Red Queen – A Review

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Title:                   Red Queen
Author:              Victoria Aveyard
Genre:                Science Fiction, Dystopian YA
Topics:                Kingdom, Superficial Powers
Publisher:          Harper Teen
Published on:    July 3rd, 2015
Pages:                  388
Rating:                ★★★
Formats:             Paperback, Hardback, Kindle
Short Review:   Fighting Kingdoms, Magical powers, detestable villains, love triangles and a bit of everything for a fantasy fanatic.
“Anyone can betray anyone.”

#NMBookReview


The similarity between Red Queen and Hunger games in uncanny! So much of this book reminds me of Katniss, and later of Joffrey and his evil mother, the queen; Cersei. I would’ve liked it much more if it weren’t for all the similar plot lines. That being said, Aveyard definitely walked in the zone with a strong debut novel leaving plenty of us hooked and anticipating the series.

I picked up the book for all the hype over on Instagram (read bookstagram) and the mesmerizing cover, I hadn’t known then it was a dystopian novel, only that it was YA fantasy, I’m glad it turned out better than expected.

Victoria builds a strong female protagonist who struggles to fit in and ends up realizing how that never would be possible. The dystopian world of Red Queen series is divided into two sides, the Red and the Silver, the color of their blood and later reveals those who aren’t neither or both?

The writing is brilliant for a young debut author, better than most debut YA fantasy novels but feels a bit too descriptive sometimes, especially in the later installments of the series. There are plenty of Characters to hate and admire, all with powers and secrets of their own, but that’s not the best part, the best is the plot twist that comes about half way into the series, I loved how it was unexpected (was for me) and cleverly played. Usually, the story before the twist seems dragged but this wasn’t the case for Red Queen, it’s interesting throughout.

The kingdom keeps expanding, houses keeps evolving, love interests develop, characters gradually grow complex ( mostly the main characters ), revolution against revolution, blood against blood, superficial powers against masterminds, battles, and challenges, the commoners stand against the elite in power, and the poor despairing Mare Barrow goes from a rat in the scum scheming in desperation for bread and water to become the face of power within a day.

I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoyed The Hunger Games, you’d enjoy discovering who the lightning girl is and what the silencers can do. You’d find out about strongarm’s strength and the magic of a magnetron, of all the colors of the houses and their command on specific powers.

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Synopsis


This is a world divided by blood – red or silver.The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

That is until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.

Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver Prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.

But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against a prince, and Mare against her own heart.

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The Hate U Give – A Review

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Title:                      The Hate U Give
Author:                 Angie Thomas
Genre:                   Contemporary Fiction
Topics:                  Friendship, Racism, Activism
Book Type:          Fiction
Publisher:           HarperCollins
Published on:     February 28, 2017
Pages:                   464
Rating:                 ★★★★★
Formats:              Audiobook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
Short Review:   A rare, painful yet beautifully classic read.

“They finally put a sheet over Khalil. He can’t breathe under it. I can’t breathe.”

#NMBookReview


A very rare, painful yet beautifully classic read. The Hate U Give easily tops the other YA releases of 2017 with its true depiction of a teen girl and her life being a minority.

Thomas personifies the victims of police brutality and reflects on the lives of those affected by the shootings and like incidents. It was soul stirring and eye opening how Thomas shed light into her community, how the stereotypes and specifically ‘THUG LIFE’ was portrayed. I always heard about the injustice with minority all around the world, being in Saudi Arabia, I’ve been on the receiving end of some gender discrimination but never thought that the Black in the US and minorities, in general, suffer through so much.

The Hate U Give was inspired by the Black Lives Movement and I was scared when I picked up the book because I didn’t want it to be another commercial attempt to end racism. What I loved about the book was that Thomas didn’t preach, she didn’t put an end to racism, just the beginning of it ( the end). It’s realistic, crafty, inspiring and so beautiful. The tragedy of Starr is heartfelt and her experience is owned by the reader, throughout the book it didn’t feel like just another story or just a bunch of handwritten characters, but rich personalities living a complex life. I loved every bit of this novel, it’s not just written brilliantly but also well thought out and planned.

Look out for young love, not the cliche cinnamon like romance that creeps most of us. The siblings never keeping secrets and then fighting over it, the parents acting cute and weird all the time, the grandparents being super humans, the family being supportive and crazy all the same, plus drama, loads of it. With gangbangers and drug addicts, with police and mean girls, all the usual, but all the rare.

A YA that deserves to be read in schools, at home, everywhere, by the children and their parents. It leaves us wondering about the tiniest of racism many of us suffer from but never question, about the power of speaking up and standing for something. I truly believe that this book is a start to a revolutionary step against racism everywhere, I hope that as citizens, we’re more careful and responsible and always, always listen to either side of the story.

One other thing Angie has taught me with her inspiring words is the importance of bonding with friends and family. In today’s world, especially with the YA novels, we often talk about ‘not giving a shit’ over stuff which eggs me because I’m the sentimental kid that would notice if you unfollow me on Tumblr and now I know that it does matter. That whatever and whoever you are, you’ll most probably never fit in, even when trying so hard to act, so let’s just drop it? Let’s be ourselves for real this time, not just tweeting or posting about it but for real. Let’s not take or give away any more of hate.

Before I end my review, I’d like to thank Angie for writing this book. You spoke up on behalf of all of us who wouldn’t and that’s something you should be really proud of!

I’d also like to share that the film was optioned by Fox 2000, with “Hunger Games” star Amandla Stenberg to appear as Starr. I’m thrilled and excited for the release, are you?

Synopsis


Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed.

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice.

When Breath Becomes Air – A Review

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Title: When Breath Becomes Air

Author: Paul Kalanithi

Genre: Non-Fiction / Memoir

Pages: 200

Rating: ★★★★★

Short Review: A devastating read that breaks your heart, makes you cry but also helps you find your purpose in life.

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Synopsis

‘Finishing this book and then forgetting about it is simply not an option… Unmissable’ New York Times

For readers of Atul Gawande, Andrew Solomon, and Anne Lamott, a profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir by a young neurosurgeon faced with a terminal cancer diagnosis who attempts to answer the question What makes a life worth living? 

At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, the next he was a patient struggling to live.

When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a medical student asking what makes a virtuous and meaningful life into a neurosurgeon working in the core of human identity – the brain – and finally into a patient and a new father.

What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when life is catastrophically interrupted? What does it mean to have a child as your own life fades away?

Paul Kalanithi died while working on this profoundly moving book, yet his words live on as a guide to us all. When Breath Becomes Air is a life-affirming reflection on facing our mortality and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a gifted writer who became both.

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Quoting When Breath Becomes Air

“You can’t ever reach perfection, but you can believe in an asymptote toward which you are ceaselessly striving.” 

“There is a moment, a cusp when the sum of gathered experience is worn down by the details of living. We are never so wise as when we live in this moment.” 

“What makes life meaningful enough to go on living?” 

“Death may be a one-time event but living with a terminal illness is a process.” 

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My Review

I tried my best to be unbiased when reviewing this book but somehow the tragic incident with the author made it all the more beautiful. Don’t get me wrong, death is not beautiful but the fact that someone’s life, even when short-lived gave so much to this world is. That a person, despite the odds achieved part of his dream and became who he always aspired to be.

When breath becomes air is written by Paul himself as he discovers and fights cancer. A surgeon about to graduate is paused midway planning his entire life due to a disease and he pens it all down, his thoughts and relationships and most importantly his aspirations on the face of mortality. While reading this book, I realized how it’s never too late to follow your dreams, that no matter the odds there’s always a chance. I also look at death now as a motivator, only if we thought we don’t have time we’d fit it all in a day.

I grieve for his wife to have to part with the love of her life and his child who’d never get to know the talented surgeon, the brilliant writer, the devoted father but above all a beautiful human being. The way Paul wrote made me travel his journey with him, I sobbed with every x-ray and smiled on every tiny achievement,  I’m glad that during his last moments he was at peace, glad that he got to publish at least one book. Today we all remember him not for the accomplished surgeon that he was, but the beautiful writer that he remains.

I recommend everyone to read it, you won’t love it at all but I guess we all need a reality check every now and then, maybe this could be yours.May you find your calling.

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Check it out on Goodreads!

Buy it from Book Depository for US$9.12

Everything Everything – A Review

18692431Title: Everything Everything

Author: Nicola Yoon

Genre: Fiction/ Contemporary Romance

Pages: 465

Rating: 3.5/5

Short Review: A thought-provoking romance of an allegedly sickly girl without an ending
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Synopsis

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

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Quoting Everything Everything

“Maybe growing up means disappointing the people we love.” 

“Just because you can’t experience everything doesn’t mean you shouldn’t experience anything.” 

“You’re not living if you’re not regretting.” 

“My guilt is an ocean for me to drown in.” 

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Thoughts on the book

Everything Everything is written beautifully, Nicola Yoon adds doodles, emails, and drawings which enhance the reader’s involvement. The book size, font, and all physical details are so convenient and certainly added to my experience. Based on this book, I’d definitely read more from the author; a bit of philosophical mixed with a hint of reality.

The story is different than most books I’ve read, I liked the presence of a terminal illness and I wish there were more of it than just a little description. I also felt that she entered dangerous territory by presenting a sickness she didn’t know enough of or perhaps failed to research. Yikes!

The young romance was a good addition but I just couldn’t follow, seems too easy and too quick. For the girl’s part, it’s still understandable as she’s never been outside so she’ll fall for just anyone but what’s with the guy reciprocating it? I mean it doesn’t just happen over a day in real life and that is what bothered me. Up until the point where the ‘love’ happens, it’s going great but then I felt being dragged out of my thoughts and just read the words failing to ‘feel’ the story. The ending was also a bit sudden and abrupt, part of me liked it and part of me was like

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But it doesn’t make the book all bad, what I liked the most was how beautifully the world was pictured, the beauty in daily life and interactions, the contentment of the protagonist despite her deprived life, the hope that was present throughout. The book had a sad and tragic theme to it but it doesn’t get melancholy, only sad enough to keep you hooked and want more but not enough to reflect on your mood.

The diversity is also impressive but the ending just took away a star from it. It was a good read overall and I recommend it despite its flaws but I wish no one with the actual desease as mentioned in the book does as Nicola implies how they’re not really living, I hate everytime a book or a movie shows an overweight protagonist; which happens ever so rarely btw, gets thin in the end and realizes how her life was yukh before. Its kind of similar in this book. Well that says enough.

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Find Everything Everything on Goodreads or order it on Book Depository

Soon to be a Movie, watch the trailer here!

Nicola Yoon | http://www.NicolaYoon.com

Twitter: NicolaYoon

Genre: Young Adult

Nicola Yoon grew up in Jamaica (the island) and Brooklyn (part of Long Island). She currently resides in Los Angeles, CA with her husband and daughter, both of whom she loves beyond all reason. Everything, Everything is her first novel.

 

The Girl on the Train – A Review

the-girl-on-the-trainTitle: The Girl on the Train
Author: Paula Hawkins
Genre: Psychological Thriller/Crime Fiction
Pages: 408
Rating:⭐⭐⭐
Line Review: A creepy and depressing criminal fiction with a terrible ending. Decorative-Border-Divider

Thoughts on the Book…

I didn’t hear much about it when I read it so I had no expectations and hence the book didn’t turn out to be disappointing or a complete disaster.

The girl on the train is written alright and the characters are all well laid out but oh they’re all so pathetic and terrible I hate each one of them. The female in this book are much worse than the men, they have no self-respect what so ever, each one of them. The book is slow paced and boring, we keep looking at cringy-worthy depressed Rachel in the train and she keeps cursing and further ruining her messed up life as we read.

We have a husband that cheats on his wife; Rachel, with his girlfriend and then marries her, Rachel is left lonely to rot until the husband wants her back? But that’s not the end of the story, there’s another mysterious and beautiful glamorous girl in the picture, morbid things happen to her, morbid to say the least.

The story starts veery slow and we keep waiting till it would grow pace but no, it won’t, in fact it’ll only become predictable and creepy by the time. There’s a lot of bullshit in the middle and well in the end as well.

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The reason I still gave away my three precious stars is because I didn’t throw the book away or put it aside even when it left me furious, I wanted to see if who I guessed to be was after all the villain of the story. I actually made two guesses and it was one of them so I’d give Paula some credit.

People said its very much like the Gone Girl but I haven’t read it so I can’t say, I do know it’s a depressing read and gets you in a bad mood and there’s nothing good and positive in the world of Rachel, the entire story makes you feel like you’ll never be cheerful again. Very much like the dementor.

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I remember Desperate Housewives making a similar effort to point the horrors of everyday lives but you see some reality to it, a touch that is human and familiar. What pisses me more off is the fact that The Girl on the Train seemed unreal at so many points, like only characters that were convenient were showed and the world was ignored. Family and friends who could’ve been there were missing or only touched slightly in a chapter or two.

The last bit was the time, it was confusing. Also I prefer when books show narrative of more than one person ( unless they’re written excellently lik HP etc.) here it was only Rachel and once I decided I hate her the story just became worse.

I gave one star for keeping me hooked till the end and the remaining two for the story and thriller provided. Maybe a bit suspense too. I’m doubting on 3 stars too. :O

Okay let it go.

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Quoting The Girl on the Train

“Hollowness: that I understand. I’m starting to believe that there isn’t anything you can do to fix it. That’s what I’ve taken from the therapy sessions: the holes in your life are permanent. You have to grow around them, like tree roots around concrete; you mold yourself through the gaps” 

“There’s something comforting about the sight of strangers safe at home.” 

it’s possible to miss what you’ve never had, to mourn for it.” 

“I want to drag knives over my skin, just to feel something other than shame, but I’m not even brave enough for that” 

“let’s be honest: women are still only really valued for two things—their looks and their role as mothers.” <—-This one offended me tbh, way too much.

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Synopsis

EVERYDAY THE SAME

Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy.

UNTIL TODAY

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough.

Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar.

Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train…

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Well that’s pretty much all on The Girl on the Train, if you’d like to linger, you may wander around my site 😉