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.

Book Review: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

I read all three hunger games books when they came out and saw the movies. While the trilogy was dark, the theme overall was uplifting.

In the prequel, Suzanne Collins takes a risk in using a POV character whose thoughts are cold and calculating. She is a talented writer and pulls off the challenge. But there were moments in the book when I wished I heard Lucy or Sejanus’s views rather than Snow’s.

Few parts of the book reminded me of reading Lord of the Flies. My outlook on humanity is hopeful, so reading Lord of the Flies depressed me, and reality is dismal enough that I prefer my reading to be inspiring.

I liked reading about the early hunger game structure and how it evolved. I loved getting the back story for the song “Are you…”.

Good to see katniss the plant, make an appearance.

Lucy Gray (Original by Wordsworth and modified by Suzanne) song featured in the book was beautiful, though Snow’s interpretation grated me. That is the challenge of being in such a mind. Lucy Gray’s character is haunting.

Overall, a dark grim book that is splendidly written to portray humanity and its flaws. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you are intrigued by how the mind of an aloof, distant character works and what influences such a person, this book does a good showcase of it.

Book Review: Talk Nerdy to Me

Book Review of the third book in the Bookish Boyfriends series, Talk Nerdy to Me, a YA Romance.

Hi there! I am the author of Heir to Malla, a medieval fiction loosely based on India. Family drama, sword fights, romance, game of thrones are all present in the book. The story revolves around the royal siblings, Princess Meera and Prince Jay, and their human hearts in conflict.

While I am not writing, I love to read, and I just finished reading the third book in the Bookish Boyfriends series, Talk Nerdy to Me, a YA Romance.

I love the premise for the series, the protagonist identifying with a character in a novel and drawing parallels to what is happening in their real lives to what is happening to the character in the book. This is the dream of most writers, and these beloved classics have brought comfort to many of us readers. I am waiting to see what classic book is used in the fourth book of the series.

I am a stem girl, and I have coached science olympiad, so the science fair and nerd talk all resonated with me.

I wore a T-Shirt and jeans all four years of college, so I understood Eliza’s struggles with her body and her desire to be valued for her brain. Her final embrace of both was a welcome first step.

Curtis and Eliza are cute together. I did wish Curtis exhibited a wider range of emotions, including anger and frustration, but he is adorable, smart, and thoughtful.

Eliza’s insecurities are no match for Curtis’s persistence. A good role model for a teen relationship based on mutual respect.

I did not quite understand Eliza’s parents. For two brilliant scientists who seem to love and respect each other, their blind spot towards Eliza is not well reasoned. I got hints of it. Overall though, they provide the needed backdrop for Eliza’s struggles and her growth.

Merri and her family provide the much-needed warmth in the story, especially her dad. And a cast of supporting characters that would be familiar to the reader from books 1 and 2.

This is an engaging story you can read in one sitting.

Book Review: The Henna Artist

Alka Joshi brings Jaipur alive. I can taste the food, smell her herbs, and picture the beautiful henna designs. She has painted a beautiful portrait of two sisters: Lakshmi and Radha.

The yearning in Lakshmi is palpable throughout the book. For love, for recognition, for respect, and independence. She is a grey character whose growth happens organically. I am a mother, so I did scream in my head a few times to ask Lakshmi to go after her sister. To comfort, to guide, to scold, and to hug her. Sign of good writing to get me emotionally vested.

Radha is a child of thirteen. I was mad at Lakshmi for not understanding that. My heart broke many times for what this child had to endure. I had this insane desire to protect her from the minute she appears on the page. Hats off to Alka Joshi for creating such a beautiful character.

Many side characters are carefully woven into the story, adding depth to the story.

Lakshmi and Radha, two characters imbued with humanity and all its flaws. Looking forward to the sequel.

Book link