Book Review – Glass Sword

This is the second book in the Red Queen series. You can find my review for the first book, Red Queen, here.

What does it say about me that my favorite character in this series so far is Maven. I am drawn to broken characters.

Mare Barrow is our protagonist and our POV character. Somehow, being in her head and reading her thoughts has not endeared her to me.

The story in book two is simple. Find other red blood people with special powers before Maven does.

The author has done a fabulous job introducing so many varied magical elements. There are some intriguing powers among them, more diverse than the silver world.

The various houses all blended in my head, and I did not worry too much about remembering them. I was able to follow the main plot without attention to such details.

This is an epic fantasy tale but not in the scale of Game of thrones or Mistborn. Still, I enjoyed this book and recommend it for fantasy nerds.

Author note: If you are drawn to epic fiction, I recommend my book Heir to Malla, a historical adventure laced with love. It takes place in the fictional land of Magadha, loosely based on medieval India.

Book Review – Digging In

Diggin In is a rare book that emotionally tugged my heart, and the author molded it like clay and breathed new life into it and set it free.

Protagonist Paige experiences a life-altering tragedy, and the story is about how she copes with grief. The author faced a similar tragedy in her life, and her first-hand experience allows her to write with real authority and compassion on this issue.

Humor and hope are weaved skillfully along with grief to create a beautiful tapestry that allows readers to be touched without being drowned in emotions.

I could not put this book down and read it in two sittings. And the story lingers in me still with a pleasant after-taste.

Highly recommend this book for anyone who has lost a loved one and needs a hopeful story to regain your love for life.

Book Review – The Animal Court

Animal Court is featured in the San Diego Library Local Author Showcase, so I was excited to read the book. Author S. Faxon weaves an intricate tapestry of political intrigue in her novel.

Gertrude, the protagonist, is a smart woman who has many ideas to improve the lives of the people of Vitenka. If only the men around her listened to her.

I liked how the author equates the royal court to a court of animals. A weak king Herod, conspirers plotting for their own wealth and success, men waiting in the wings to seize power when the king fails, and a political uprising serves as the backdrop to the tale.

Not only does Gertrude need to unravel the web of treachery. She also needs to listen to her heart. Both are easier said than done.

A weighty set of supporting characters in Galina, Sam, Absalom, Herod, and Breyton keep us engaged and hooked to the story unfolding on the pages. Gertrude is a flawed character with a heart, and that makes her all the more interesting. Plenty of action, drama, and love to get us to turn the pages. Writing a satisfactory ending in a tale like this is not trivial, and the author pulls it off.

Recommend: For readers of political intrigues, historical fiction, and lovers of the game of thrones.

Book Review – Bird by Bird

Anne Lamott welcomes you into her life and bares her mind to you in this book. This is no easy task for most of us. It is almost like shedding one’s clothes and allowing the world to see you vulnerable.

Anne shows a budding writer how to do this with humor and self-deprecation. There is nothing earth-shattering revealed in this book about writing. Most of the advice offered here would be familiar to any aspiring writer or an experienced writer wanting to improve their craft.

Still, I found it useful to read this book, if only to know my struggles as a writer are not unique to me.

Recommend: For aspiring and experienced writers who want to hone their craft.

Book Review – Under the light of the Italian Moon

Inspired by a true story, this book takes the reader through world war Italy. A young girl struggles between her love for a man and her duty to her family. This is my kind of story already.

Nina falls in love with Pietro, and her love is rewarded when he comes back from America to marry her. She remains in Fonzaso after her nuptials while her husband returns to the mines in America. The long-distance romance between husband and wife sustained through letters seem surreal in this age of near-instant communication worldwide. Against the backdrop of Mussolini’s rule and world war, we walk alongside Nina as she comes of age.

The author opens a window into the lives of women in Fonzaso and peals the layers to reveal the family ties that sustain them. The matriarch fills the pages even in her absence. Her sternness masks her gentle acts of kindness. This book is a slow seven-course meal that needs to be savored bite by bite. It immerses the reader into the Italian culture and religion, celebrating the resiliency of her people. The streets came to life for me in the words of the author. I laughed and cried as the author take us on the emotional roller coaster of the war. I could picture myself standing in the warm kitchens where women gathered to cook and gossip.

Recommend: Readers of family memoirs, love stories, and world war dramas would enjoy this tale.

Have you read Heir to Malla yet? It is a medieval fiction laced with love. I am looking forward to sharing my second book in the Land of Magadha series with you readers soon.

I post reviews of books I have read, and you can view all my reviews in GoodReads or here in my blog.

Book Review – Farseer Trilogy

I read all three books in the Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb this year. Highly recommend this series for all fantasy lovers.

The author builds a vibrant world and populates them with empathetic characters. Apart from Prince Chivalry, who is revered by all, the other characters are flawed, and that makes for a wonderful read.

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As Fitz learns about his magical abilities, so do we. The ending of book two was brilliant. If you have read A Dance with Dragons by GRRM and wonder how Jon Snow is going to come back to life, Fitz’s story provides several clues. The two books have several parallels, two bastards with combined magical abilities from their parents that allow them to save the world. Recommend this series to Game of Thrones fans.

With an epic fantasy, landing the plane at the end is hard, and Robin pulls it off. The ending ties most threads and brings the arcs to a satisfactory conclusion.

Nitpicks: magic has a plot device to save Fitz’s life happens too many times in the last book. Some meandering storylines could have been trimmed in book three.

Book Reviews

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This Thanksgiving, I am grateful that I had time to do what I love: read. I finished two books and the book reviews are below.

Red Queen

I am a little late to the Red Queen party. An avid reader, especially of the fantasy genre, I am not sure how I did not discover Victoria Aveyard and her Red Queen series until now.

Worldbuilding is woven into the story beautifully, and the author reveals layers slowly for the protagonist and the reader. Mare is a flawed female lead, my favorite kind. Her heart and our’s swings between Cal and Maven. 

The magic in the story feels very real, and as I read the pages, I could almost feel my palm spark. The author has written an excellent cast of side characters to keep our heart rate up.

The plot moves at breaking speed and keeps the reader anxiously turning pages. The twists, while shocking, have enough hints through the books that you can see how it came to be.

I look forward to diving into the next book.

Warning: Gruesome deaths and battle scenes and violence.

Recommend for fantasy readers and game of thrones fans.

The Duchess War

I love Happily Ever After stories. When I saw Courtney Milan listed as NYT Best Selling author for her self-published novel, I had decided to read her books as a fellow author.

I started with The Duchess War like her web site recommended. 

A spunky girl pretending to be a mouse, and a big-hearted Duke who wants to do what is right, encounter each other behind a curtain, both hiding from the world. 

As the story evolves, the hiding behind feels out of character for both of them. 

The best character for me was Dowager Duchess. The author portrays her frailty in the early years, and the price she paid for her freedom and her struggles realistically. 

Mrs. Marshall, who appears just for a few pages, has a similar impact.

Sebastian and Violet spiced the pages and looking forward to their story in a later book. 

Overall, I understand the Duke’s reluctance to hope, but the pages don’t do justice to his character arc. Similarly, while I grasp Minnie’s fear, her story does not tug my heart.

That said, the story is fast-paced, and there is a happy ending and plenty of kissing.

Warning: Explicit sexual acts

Recommended for Downton Abbey fans.

Book Review: Everyday People

Everyday People by Salini Vineeth is a delightful collection of eight short stories that depict life in modern urban India.

I grew up reading Tamil magazines, and my favorites were the short stories in them. In a page or two, to create an impactful character and narrate a story that touches your heart is a difficult task, and Salini pulls it off.

The blue light had a nice twist. The first steps brimmed with a mother’s love and the accompanying worry every mother feels. Each story is wonderfully crafted, and you can picture the crowded streets of India buzzing with people going about their days as you read these tales. Many stories feature a female protagonist, and I loved the window into their lives.

Recommend this book for fellow Tamil magazine fans who read them hidden inside their school books. These stories are great for busy folks that want to read more but don’t find the time. You can read each story in under ten minutes.

I am an author of medieval fiction “Heir to Malla” that is sale now in US, UK and India.

I am currently writing my second book “War of the Three Kings“.

I post reviews of books I have read, and you can view all my reviews in GoodReads or here in my blog.

Book Review: Who threw Draco down the Chimney

I write medieval stories, so I looked forward to reading this mystery novel with a modern Indian female protagonist. Smita Bhattacharya did not disappoint me.

In “Who threw Draco down the chimney?”, Smita brings Romania and Sibiu alive. With the folklore interspersed with the present day, the city is very much part of the story. I would love to visit one day. The eyes did give me the creeps though. Nice touch to include pictures of the city in the book.

Several threads are running in the book, and they are all weaved together to a satisfactory conclusion. I enjoyed the time jumps from present-day to the past.

This is not a typical mystery book where the dead body is found in chapter one, and the rest of the novel is devoted to unraveling the mystery.

Darya plays an active role in the story. She relies on her intuition as much as her research to solve the mysteries (there is more than one).

Darya is a strong modern woman, and I enjoyed her portrayal. I have not read the first two books, and that did not prevent me from enjoying this book. The first two books might have helped me understand Darya better because the reader only gets brief glimpses into her past.

Warnings: Gruesome deaths, Teen sex with an older adult, Romanian folklore and legends are not always depicted positively in the story.

Who would enjoy the book: Mystery lovers and readers looking to read books based on a strong female protagonist.

Preorder here

I am an author of medieval fiction “Heir to Malla” that is available on Kindle Unlimited

I post reviews of books I have read, and you can view all my reviews in GoodReads or here in my blog.

Book Review: Recipe for Persuasion

“Reading is the key that opens doors to many good things in life. Reading shaped my dreams, and more reading helped me make my dreams come true.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

I have read Persuasion by Jane Austen a couple of times. Anne Elliot and Frederick Wentworth were engaged in their youth and meet again a decade or so later. There is one conversation in particular between Anne and Captain Harville that I loved in the book. In typical Austen fashion, there is a happily ever after ending.

Recipe for Persuasion is a romance novel influenced by Austen’s masterpiece. Ash and Rico are high school sweethearts and meet again a decade or so later. The similarity with Persuasion ends there, and Sonali has made this her own story. It is like an Indian dish, borrowed from several cultures and harmonized into a delightful curry.

I love Ash’s family. Aunt and the cousins add to the richness of the book. Portraying the strong and vibrant Indian family culture is a specialty of the author. Ash’s mother Shobi is a centerpiece to understanding Ash, and the author peels the layers gradually, revealing one thing at a time.

I enjoyed reading Shobi and Mina’s tales, two strong middle-aged women in their own right, and their relationship.

Ash and Rico’s present-day story unfolds through a cooking show contest that would be familiar to viewers of Food Network.

Not a fan of: Rico being completely in the dark about Ash’s father is a plot contrivance and did not seem believable. And while Rico’s feelings for Ash comes across clearly, Ash’s feelings for him are left to the readers’ imagination.

I did not read the first book in the Rajes series and that did not deter me from enjoying this book. I saw hints for the next book – Dashwood?!?

If you are a fan of Austen and the romance genre in general, this book is for you.

I am an author of medieval fiction “Heir to Malla” that is available on Kindle Unlimited.

I post reviews of books I have read, and you can view all my reviews in GoodReads or here in my blog.