The Stargazer’s Embassy: Another take on aliens

The Stargazer's Embassy

The Stargazeer’s Emabssy

By

Eleanor Lerman

I got this book from NetGalley, and this was the pleasant surprise. My selection of this book was based on the quirky name it has and the description given on the book cover. I mean The Stargazer’s Embassy sounds like an odd concept! I  actually did not even know what to expect, but in the end, it was good that I did not have any preconceived notion. The book is of-course about the aliens, but more than aliens, it felt like a peek in the brains of the different stories that float around the aliens. The book’s heroine, Julia, is an oddball who can see the aliens everywhere. They are the part of her life, but they have always been on sidelines. Julia meets a professor cum the practioner of psychology named John, and that is how she gets sucked further into the aliens.

The books is a different take on aliens. I have read quite a few alien books, but most of these books have been in the field of the romance or intergalactic war. I do carry my towel with me as well for hitchhiking. 😉

But all this paints a picture in the mind where we are able to communicate with the aliens, some establish relationships too(friends, family, romance etc.) But this book is making me think differently. The book talks about a situation in which a few people are abducted, and they carry with themselves the trauma of that experience. The book treats the abduction by the other race in such an other worldly manner. There is a psychiatric treatment for these people, support groups, books, theories etc.

I have always thought about the aliens as a race–either in their romanticized form or probably in their enemy-who-are-going-to destroy the earth form. This book doesn’t take any midway. It is so realistic in its description of the confusion about what the aliens want that I am also with the characters in the story, confused as to where all this is leading to.  I don’t know how the book is going to end, but it has made a home in my mind for now. We all talk about aliens, but we rarely talk about the victims who have to go through the experience of trying to decipher what these aliens are actually looking for and want.

There are so many frightening aspects this novel brought to forefront.

Here is the official summary of the book.

The Stargazer’s Embassy explores the frightening phenomenon of alien abduction from a different point of view: in this story, it is the aliens who seem fearful of Julia Glazer, the woman they are desperately trying to make contact with. Violent and despairing after the murder of the one person she loved, a psychiatrist who was studying abductees, Julia continues to rebuff the aliens until her relationships with others who have met “the things,” as she calls them, including a tattoo artist, a strange man who can take photographs with the power of his mind, and an abductee locked up in a mental hospital, force Julia deeper into direct alien contact and a confrontation about what death means to humans and aliens alike.

What I liked about the book

  1. Characters and idea: The book is filledd with quite interestng characters. I mean, apart from the title, there is a character which can actually click actual pictures of vision in someone’s mind. There are aliens who are so out-of-place in the dimension that they don’t know how to behave like humans.
  2. Details and writing: I generally do not know much about alien abductions, fictional or non-fictional, but the way this book gave a perspective, it was a way which I found quite realistic. I  mean, of course, I don’t know the people who believe in that, but the details were so beautifully woven in the story that it never felt unreal. There was the direct connection in the story.
  3. The plot: If it is not clear till now, I enjoyed the plot a lot. Although I was not much into the ending that the book had, I still was won over by the plot. It is a mix of intrigue, psychology, sci-fi, and language. It just had me there. There were times when I felt that the book was going too slow, but I just could not keep it down because I wanted to know what is going to happen next.

What I disliked

  1. The ending: The ending of the book just did not resonate with me. I have no idea how the book could have been ended in any other way, but that ending just felt a bit forced to me.
  2. The uneven pacing: There were few sections when there was nothing happening. I knew while I was readig the book that things were happening, but it felt a bit dragged because I could not understand why they were happening. There were moments, small ones, when I thought about keeping the book down because I just could not understand what was happening. But I’m glad I did read the end. And if I try to recall those moments when I wanted to stop reading, I cannot recall them.


Final Verdict


The book is definitely worth reading. If yoou start the book, do preverse till the end. You won’t be disappointed. The book is novel in its plot, characters, and writing.

Four Stars

 

 

 

 

The Second Bride: A NetGalley Review

I made a promise to myself this year to stay true to my Galley reviews. I am still learning ins and outs of NetGalley, but I think I have finally understood a few of them them. So, this is my review of a NetGalley book named as “The Second Bride”.

 

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Very rarely one comes across such a bleak book as this, bleak not in terms of writing, but bleak in terms of the events it showcases. There is certain hopelessness in the storylines. There is no villain in the story as such, but there are only people, relationships and the life that is just difficult.

But before I start the review, a small summary of the book:

Summary in my words

The Second Bride is the book which works in two storylines. The first storyline is of Ellen who is living in “our” time. This is the second marriage for both Ellen and husband, and they both have a daughter from their previous marriages. They also have a daughter together named Sophie(It sounds confusing here, but it is not confusing in the book at all!)

Ellen feels that she is in a perfect marriage. Her attic has been newly fixed where she could work now, and she believes she will be able to give all the time to her work and family. But all her plans are unraveled when her Husband’s daughter from the previous marriage, Annabelle, comes home. She tries to make a home for her, but Annabelle is never able to adapt. Slowly, Ellen realizes what she thought was a perfectly happy family is slowly unraveling.

The second story starts when Ellen finds a death certificate at her home during renovation of attic. This death certificate belonged to our second character, Sarah. Sarah lived in time much before and had a lot of tragedy befall on her. This story covers how she takes care of her sister (Autistic in current times, but feeble mind in that time) and herself in her bleak circumstances. Sarah also end up becoming a second wife to a well-to-do clerk who already has a daughter.

Both the stories mirror themselves in terms of the family strife and yet they are quite different with each other. Both the step-mothers try to make adjustments with their husband’s daughter and have a kind of difficult relationship. Their personal life aggravates because of these difficulties.

What I liked

  • Suspense: The story has a bit of suspense about what is going to happen that made me turn the pages and kept me interested in the book.
  • Topics touched upon: The author touches upon topics like suicide, the workhouses of past etc. and weaves them into the story. I thought it was a brave attempt for the story.

What I disliked

  • Bleakness of the story: As I said above, the story is too bleak for my taste. There is nary a single ray of happiness. The small burst of happiness that comes at the end seem forced to me. Every person in the story is so burdened by the darkness that I felt hopeless after reading the whole story. Probably this is a personal issue, but that bothered me. A lot.
  • Ending: I did not like the way the story was ended. The about turn and the remorse that was showcased in the end did not resonate with me.
  • Characters: I think that was where the problem started for me with the characters. I just could not relate to them. Ellen is the main character, but she is forever in her own head. I mean she does not believe in the communication, but rather thinks a lot. This is quite natural, but I just could not get into the thought process.

Overall review

Being a second wife or second husband cannot be easy for anyone. The story tries to capture those difficulties in the mix of modern and Gothic settings. The book might serve beautifully for some other readers, but it failed to captivate me. I was indeed mildly interested in knowing what the author wanted to say, but beyond that the book did not appeal to me much.

Ratings

For this book only I feel like inventing half the star because then it could be two and half stars, but for now, I will rate it 2 stars.

Two Stars

 

 

 

The Summer That Melted Everything–A Book Review

I have been sick! So sick that I was not able to get on phone or laptop even. For almost a week, it has just been me and my radio.

In my last post, I talked about the “Devil” and the book that made me think about the devil so much. Finally, I bring to you the review of the favorite book of mine of this year: The Summer That Melted Everything.

There are very few times when you do things out courtesy, but then you feel blessed. This book was like that. The author approached me for reading the book through the blog, and I said yes because she sounded sincere. I had no idea what I would have been missing if I had not read the book. This is the debut book by the author, but I can tell you it is mind-blowing. The way it is written is poetry in itself. The words, the flow, the suspense, and the questions that book raise– you are sucked into the world the author talks about.

Book Summary

 

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Fielding Bliss has never forgotten the summer of 1984: the year a heat wave scorched Breathed, Ohio. The year he became friends with the devil.

Sal seems to appear out of nowhere – a bruised and tattered thirteen-year-old boy claiming to be the devil himself answering an invitation. Fielding Bliss, the son of a local prosecutor, brings him home where he’s welcomed into the Bliss family, assuming he’s a runaway from a nearby farm town.

When word spreads that the devil has come to Breathed, not everyone is happy to welcome this self-proclaimed fallen angel. Murmurs follow him and tensions rise, along with the temperatures as an unbearable heat wave rolls into town right along with him. As strange accidents start to occur, riled by the feverish heat, some in the town start to believe that Sal is exactly who he claims to be. While the Bliss family wrestles with their own personal demons, a fanatic drives the town to the brink of a catastrophe that will change this sleepy Ohio backwater forever.

The book starts with a description of 1984s and then explains how Devil arrived in Breathed, Ohio. Autopsy Bliss is the educated man who writes an invitation to Devil in his religious fervor. And Devil arrives in the form of a 13 year old boy Sal. Fielding, son of Autopsy, was first to encounter Sal, and he becomes the first friend of Sal, the devil. How appearance of the devil blurred the lines between the right and wrong, good and bad, is what the story is about. The story is about demons, and how we all uses different excuses to let that demon live and breathe.

I am not a writer enough to explain the plot of the story. You have to read it to truly understand the magic and mourn the devil.

What I LOVED

  1. Questions the book asked: The first thing I loved about the book is that it made me question myself. The story is so woven that there is no hero, no villain. All are in the shades of the grey. You will left wondering what’s right and what’s wrong.
  2. Plot: The plot of the books is tightly woven. There is not even a single chapter, single line, single word wasted. Everything connects with the other. Till the end, you’ll be biting your nails to understand what actually happened.
  3. Description: The book has amazing description. In fact the author has done a huge amount of research to present this description. The 80s are so well described that I felt that author was present there– seeing the story unfolding.
  4. Writing: Amazing, amazing writing. I know I’m repeating myself, but the books is poetry in itself. The book is filled with so many insights that my mobile is marked with all the highlights. There were times when I ended up highlighting pages after pages.

 

I am sharing few of the quotes from the book which just moved my heart and made me think so much. Probably these will make you think too.

“It was a heat that didn’t just melt tangible things like ice, chocolate, Popsicles. It melted all the intangibles too. Fear, faith, anger, and those long-trusted templates of common sense. It melted lives as well, leaving futures to be slung with the dirt of the gravedigger’s shovel.”

“After I fell, I kept repeating to myself, God will forgive me. God will forgive me. Centuries of repeating this, I started to shorten it to He’ll forgive me. Then finally to one word, He’ll. He’ll. Somewhere along the way, I lost that apostrophe and now it’s only Hell. But hidden in that one word is God will forgive me. God will forgive me. That is what is behind my door, you understand. A world of no apostrophes and, therefore, no hope.”
In the amphitheater of the great beyond, we all do our own autopsies . These self-imposed autopsies are done not on the physical body of our being but on the spirit of it.
I could actually type the whole book. It will not be enough to express my fascination and love for the book.

 

Overall Views:

I cried like a baby when I reached the end of the book. I thought for days after I finished the book. I still want to question why that happened, why that happened, but in the end, the book changed me. With each sentence, each instance it showed, each question it raised, the way I see the world has changed.

I can read and reread and then reread the book. It is that beautiful of the book.

My rating: Five Stars.

Five Stars

Do, do read the book. You will not repent it. This is a promise. It’s an intense book which will make you think and make you question. And you will be left with the afterglow that an incredible book leaves.

 

 

FrostBite by Joshua Bader

Frostbite (Modern Knights #1)

 

Books’ Name: FrostBite

Author’s Name: Joshua Bader

Publisher: City Owl Press

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Colin Fisher is a young man with a lot of problems on his plate: a dying father, a dead car doubling as a home, and a mysteriously disappeared fiancée. You’d think with a magical inclination he’d be able to turn it all around, but not so much.

Yet his bad luck appears to be on the way out when the CEO of a multinational corporation offers him a job. It’s a sweet gig as a personal wizard with a fat paycheck. It just has one catch. The paranoid CEO isn’t a mere hypochondriac, he’s been hexed with an authentic ancient curse.

Now Colin is the only thing standing between his new boss and a frozen bundle of fangs, claws, and rage. If he can’t stop the cannibal ice demon in time to save his new boss, it’ll be back to living out of his dead car. That is, if he even survives the battle.

 

Frostbite was a netgalley book—and a very interesting one at that. I was attracted to the book because of its blurb. I mean how cool it is to have one’s personal wizard? If I had one, I would make him/her do all the work of cleaning, washing etc. (Okay, I do have a maid for all that), but a personal wizard will be far more interesting. So, I wanted to see what does the personal wizard do in the book.

But in reality, this story is more than the story of a personal wizard. The story is fast-paced and quite interesting journey of a vagabond wizard to the realization of why he became the wizard. The story has a lot of world-building which happens along with the story as we discover the new world with the Wizard Colin Fisher himself.

What I liked

Fast-Pace: The story is written in quite a fast pace. This fast pace keeps the readers engaged throughout the story. You won’t feel that the story is dragging too much.

World-Building: Very few books are able to make the reader believe the world they are building is possible. This story truly does establish that belief and hence it made the book more interesting for me.

Magic: The interesting way the magic is used made me smile in the book. It is creative and innovative.

What I disliked

Unanswered questions/underutilized characters: There are some characters which just touch and go like the lake faerie. I wish there was more to these characters and their roles in the story Probably the reason for these characters are in the coming novel, but for now they feel underutilized and fillers (which one doesn’t notice because of the pace of the story, but I still wanted to know why they were in the story like what is their long-term purpose.)

Overall opinion

It is an interesting book which sets the stage for the coming sequel. You won’t find the main story incomplete in this part of the book, but it leaves the readers with enough thirst to wait for the next part and see what exactly is going to happen. It is like you have decided to enter a dungeon and this is the first room, and you are really curious to know what was the reason author pulled you in this dungeon.

Definitely a must-read for the fans who enjoy such fantasy.

My ratings:

Four Stars