well as in daily newspapers, online magazines etc.  She can be contacted at nayanikasaikia98@gmail.com .

You Will be Safe Here, by Damian Barr, 2019

Title: You Will be Safe Here

Author: Damian Barr

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Genre: Historical fiction

Format: Advanced Reading Copy

Language: Language

No. of pages: 352

Recommended for: All ages

Synopsis:

An extraordinary debut that explores legacies of abuse, redemption, and the strength of the human spirit–from the Boer Wars in South Africa to brutal wilderness camps for teenage boys.

South Africa, 1901. It is the height of the second Boer War. Sarah van der Watt and her six-year-old son Fred are forced from their home on Mulberry Farm. As the polite invaders welcome them to Bloemfontein Concentration Camp they promise Sarah and Fred that they will be safe there.

2014. Sixteen-year-old Willem is an outsider. Hoping he will become the man she wants him to be, his Ma and her boyfriend force Willem to attend the New Dawn Safari Training Camp where they are proud to make men out of boys. They promise that he will be safe there.

You Will Be Safe Here is a powerful and urgent novel of two connected South African stories. Inspired by real events, it uncovers a hidden colonial history, reveals a dark contemporary secret, and explores the legacy of violence and our will to survive. 

My review:

I received a review copy for the publishers in return for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

I absolutely loved reading YOU WILL BE SAFE HERE. This is a poignant story that really touched my heart and I have changed after reading it. There are 4 parts in the story.

The first part is written in an epistolary format – in the form of a diary. The ton of Sarah van der Watt is so tragic. I found – not overtly so, but in its undercurrent – I could feel it as I read – Sarah’s knowledge that the need of her world as she knew it, was near. Things would greatly change and it is as if she is deliberately and often times forcefully trying to be cheerful – why not enjoy the last few days before all hell breaks loose?

Some lines I liked were –

“There is strangely little to do now but wait.”

During this period of the second Boer War, the Kaffirs were freed by the English. The resulting chaos was a great scar on the lives of so many people – both whites and blacks. I was also pleasantly surprised by the resilience of the people – specifically Sarah van der Watt and basically everyone else.  It also talks about the feminine issues – both social, and historical – the suppression of women and the masculine power play over them, their objectification, etc.  I also loved that Samuel, the husband had been such a supportive husband to Sarah, as we learn from the diary entries. Later on, the entries make you cry – just reading of the utter inhuman situations that they, along with so many other people were subjected to. The flashback method was also great and gives great depth to the story.

One thing that I really enjoyed was the inclusion of the literary references. It made the text very relatable to the reader, as it surely did for me! 

Throughout all the different parts, the Southern Cross is a recurring motif. I interpreted it as an objective correlative for the concepts of hope and strength that it bestowed on the different characters. The use of regional words at certain places give a certain authenticity to the text and a sense of reality.

In part 2, Willem says “They wouldn’t understand, they never understand” which I think resonates among so many teenagers, when thinking of adults and authority figures.

One of the major themes that I saw throughout Part 2 is that of toxic masculinity. For instance, seeing Willem cry in desperation once, Jan had turned away – after all, boys do not cry. We also see domestic abuse scenario in this part.

Later, when Willem is at the camp and Rayna misses him. She understands that at the camp he would be forced to do what they have wanted him to do always – things that other boys do generally. “It’s these markers of his willingness to try that break her heart”.

 I really loved Rayna’s character. She is the epitome of an independent and hardworking woman. When Irma accuses her saying she could never “keep a man” Rayna says, “I never needed one… Maybe I wanted one, sometimes but I never needed one. Not like you” and that is such a powerful sentiment. Rayna is an inspiring woman just as Sarah.

Verdict:

This is one of the best books I have read in my life, let alone in 2019. I rate it a 5/5 stars and will definitely be picking it up again.

About the author:

‘Maggie & Me’ is my memoir and ‘You Will Be Safe Here’ is my first novel (out in April 2019). You can follow me on twitter @damian_barr and insta @mrdamianbarr. I host my own Literary Salon at the Savoy: www.theliterarysalon.co.uk

‘Maggie & Me’ is my memoir of surviving small-town Scotland in the Thatcher years. It won Sunday Times Memoir of the Year: “Full to the brim with poignancy, humour, brutality and energetic and sometimes shimmering prose, the book confounds one’s assumptions about those years and drenches the whole era in an emotionally charged comic grandeur. It is hugely affecting.” BBC Radio 4 made it a Book of the Week. Following Jeanette Winterson in 2012, Stonewall named me Writer of the Year 2013.

I host my own Literary Salon at the Savoy. Guests include: Jojo Moyes, Bret Easton Ellis, John Waters, Mary Beard, James Frey, David Nicholls, Colm Toibin, Taiye Selasi, Susan Calman, David Mitchell and Rose McGowan. Do enjoy our podcast!

Commended as Columnist of the Year, I’ve also been a journalist for over a decade writing mostly for The Times but also the Independent, Telegraph, Financial Times, Guardian, Evening Standard and Granta. I’m currently a columnist for the Big Issue and High Life. My first book, based on a Times column, was published by Hodder in 2005. ‘Get It Together: A Guide to Surviving Your Quarterlife Crisis’. I’ve also co-written two plays for Radio 4 and appeared on PM, Midweek, Broadcasting House and Today as well as The Verb and presented on Front Row. I live in Brighton with my partner and our intensely demanding chickens.

About the reviewer:

Nayanika Saikia, is one of the foremost book reviewers from the North-east and Assam, and is also an admin for the official India bookstagram page on Instagram. She publishes her own reviews and recommendations for poetry, fiction, non-fiction etc. on her bookstagram account @pretty_little_bibliophile which won the NorthEast Creator Awards 2018, as well as in daily newspapers, online magazines etc.  She can be contacted at nayanikasaikia98@gmail.com .

First Came Forever (The Angelheart Saga I), Annie Woods, 2017


Title: First Came Forever (The Angelheart Saga I)
Author: Annie Woods
Publisher: Pegasus Elliot Mackenzie Publishers
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Pages: 322
Synopsis:
First love. A promise of forever. A lie that changes everything.
Backpacking with her high school friends, Erica Lindell’s life takes a thrilling new turn. Meeting the fascinating Sasha Ailes, she can’t help but fall completely and irrevocably in love with him. When he feels the same way about her, Erica finds herself drawn into a fairytale love story that will set her life on a new direction. But Sasha has kept his true identity a secret. Finding out who he really is, Erica must overcome the betrayal and make the hardest choice of her life. Can she give up her own dreams to live in his world, or leave and lose him forever?
First Came Forever is an enchanting, heart-wrenching story about finding true love and the devastating consequences it can lead to. What price is too high to pay, even for love?
My review:
Before I begin the actual review, let me state how much time it took me to literally finish reading the book – a day! And no, not even 24 hours; not even half of that. It took me around 4 hours! Once I started with it, I could not ear to keep it down!
First Came Forever was a hauntingly beautiful contemporary story – and that is not a word I generally use for contemporary novels. It has the perfect amount of seasonings of drama, romance, high school romance, and comes with the best imaginable Prince a girl could ever wish for.
One must assume that for a reader to not be able to put down a book, the beginning must be great! And it is. The early chapters are a treat for those who love to travel – it certainly was for me. The writing is so visual – the imagery vivid and so real. Our protagonists are also two very mature persons and I really like that. Especially considering the female protagonist Erica, she is not the damsel-in-distress; completely the opposite in fact. Their relationship is also basically a trope of the older guy-younger girl that I really love.
The family dynamics as well as the friendships are well explored here- the author has brought in a lot of variety. the relationships were also well explored – here again, the fact that the author has made it as realistic as possible without being cheesy and common, is what tends to grip the readers’ minds undoubtedly. Long distance relations, the problems that come with it, the good and the bad times, and the fact that it is not always a walk in the park is well portrayed.
Despite the fact that most of the story takes place in the high-school setting, the author has been successfully able to keep it realistic but also positive. Of course there is the obnoxious head cheerleader, along with the jocks. But they are not all shown as such. We see Tyler with his inner conflicted and vulnerable self, Miriam with her instability, the twins with their adorable-ness, as well as Danny, Ricky, Jordan with their complicated selves- the masks people wear as opposed to the actual selves that they hide… This book is a contemporary treat.
The character development was on point as you may have already learnt by now, reading the review. The plot was also well paced and interesting enough to make me finish this humongous book in literally one sitting. The writing style along with the world building blew my mind away. I definitely will be picking this up for a reread.
Verdict:
I quite enjoyed this book and it was not even a minute before I immediately picked up the sequel after finishing it. I rate this a 4.5/5 stars.

Forever Disguised (The Angelheart Saga II), Annie Woods, 2018

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Title: Forever Disguised (The Angelheart Sage II)
Author: Annie Woods
Publisher: Pegasus Elliot Mackenzie Publishers
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Pages: 322
 
Synopsis:
Erica Lindell would give anything to turn back time. To get a second chance to make the right decisions. To undo the devastating mistake that ruined everything.
Left heartbroken after the loss of the love of her life, Sasha aka Prince Alexandre, Erica has to find a way to pick up the pieces of her shattered heart and live with the consequences of her actions. But finding the strength to go on with her life is not all she has to contend with. Soon, Erica finds herself in the midst of the evil feuding behind the attack on Sasha and she has to fight to protect herself and all that is near and dear to her.
Amongst all of the confusion, pain and hurt, Tyler proposes a solution that may solve all of her problems. But will Erica go through with Tyler’s crazy scheme?
The much-anticipated second book of the Angelheart Saga Trilogy is another enchanting, heart-wrenching story about the mistakes made in the name of love, full of drama, passion and surprising twists.
 
My review:
In Forever Disguised, the sequel to First Came Forever, we see Erica coping with her loss mostly. It is again, a roller-coaster ride and the pace doesn’t wane – the author has been excellent in preventing that.
I finished reading First Came Forever in literally 6 hours, I think – just a day, and I took two days for the sequel. If I didn’t have a test, I’d have probably finished it in a day as well. This is a wonderful series. So far only these two books have been out and I have no doubt that the third will be out soon; or at least I hope it’s soon. I’m going crazy with the wait. This series has everything – there is romance, friendships, family, and the effects of differentiating views and fights among friends, family, lovers and so on.
The love, the hate, the drama, the revenge, the fairy-tale was on point. What really makes the reader stick to these books is I think how realistic and thus relatable the author has made the story. It is as if one is seeing the events take place in front of her! The themes really grab on to the characters, and their actions, and through their actions and reactions, the reader as well.
The pace of the story was well-timed. The structure, the narrative style was also balanced and could keep the reader laugh, cry and smile at appropriate times (and howl with sorrow as well!) The character development is amazingly apt and again, well-paced. Nothing is rushed, and we see the characters evolve at a natural pace. The plot development again was really well done too.
Finding grammatical or even punctuation errors is often enough to put off the reader, and I am glad I never came across any. The editors have done a good job with it.
I wished to know what happened at the end and yet I wished for the story to never end – such is the power of this author. And now that I’m done with both, I can only cross my fingers and hope that the third will be released soon!
Verdict:
I really really enjoyed this book and can now only fangirl over it as I desperately wait for the next in the series to come out soon! I rate this a 4.5/5 stars.