Temple of Avinasi- Once Upon A Time Mythology Novel

Temple of Avinasi

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The book was received as part of Reviewers Programme on The Tales Pensieve.

I selected this book  for two reasons. First was because its story sounded interesting, and I am  intrigued by the legend of Kalki. For those who don’t know, Kalki is supposed to be the final incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Secondly, this books completes the mythology part of my Once Upon a Time challenge.

Synopsis

The world faces oblivion as the four thousand year old Epic Wars threatens it with a renewed assault. This time, the Dark Seekers, alien invaders who were once prevented access through the great shield which protected the Earth, have returned. The Light Seekers and the mortals must do all they can to fight them back once again like they did in ages past. However, with a Dark Lord at their Helm, the Dark Seekers are nearly undefeatable now. Nearly, for in the devastation that they leave, they also raise the cries of the people for the saviour they have long awaited. The prophecized tenth Avatar of Vishnu, a juggernaut myths and legends named Kalki. And in this fray, two fourteen year old boys innocently oblivious to the machinations of a secret cult dedicated to finding Kalki, try to spend their childhood as boys do. But the fate of the world depends on them and the hour demands the final avatar of the Protector of the Universe.

Like all the mythological stories, this is a story about fight between good and bad. More than that, it is the story about identifying the balance of good and bad in one’s own self.  Although the summary sounds too difficult, the book isn’t. The book explores the world of Light Seekers(or Devs) and Dark Seekers, and tries to give a scientific twist to the mythology by calling them as an alien. And then a teenager gets the taste of the power of being Kalki, that savior.

What I Liked

Scientific Twist to the mythology:  The book approaches many of the aspects of Vedas in a scientific manner. I never thought of Sudarshan as a double edged sword. Neither I thought about the planets having a protective shield(like ozone) which makes them appear barren to the people from other planets. I could feel the wheels of my engineer minds turning.

Story treatment:  I enjoyed the subtler aspect of the story, like the ego of the Devs, mixing of Ramayana and Mahabharata, and the flying horse.

What I disliked

The names of the characters: This is my problem with many Indian books. The names like Mr. Betterclouds, Angel, Ana confuses me. Why not have proper Indian names if the characters are going to stay and behave as Indians?!

Underutilized plot-lines:  Many plot lines are left unexplored, like the enmity between Shree and Indra, budding romance between Ana and Angel, potential of Alisha and Sam.  Since the book is going to have sequel(s), I’m sure they will be explored later, but for now, they are left hanging in between.

Overall Opinion

An interesting book which deserves reading. I’ll probably buy the sequel too to know what happens next. Maybe there will be some more interesting concepts.

Rating

Four Stars

Divergent

Divergent

Author’s Name: Veronica Roth

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Finally after a long wait, I picked the book. And it was so compelling that I finished it in single read.

Synopsis

Divergent is about a society where the world is divided into factions– each faction has their set function, a set of characteristic that they are supposed to emulate in themselves. Dauntless believe in bravery, Candor believe in truth, Abnegation believe in selflessness, Amity believe in peace and Erudite believe in knowledge and intelligence.

Our heroine, Beatrice, is going through the selection process wherein she has to decide which faction she wants to associate to– the one her parents belong to(Abnegation) or the one she wants herself in.  The initial story is about her struggle to complete her initiation into the faction she selects. But as soon as her initiation is complete she comes to know of a plot which will destroy one faction completely. The second half of the book is about the struggle and choices Beatrice/Tris makes to save the society.

What I liked

Concept of the book–  It’s different and it’s interesting. Although somehow the faction system reminds me of caste system in my country. I know it’s not the same because caste system doesn’t give choice to people now, but when it was initiated, the concept of it must have been similar to the faction concept. Division of work, then the division of qualities, which then somehow got changed to division by birth.

Four-  I am pretty sure that he was the strongest character of the story. The way he was described–his restraint, his beauty, his power, his fear–all appealed to me. The only thing I didn’t like about him was that I guessed in the first appearance that he was Tobias. So that mystery was quite unnecessary.

Al- I loved the author for portraying the character. I always feel that author gives the characters easy way out, but Al is beautifully portrayed. Everything about him, from his crush to his power to his cruelty, was perfect.

What irked me

Concept–  Daring does not  mean that foolishness, but the dauntless activities feels foolishness sometime. They are glamorous for sure, but they are stupid too, something which no sane person will actually do. Similar was the case with other factions.

Overall Opinion

I enjoyed the story. I was so engrossed in it to think about anything else. But I don’t want to read it again and again. It’s a very interesting book, but only for one time.

Rating
Four Stars

The Moment Before

The Moment Before

 

Author’s Name: Suzy Vitello

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The Synopsis

“Don’t get me wrong. I loved my sister. I never, not once, wished her dead.”

Brady and Sabine Wilson are sisters born eleven months apart, but they couldn’t be more different. Popular Sabine, the head cheerleader dating the high school hunk, seems to have all the luck, while her younger, artsy sister “Brady Brooder” is a loner who prefers the sidelines to the limelight.

After Sabine dies in a horrific cheerleading accident, grief unravels Brady and her family. Once recognized for her artistic talent, 17-year-old Brady finds herself questioning the value of everything she once held dear. Her best friend betrays her. Her parents’ marriage is crumbling. And the boy everyone blames for the accident seems to be her only ally in the search for answers in the wake of her sister’s death. As an unlikely friendship emerges, Brady learns more about Sabine – and love – than she bargained for.

The Moment Before is the story of Brady who has recently lost her sister in a cheerleading accident. She’s trying to come to terms with the her sister’s absence, and her family is crumbling. She and whole of the school blames Connor, the boy who missed on catching her sister because of drugs. But soon her grief brings her closer to her sister’s life which shows her a different story.

The book talks about the need to prove oneself, the insecurities of the youth, and the extent to which one is ready to sacrifice oneself for the sake of that picture-perfect life.

What I liked

Language of the book: As I said in my previous post of Thursday Quotables, there are some beautiful passages in the books. My favorite passage in the book apart from those mentioned in the previous post is:

We’re quiet for a few moments, gazing out at the spectacle of feeding frenzy. The pelicans lift and lower. Like cheerleaders. All together. Choreographed perfection. Riding the tide, then beating their massive wings, and rising, rising, hovering, and then crashing down again, the “U” of them. Standing at the water’s edge with my parents, I decide that my sister has joined those birds. If it’s true what Nona says, and she’s waiting for her call from God from that green room limbo place, knowing Sabine , she’s not just sitting there. She’s with these pelicans, one eye on us, her former family. Maybe she sees the baggie of ashes dangling from Dad’s fingertips. Her bill full of herring. Hungry, as always.

The Mystery: I didn’t even once felt that I know what is coming next. The fabric of the story is very finely woven. I was intrigued to know what exactly the truth is. 

The Message Conveyed:  This isn’t a preachy book. I am not sure if anybody will find a message in the story, but for me, it was the portrayal of that need to be on the top, the story on the peer pressure which makes us accept everything to keep our image untarnished. The race of acceptance and fame is so strong in teenagers, or even adults, we forget that our lives are not supposed to revolve around pleasing the world. This book touches all those instances and some more.

What irked me

The Ending: The whole story moved with an even pace, letting us feel and live the Brady’s life. But the last chapter closed everything quite hastily. I understand the need for the happy ending and closure for everyone, but it should have been a bit more detailed, a little bit more slower.

Romance Between Connor and Brady:  The chemistry between Connor and Brady is well shown, but the beginning of those sparks, the initial interactions between them, felkt quite abrupt to me.

Overall Opinion

This book could have been better if the beginning of their romance was a bit more defined, but despite this flaw, it’s an  enjoyable read. The writing is absolutely fantastic. It hooked me with its plot mystery and interesting character of Brady.

Ratings

Three Stars

 

Top Ten Uses of an Unworn Prom Dress

Top Ten Uses of an Unworn Prom Dress

Author’s Name: Tina Ferraro

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I selected this book because I was wanted something light to read, and its name suggested the chick-lit feature that I’d like. I was not wrong in judging it as it did left me with a smile. 

Synopsis

Nicolette Antonovich, or Nic, has many problems in life. Her parents are divorced, she still has a crush on the boy who left her alone on junior prom night, her father loves her step-sister more, there are rumors floating about her in the school; but most of all she’s an unused prom dress which she’s obsessed with. 

As the story progresses, she starts falling for her friend’s brother and try not to make a bigger mess of her life.

What I liked

Fluffiness–  This book has a light fluffiness of teenage romance. It’s a YA chicklit, and as I said it managed to make me a bit happy. 😀

Nic- Nic is an interesting and adorable character. Her high schoolish insecurities and her struggle for the problems greater than life was something I loved.

What irked me

Strange Friendship–  I didn’t like Allison at all. The friendship between Allison and Nic didn’t give me BFFs and high-five vibes. 

Jared, the hero–  I know that showing a hero in a first person girl’s POV is quite difficult, but it can be done. Jared, although sweet, was underutilized as a character. 

Overall Opinion

I have read many YAs and many chick-lits, but this was the cleanest YA chick-lit I came across. I finished it in one day, and it made that bad day a bit better. So it’s definitely worth reading. Just don’t go with the expectation of fireworks.

Rating
Three Stars

Mockingjay- An end to Hunger Games

MockingjayAuthor’s Name: Suzanne Collins

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Finally, the last installment of the series. Finally, the Hunger Games ended. A resounding end to the epic started with the first book. It’s one series which has impacted me deeply.  The best part, the author managed to put an end to those games. Worst part, there were just too many deaths.

Synopsis

The book starts in District 13. Katniss have become the face for the revolution, though she is still undecided whose side she should take.  All the districts revolt and the final showdown between the capitol and districts happen.This story is how each of the character makes a choice in how they want to defeat the Capitol. I can’t say more without actually revealing the story, but this book is DARK.

What I liked

President Snow: He’s still as creepy as ever. Though his scenes have decreased, his presence has not. He’s one of the best anti-hero written as per me.

Imperfect Peeta: Does this make me cruel that I liked this imperfect Peeta more than the original Peeta? He seems like a believable person now.

Finnick: I loved everything about him- his background story, his love, his performance- everything.

What irked me

Triangle Love Story: This time it isn’t Gale which irked me, but Katniss herself. For three books, she was torn between Gale and Peeta. I expected, rather hoped, that she’ll finally analyze what was there in her heart. But no, in that too she was given an easy choice and her decision was made by actions of Gale and Peeta. I felt so frustrated. :/

Too Many Deaths:  I can’t say if they were necessary or not, but after one point I stopped feeling the pain of the deaths. I got so much involved that my mind actually detached itself from the story. There were many scenes which felt that they were there only to increase the already induced shock.

Overall Opinion

It might be a dark book, but it’s one book which one won’t be able to miss or forget. It imprints itself on the minds of the reader and leaves one with a distaste of all the violence. 

There are section which you’ll want to skip, but still you won’t be able to free yourself from twists and turns of the book.

Ratings

Four Stars

 

Catching Fire

catching fire

 

Author’s Name: Suzanne Collins

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Since I finished Hunger Games, I have been itching to start this book. But I made myself wait for sometime so that I can absorb the previous book’s impact. This book doesn’t dull the impact, but fixes it in the mind. I dreamed of Hunger Games Arena and one of the Korean actors as the protagonist in the arena described in book? Don’t ask me why not the Indian actors, because my dreams have tendency to be weird.

Is it possible to like and not like the book at the same time?

Synopsis

The book starts some time after the previous book. Both Katniss and Peeta are back in District Twelve and are living in the victor’s village. Life is much better than the previous life, but still the sword of Capitol hangs over their head. President Snow informs Katniss that she started a revolution in the Districts and threatens her, but Katniss vacillates between whether she wants to stop this uprising or not. Just like she vacillates between Gale and Peeta.

What I liked

President Snow: He’s an absolutely creepy villain with his breath of snow and roses. He captures the page whenever he came into the picture.

Arena: When I read about the Arena, I was actually awed. I liked the description and the concept of the Arena.

What irked me

Gale: I tried. I really tried to see why Katniss will even think of any romantic relation between them, but I couldn’t find even a single reason. There’s no chemistry between Katniss and him. Even their kisses seem forced.

Last Explanation by Haymitch: I could bear everything the book dished out except when Haymitch tells the plan in the end. It’s such a dry commentary and also so short that I actually turned pages to see if there’s something more which I missed, or maybe the book is censored or something. How could the person with so much of wit and understanding lay out any plan like that?

Overall Opinion

Is it possible to like and unlike the book at the same time? The book kept me hooked to the story, but it could have been better. There were sections which felt too dragged, while there were sections which passed in a blink of a eye(like the speech I mentioned above).

All in all, it’s a worthy sequel to Hunger Games.

Ratings

Four Stars

 

The Hunger Games

Book’s Name: The Hunger Games

Hunger Games

Author’s Name: Suzanne Collins

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Another book which I started very late. I should have read this ages ago. But well, better late than never, right? I am not a blood-bath favoring person, neither I like the reality shows. That’s the reason I kept on postponing reading this. Now when I’ve read the first part of the book, I think the section which showed the games was the best section. I’m all set to start the second part. It’s better that I bought all the three parts together.

Synopsis

The book is about a dystopian society where Government organizes a fight-to-death match called hunger games between children of its territories to curb rebellion. Twelve boys and twelve girls are left on the field to kill and survive the others. Our heroine, Katniss, goes into these games along with a guy, Peeta from her own district. The story shows how she fares in these games.

Although it’s a story of many deaths, it’s a story about survival too. Collin takes us on a ride where we can actually sympathize and love the characters, and hate a few of them. I won’t say that it made me cry for the fate of the children, but it was intriguing enough to keep me involved in the story.

What I liked

Realistic Heroine: I liked that Katniss was shown as a realistic character. There were points where I felt that she was given an easy way out, but overall her reactions were real. She tried to survive as much as she could. She was nice, but she was practical too. I especially liked that she just didn’t fall in love with Pita.

Understanding between Katniss and Haymitch: I enjoyed how Collins  showed their understanding. It was utterly believable that Katniss could actually decipher what her mentor wanted. Also, it hammers how they both had that winning streak.

Rue: I’m pretty sure there’s nobody who hasn’t loved little Rue for her perfect fragility. She steals the heart with her cute demeanor. 

What irked me

Gale: As a character, he’s not shown at all. I mean he has one or two scenes. Yet by the end we are supposed to believe that Katniss is confused or she thinks that he thinks of her more than a friend, Bah. It might be a great premise for sequel, but then it’s a bit unbelievable stunt for the book.

Overall Opinion

It’s a good book. I won’t call it a masterpiece, but it has its own beauty. It keeps the readers hooked despite of its predictable plot.

Ratings

Four Stars 

Eleanor and Park – Sweetness Poured in Words

Eleanor and Park

Book’s Name : Eleanor and Park

Author’s Name : Rainbow Rowell

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This book reminded me that even nearing thirty has not dimmed that teenager inside me. This is a story of two young kids who are living their school life and falling in love. I wish to live in this book’s world for a few more days minutes.  Every time they took a step ahead, I squealed with happiness. (I know I need a psychiatrist! :P)

This book has every cheesy line possible, but then it hooks you so badly, that you start feeling that this is what we did at this age.

Synopsis

Eleanor is overweight newbie at a school with strawberry hair and ill-fitting dresses. Poverty and bad home life had made her prickly and acerbic.  She has a thorny personality owing to her extremely bad home life. Park is a bit different too. He thinks of himself as an outcast both at home and with his classmates.

The story moves from their reluctant sitting arrangement, to reading of comics together, to quick exchanges every now and then, to becoming a couple. Every small interaction, every little word exchanged, the comics and music exchanged, the stolen moments together, all  made me feel the butterflies along with them. It was absolutely adorable.
What I liked 

1) The growing friendship – The book shows that they didn’t like each other initially, yet their friendship grew. It started with awkward silence of ignoring each other into a friendship which made one spill secrets. Although the development of romance happened very quickly, the progression from acquaintances to friends is very well done.

2) Changing POV – Usually I don’t like hopping POVs. But as the chapters jump from Park and Eleanor, I can’t help but love being in their heads. I enjoyed seeing how both of them felt differently yet so similarly.

3) Ending – This was a mixed bag. I’m not fan of open endings. But I think interpretation of this open ending depends upon the cynicism of the readers. I felt it was a happy ending. More than being happy, it was Eleanor’s true reaction, something which I would have expected from her. After all, she is the girl who didn’t believe Romeo and Juliet were in love. I wanted to jump and dance in joy when the following section came:

She rolled her eyes again.  ‘Romeo and Juliet are just two rich kids who’ve always gotten every little thing they wanted. And now, they think they want each other.’

‘They’re in love …’ Mr Stessman said, clutching his heart.

‘They don’t even know each other,’ she said.

‘It was love at first sight.’

‘It was “Oh my God, he’s so cute” at first sight. If Shakespeare wanted you to believe they were in love, he wouldn’t tell you in almost the very first scene that Romeo was hung up on Ros-aline … It’s Shakespeare making fun of love,’ she said.

4) Prose – I can’t even count how many of the quotes I loved in this book. I can go on writing the quotes here, and write almost entire book again. But I can’t resist quoting few of my favorites.

“Holding Eleanor’s hand was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat. Like holding something complete, and completely alive.”

“Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.”

*sigh* Who wouldn’t love hearing that, or reading that.
What irked me

Subplots – Some subplots feel short-changed, like I was left wondering about the problems between each character and their respective parents – Park with his Dad, Eleanor with her mom and her stepdad. The ending was open, true, but then the fate of these characters and relations should also have been told.

Overall Opinion

An excellent romance if you enjoy sweet stories. It has its darkness too, but the sweet moments override those dark moments.

Rating

Four Stars

Cinder- A Futuristic Sci-Fi Cinderella

Cinder Book CoverBook’s Name: Cinder

Author’s name: Marissa Meyer

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I selected this book because of its cover. A foot instead of glass slipper and that too with a red stiletto. What an idea! 🙂

Now you might be wondering why was I checking the cover of this book. Are you going to snort if I say it was because of the cover of its upcoming second sequel, Cress? 😀

Although I can swoon over the cover throughout the post, I do understand that the book is more than its cover. I had heard a lot about this book. I never got around to reading it because it lies in Sci-Fi genre, and anything that is not romance is not in my priority list of reading. The near-release date of Cress has forced me to prepone the reading of first two books.

Anyway, the book was a nice surprise. It intermixed the new and the old in such a manner that the resulting mocktail tingled the mind and imagination.

Synopsis

Merrisa Meyer brings to life a Cinderella in the world where android and cyborgs live. Cinder is a cyborg mechanic who lives in Beijing with her adopted family. Enter the evil stepmother, stepsisters. The book also have a prince, Prince Kai, who’s the catch of the Ball.

Like the original story, Cinder is exploited by her mom and one of the stepsisters who do not want her to go to the royal ball. But that’s where the similarity ends. Welcome our villain, the Lunar Queen Levana, who wants to rule the earth through Prince Kai with a sword of intergalactic war. And Prince Kai’s choices are quite bleak.

The book builds a world after fourth world war which is similar to the today’s world yet different. There are similar open-markets, politics and discriminations, but all of them are spiced with the ID chips, spaceships, and glamour. Cinder as a protagonist entrances the reader. Her witty sarcasm and kind-hearted nature makes the reader feel for her.

What I liked:

1) The World of Cinder- “How fascinating you’re! You reel me in with all your machine talk. You glued me to the book with your Lunar glamour. Though I guessed climax and the mystery earlier, I still wanted to read the story and understand what different things are going to happen in your universe. “

2) Iko, the android- “You, with your faulty personality  and girlfriend streak. Chuck humans! I want you as my friend and side-kick.”

This made Cinder pause and squint into Iko’s blinding light. “Why would the prince dance with me?”

Iko’s fan hummed as she sought an answer. “Because you won’t have grease on your face this time.”

Who else could manage to be so mechanically correct than you, Iko!

3) Cinder– “You are amazing with your heart and all the mechanical parts at the right places. You could have been more bold, but you still managed to tug my heart with your dilemmas in the plague-ridden world. Your vulnerabilities and your wrench will stay with me for a long time.”

4) Plot– “I can’t decide whether to love your or not. I loved you when you focussed on Cinder and the world and hated you when you branched out to give us the sequel’s introduction. I loved you when you made Cinder do the heroic things and hated you when you sprinkled romance in Prince Kai’s dishes. Bah, I can’t decide!”

What irked me:

1) Prince Kai– “Darling! You’re a nice character but your chemistry with Cinder is absolutely off. You’ll be better off with Levana because at least your communication with her is much more interesting. Don’t spoil Cinder’s attitude for us.”  

2) Plot– “Oh Plot, do you not know there should not be a public celebration during the time of plague? Think about those who died? Think about how you are enhancing the health risks? You did not play the plague card in correct manner.

3) Romance–  “Oh, honey, have you heard about inert chemistry? I know this is a YA book and all, but couldn’t you sizzle a bit more, just a bit more?”

4) Ending– “How could you be so insensitive? You ended without actually ending? What about Kai and Cinder’s romance? What is going to happen to Kai now? You have to answer these questions.”

Overall Opinion:

It’s an enjoyable read. It could have been much better if all the loose ends were tied together. but despite of all the loopholes, it managed to capture and retain my interest. I finished it not because I was compulsed into finishing the book, but because I wanted to know how is the story going to unfold. Despite the predictable plot, it kept me hooked to the personality of Cinder.

Ratings:

Four Stars