Tag Archives: #bookreview

A Mahabharata based extravaganza!

A Mahabharata-inspired retelling

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

I read the first book in this series quite some time ago and from what I remember, that book concentrated quite a bit on the world-building aspect and the construction of the setting. It revolved around the princes and the royal families and their relationships with each other. But in Part 2, which recently was released recently, the focus is given instead on the backstories of the characters, their pasts, and their emotional buildup – all culminating in the ultimate war.

The question about retellings

In the Burnt Empire series, the author has given a fantastic retelling of the epic Mahabharata, but has altered a few essential aspects of it, so as to keep it entertaining. But while this may be a controversial point, I do think that retellings, especially in fantasy, do not have to remain completely true to the original story – if it does, where is the scope for imagination?

World-building

Nonetheless, I think that in this second book, the characters have grown significantly than in the first one. There is clearly a lot of attention given to details and the way the author has intertwined all the different narratives, is a job well done. Banker is meticulous with his description of the world in the book – Arthaloka. His attention to detail is uniquely reflected in the plotline and the reader’s imagination’s eye. The world-building ensnares you completely and leaves no possible exit.  I quite enjoyed the book.

Click here to check out my review of the first book!

The human/moral dilemma

Like in the first book, the author has continued to draw upon the essence of the age of confusion that the Mahabharata implies. There is no longer any binary. There is no clear division between what is solely good and what is evil. Everyone is drawn to a point where they have to or have already made decisions, that were not truly evil but not right, either. The moral conundrum that we humans face is on point in this book. It is dubious, the decisions we personally make sometimes as well as the ones made by the characters in this book.

Verdict:

However, the ending was not… how shall I put it? Not very satisfactory for me. It could have been a bit clearer I suppose. In spite of it all, this Mahabharata retelling – Upon a Burning Throne 2 was an enjoyable read for me. I rate it 4/5 stars.

Title: Upon A Burning Throne (Part 2 of The Burnt Empire Saga)

Author: Ashok K Banker

Publisher: Simon & Schuster India

Amazon: https://www.amazon.in/Upon-Burning-Throne-Part-2/dp/938679750X/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=upon+a+burning+throne+2&qid=1571664653&sr=8-1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/47896474-upon-a-burning-throne–part-2

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 .

My 21st Birthday Book Haul 2019!


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Thank you all so much for your wishes! I was blown away by all the messages you guys sent me! And well, now according to that poll, here i. With my #birthday #bookhaul . I didn’t buy many books this time because I’m out of space. So I bought 5 books I’ll be needing for uni classes and only 2 for … Umm recreation (?)
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1. The African Trilogy by #chinuaachebe from @everymanslibrary
2. Leaves of Grass by #waltwhitman from @fingerprintpublishingbooks
3. A Streetcar Named Desire by #tennesseewilliams from @penguinindia @penguinclassics
4. Death of a Salesman by #arthurmiller
5. The Grapes of Wrath by #johnsteinbeck
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6. A Gathering of Shadows by @veschwab from @titanbooks
7. A Conjuring of Light #ADSOM
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I also got a #bulletjournal for the second half of the year. It’s a dotted one from @menorah.stationery and I’m loving it! I post my bulletjournal pics in @pretty_little_dilettante so you can check that out. I also got a @tombow_india black #brushpen and I’m loving it’s smoothness!
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#qotd : when are your birthdays guys? And what was the most memorable birthday you had?

An interaction with Devika Das about the upcoming release of the revised edition of her bestseller The Mind Game: Master your emotions to achieve success

The Mind Game: Master your emotions to achieve success is a self-help book by author Devika Das. With emphasis on emotional intelligence, stress and other related mental health issues, it has been widely read and deeply loved by its audience. It also been sold out in many occasions, the most recent of which include the NBT Imphal Book Fair, 2018. So on the 14th of June, Thursday, I had the opportunity to talk with Devika Das about the upcoming release of the revised edition of this book, coming July.
NS: Good afternoon, ma’am. Hope you’re having a great day.
DD: Good afternoon, yes, thank you. How are you doing?
NS: I’m doing well, ma’am thank you very much. I would like to say how  grateful I am for this opportunity.
DD: Of course, you’re welcome.
NS: Ma’am since we’re talking about the The Mind Game today, can you please tell me a bit about it?
DD: The Mind Game: Master your emotions to achieve success is a self-help book, stressing basically on emotional intelligence, one’s awareness about it and how this can help in tackling different situations one faces on a daily basis.
 
NS: What inspired you to write this book?
DD: I have come across many instances where people end their lives because of trivial reasons. And it affected me deeply, because the thought itself of ending your own life is so harsh- it’s cruel to your own self. The important thing here, is the reason behind the actions – why are you feeling like that? What is making you feel so pressurized that you think that suicide in the only solution to get rid of your problem? Why are you in that state of mind? All these questions made me very curious and played a major role in making me write the book.
NS: I’m sure a lot of people will benefit from this book ma’am.
DD: Yes, I have got a lot of positive feedback; many of my readers have read the book twice or thrice and love the tips I’ve provided. All of these tips are based on my personal experiences, as well as the scientific research I have done- talked with various psychologists and general people as well.
NS: Of course, I have seen two of my cousins commit suicide, and it’s unfortunate-
DD: I’m sorry to hear that.
NS: Thank you. So yes, we cannot deny its presence in society today- there are many people who do it- who think that suicide is only way.
DD: Yes, and with that view you lose any interest in life and that is something which is either due to self-created pressure or external, and sometimes both. So it is very necessary that people become aware and realize, as well as face the challenge. Suicide can never be the way out. That nobody except you, yourself can help you in tackling such situations and dealing with pressure.
NS: Can you please tell me, when this book came out?
DD: The first edition came out in October 2016 and the revised edition is coming out next month, i.e., July.
NS: I hope my followers will also love to give your book a read. I myself, having been affected from the consequences of suicide, in the family, feel very personally about mental health issues. And I know that so many people have been affected by it as well- either indirectly or directly- and so, your book will be a great help.
DD: Thank you so much.
NS: Well, thank you ma’am for this wonderful opportunity. Best wishes for the upcoming release; I will keep an eye out, myself!
DD: Thank you. Have a great day
NS: Have a good day!
 

Between the Sea and Stars, Chantal Gadoury, 19 June 2018

Publishers: Parliament House Press
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I read this book in one day and let me tell you, I was left hungry for the next! Between the Sea and Stars, is a mermaid tale, a loose retelling of The Little Mermaid at bits- both have a strong and curious female protagonist.
The story revolves around Lena, who is a Merrow (a mermaid) living with her father and brother, on the outskirts of the capital city of Skagerrak. We see her as a feisty and curious young woman, deeply involved with the tragedy of their former queen who had been murdered by her human lover. As you might probably gather, she was very much interested in the life about the waters and would always imagine going up there. We see in her brother and father, Javelin and Carrick respectively, loving and supportive men, who teach her to depend on herself. And like the summary states- when Javelin is called to join a clan of Merrow soldiers bent on protecting their waters from human invasion, Lena resists Merrow law and ventures to the shore with no choice but to swim to land. With newfound legs, Lena is whisked away on a new adventure with new friends and new trouble. Everyone seems to want something from her as intrigue lurks around every corner.
Following her new life on land, we see her fumbling with the ways of the humans resulting in almost funny incidents. Chantal Gadoury has beautifully woven a tale of friendship, love, and fantasy with an exotic thread. The importance that was given to the world building specifically, was impeccable. I honestly wish to know more about the history and lives of the Merrows under the depths of the ocean. The plot in itself was medium-paced although there were certainly some very gripping fast-paced scenes; however, in consideration of the fact that there is definitely a sequel coming out, the scenes have been interspersed with perfect timing. The narration was in the third person limited and it made me so intrigued because I wanted to know everything- in this she has preserved quite the amount of mystery element as well.
I also liked the way she has worked on her characters- most of them are as real as can be. The character growth has been of a significant factor in this novel- gradual which made it very relatable as well as realistic. I definitely am looking forward to seeing Asger in the sequel! (Want to know who he is? Well, no better way than to read the book! And it’s coming out on 19th of June!!)
Moving on to the cover, I really love it and long to have a signed copy of this amazing first book in the Lena series. I rate this a 5/5 stars, with a promise to get my hands on the sequel as soon as it is out!

Take by heart forever, by Arpit Agarwal, 2018

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Blurb:
“Meet Siddhartha, a good lawyer but a bad human.
Meet Rahul, a good human but a bad doctor.
And meet Shuchi, a good human, and an exceptionally well doctor.
Shuchi tries to make a good human out of Siddhartha and a good doctor out of Rahul, but a bomb blast transforms their lives.
Read this revolutionary tale to know how Siddhartha will get a unique PIL passed in the courtroom and Rahul will perform a life-changing surgery, to save the girl they love.”
In the plot, there is a great mixture among the different aspects of thrill, romance, friendship etc. The love triangle like I have said before, is engaging. The story at the end becomes almost tragic and while completely captivating. At its heart, I feel that this book is a romance, with a distinct impression of it being an epistolary novel as well.
The characters were very well built. In Siddharth, we see a ruthless winning machine- a lawyer who intends to win his cases by hook or by crook, most often the ones which are not perhaps on the legal side. It is only towards the end that we understand his childhood as a factor that drove this need for such power and hunger. He perhaps never knew that there was something apart from winning as well- until he met the heroine of our story. On the other hand, Rahul is a carefree young fellow who returns from the USA after getting his medical dree and joins the hospital where our heroine works, back home in India. Shuchi, the heroine in question, is portrayed as a dynamic force throughout the story- whose actions and views greatly determine how the story goes indirectly, as she greatly affects directly, the ways of the people around her, specifically Siddharth and Rahul. We see the classic trope of the love triangle in this novel and I cannot say that I didn’t like it.
The problems however that I had with the story are firstly the cover; I do not think it portrayed the idea well. Other than that, I truly believe that the editing was rushed through, so much so that I was frustrated and skipped over a few bits. I would really suggest the author to use a beta-reader and then a subsequent editing process after that so as to attain a refined nature about his future works. I also feel that the dialogues should have a bit more a editing done to them, other than that the overall dialogue aspect can be worked on. Keeping in mind all of these, I rate it a 4/5 stars.

An Enchantment of Ravens, Margaret Rogerson, 2017

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An Enchantment of Ravens, by Margaret Rogerson, 2017, was a book that was very much hyped about when it first came out. And no wonder, because have you seen that amazing cover? I mean, I think it is partly one of the reasons why it was so much hyped about even before it came out.
On that note, have you read my post about the importance of book covers and the so-not-followed proverb “Do not judge a book by its cover”, especially when it comes to books? Check it out here! First Impressions: About judging a book by its cover
So anyway, I gave this book a 4 out of 5 stars. I did not think that it was that amazing for it to have a 5-star rating. The concept was very new I admit, but still, it could just not garner a 5 from me. Apart from that, the female protagonist is a nice character and this new trend where females are empowered is very good to see. It is going to be a really good influence on the young generation and for that fact alone, I really love this new trend. Rook as a prince did not do much justice, I think. He just seemed very helpless in the hands of his society where every action of his could bring unwarranted competition. Gadfly was an interesting character though and I felt like he truly is the behind-the-scenes maker/creator of the book.
Of the setting, there is nothing I could complain about. The lush scenery is something very rustic and I have always loved the pastoral. The fairy realms too were a curious and beautiful place. I think that I would be very happy if a prequel could be released that covers Rook’s relations with Gadfly before Isobel ever entered the picture, the Wild Hunt, the Alder King and also Rook’s previous love interest. There are a lot of loops left behind and I think that the author has done this deliberately. Well, if so, I will be very glad, for there are so many things I would like to know more about the characters. And yet, to my greatest horror, it is to be a standalone! What a shame!
The supernatural element was very gripping and influential throughout the book and this fantasy is quite the hooker and I fell, hook, line and sinker! But moving on, I thought that was a scope for more political palace intrigue and some more action scene perhaps, and definitely, more relationships should have been shown beyond the Rook-Isobel one.
There have been many uncountable comparisons between this book and the ACOTAR series, but in my opinion, ACOTAR is so much better than this. However, I cannot deny the fact that An Enchantment of Ravens was an instant New York Times Bestseller and as such there must be some merit to it. my final review on it would thus be that if the author decides to write a prequel/sequel, perhaps I would give this book another chance.
However, I would also recommend all Fae/fantasy/romance lovers to give this book a try! It is definitely worth it!

First Impressions: About judging a book by its cover

 
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We should never judge a book by its cover- that’s a proverb we’ve heard so many times now that I bet, whenever we judge somebody by their outward appearance, the inner voice always quips with these words. It’s inevitable. No matter how much we tell ourselves that it is bad, we fall back to our own habits- and who better to be put forward as examples but us- the incorrigible bookworms and bibliophiles!
One of my favorite books is Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. I have the edition, by Maple Press. Now, it’s not the most beautiful book cover in the world, despite the fact that I am personally biased with Rhett holding Scarlett close, and her wearing that magnificent red gown. It’s something I love, but it is not the prettiest cover in the world. And I have accepted that. However, there is a story I need to tell when it comes to this. I was left devastated after I finished reading this masterpiece and was looking for a suitable book to read next, preferably a sequel or a prequel. But as time passed on, I got over this heartbreak (I was a mere year 6 student after all, not even in high-school!), and forget all about this search. Then one day, I was at the annual book fair in my city and as soon as I enter this shop, my eyes (and I was not wearing my glasses mind you, without which I am practically blind) zoom in to this book, laid down about 5 feet away from me and around 6 feet off the ground in its shelf, its beautiful spine left to the viewer’s eyes. There was an instant connection. I ask the shopkeeper to bring down that book and lo and behold! It’s Scarlett- the sequel to Gone With the Wind! Of course I got the book and I still reread it every now and then.
What I want to share with you all through this post of mine is that indescribable and irrational bling that glazes out eyes as soon as they fall on a book with a beautiful cover. I have long left behind the guilt I might feel whenever I buy a book just for the sake of the attractive cover. What can I say, I fall hard for pretty ones! And I mean, who doesn’t? It’s a different thing entirely that some people do not act on it while other, like me, do.
The reason I am writing this, is because I recently read this non-fiction book called The Covering of Books by award-winner Jhumpa Lahiri. It describes how close and how important the whole process of making a suitable cover is, for the author. It’s their baby after all. This book made me think about how important it is for the cover to be able to convey the meaning the author wants to, to the audience. And in the process, if it turns out to be a bestseller just because of the looks alone, well..
I suppose this was just a random scribble. I am working on the review for the book and I’ll definitely be posting it soon. Meanwhile, I’m going to wish you luck- in completing that TBR pile, collecting enough money to order that book set you’ve wanted to for a while and so on! Happy reading and happy buying!
 
Disclaimer: The picture in the featured pane DOES NOT belong to me. I got it off the Internet.