An Adorable Graphic Novel // REVIEW: Uncool: Fights. Camera. Action by Jane De Suza

Title: Uncool: Fights. Camera. Action!
Author: Jane De Souza
Publication Date: June 15th 2018
Publisher: HarperCollins India
Part of a Series?: Yes, Book 1 of the Uncool series
I Got A Copy Through: HarperCollins India (THANK YOU!)
Buy Links: Amazon IN || Infibeam || Flipkart
Blurb Description: So, I’m DD and I’m going to be rich and famous because I’m making a film on (hold the phone still, will ya?) high school life. All the secrets, fights, crazy exam pressure, brainiacs and show offs (not you, not you!). Only, everyone wants to be the star (hey you, get out off the frame!). It’s got drama and hysterics, historics, sorry, histrionics. And my mom’s got Mr Horns. And I still haven’t got a boyfriend or a dog. And then, the lurker appears. And it all gets super scary. And he’s coming closer – so I’ve gotta run. Fast. Bye! See ya inside! The first book of the bitingly funny UNCOOL series – a rib-tickling tackling of teen issues!
THINGS I LOVED ABOUT THIS BOOK AT FIRST SIGHT:

A)     A BROWN GIRL ON THE COVER

B)      AN AMBITIOUS, HILARIOUS, BROWN TEENAGER ON THE COVER

C)      THE FACT THAT UNDER THE COVER, INSIDE THIS BOOK, THERE WERE GOING TO BE A TON OF ILLUSTRATIONS

D)     CAN WE PLEASE JUST APPRECIATE THAT WE HAVE BROWN PEOPLE ON COVERS? THANK YOU.

THINGS I LOVE ABOUT THIS BOOK AFTER READING IT:

A)     DD: DD is an absolutely amazing main character. At thirteen, and at the start to her teens, I loved the drama, her slight naivety, her clear and slightly snarky way of looking at the world and the fact that she was so self-confident and ambitious. She was a hilarious narrator, especially as she spoke about her sister and mother and I honestly wish I had her spunk and talent when I was her age.


B)      THE ILLUSTRATIONS: The illustrations in this book really brought it all together! I LOVED the Holiday Checklist, the Comparison of Heels and A Guide to Silly Ramp Walks. They all made me smile, and just the small touches to each page by Tasneem Amiruddin were so well thought out and executed!

And that’s it, you know. I don’t want to bore you by droning on for forever, but this book was a quick, cute, diverse read that made me smile and shake my head in adoration.

Definitely a recommended read for the Indian pre-teen to teen age group! 4.5 stars. 

Image result for jane de suza
Jane De Suza is a leading humour writer and columnist. Her books, which have a habit of hitting bestseller charts, include the SuperZero series for kids, Happily Never After and The Spy who lost her Head. She is a management grad, storyteller, advertising Creative Director and now lives between India and Singapore, which is definitely uncool (being 1 degree North of the Equator).

What are some of your favourite graphic novels?
Have you been seeing more representation on book covers in recent years? What #DiverseBook cover are you most in love with?!
 

DNF Rant-Review: The Accidental Bad Girl by Mazine Kaplan

Title: The Accidental Bad Girl
Author: Maxine Kaplan
Publication Date: May 15th 2018
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams Books
Part of a Series?: No, A Standalone
I Got A Copy Through: A&CB International
Buy Links: Amazon || Barnes and Noble || Wordery || Foyles || Waterstones || WHSmith || Books A Million || Chapters Indigo || Google Books
Blurb Description: After getting caught hooking up with her best friend’s ex on the last day of junior year, Kendall starts senior year friendless and ostracized. She plans to keep her head down until she graduates. But after discovering her online identity has been hacked and she’s being framed for stealing from a dealer, Kendall is drawn into a tenuous partnership with the mastermind of a drug ring lurking in the shadows of her Brooklyn private school. If she wants to repair her tattered reputation and save her neck, she’ll have to decide who she really is—and own it. The longer she plays the role of “bad girl,” the more she becomes her new reputation. Friends and enemies, detectives and drug dealers—no one is who they appear to be. Least of all Kendall. 
DNF on page 163 (49%)

When I initially read the synopsis for this book, I thought it sounded like The Accidental Bad Girl would be a really interesting read. A good girl turning bad and… liking it? After she slept with her best friend’s boyfriend? It seemed like a fun, different read and I was all for it
.
It took me a while to pick it up from my TBR, but when I did, I immediately took a disliking to it.
It was a lot of small reasons that added themselves together, and suddenly, I found me forcing myself to read on just BECAUSE it was a review copy, which just seemed so silly to me when I realised – what is the point in attempting to recommend a book that I was forcing myself to read? – that I put it down. 

THINGS I DIDN’T LIKE:

1.       The Main Character, Kendall: I mean. She was sad, but not about her friend and betraying her friend’s trust, but about being ostracized. The whole concept was so strange. If the trigger to all the bad events in Kendall’s life was her BEST FRIEND, and then she didn’t really CARE about the best friend, what was the plot even?
Image result for the accidental bad girl
ARCs from the Author's Twitter
2.       AUDREY: This is the best friend, by the way, and I ABSOLUTELY HATED HER GUTS. She was rude, RUDE and even the even ruder. I didn’t understand the things she was trying to do, from the perspective of a friend.

I guess, more than the both of them individually, I HATED WHO THEY WERE AS FRIENDS TO EACH OTHER. In fact, using the word friend to describe them is probably stretching it. For Kendall, there was no remorse. Also, WHY WOULD YOU GO AFTER YOUR BEST FRIEND’S EX-BOYFRIEND? Haven’t you heard of the GIRL CODE// THE BEST FRIEND CODE? And for Audrey, she was pissed off with Kendall just because Kendall had stolen something – not someone – that she used to have. That’s it.

3.       THE PARENTING: The interactions and reactions between Kendall and her parents were so incredulous and unbelievable that I cringed EVERY TIME. THIS IS NOT HOW PARENTS TALK TO CHILDREN. Also, if you never returned homw because you’d passed out DRUNK of the school steps (or that’s what your parents knew) ARE YOUR PARENTS FIRST REACTION GOING TO BE ‘You are not expelling my daughter, she’s done nothing wrong.’ Or actually PARENT THE CHILD and not call her a day later saying ‘I think you’re grounded.’

Honestly, I was forcing myself to read this so much, I flipped to the end to see if there was any point in continuing and HONESTLY, I WAS SO ANNOYED AT THE WAY EVERYTHING ENDED.


Would I recommend this book? No. I couldn’t even bring myself to finish it. 1 star. 
Maxine KaplanMaxine Kaplan was born in Washington, DC. She and her twin sister spent their early childhoods trotting behind their journalist parents as they traveled around the world, eventually settling in Brooklyn, NY. Maxine graduated from Oberlin College in 2007. Following a long stint in the world of publishing, she has worked as a private investigator since 2009. She lives in her adopted hometown of Brooklyn, NY, with her lovely husband and complex cat. THE ACCIDENTAL BAD GIRL is her debut novel. Follow Maxine on Twitter @MaxineGKaplan
What was the last book you thought you'd like, but didn't?
Have you read this book? What did you think of it?
 

The Definition of a PERFECT, Jaw-Dropping Sequel // REVIEW: Nyxia Unleashed by Scott Reintgen

Title: Nyxia Unleashed (Nyxia Triad #2)
Author: Scott Reintgen
Publication Date: July 17th 2018
Publisher: Crown Books (US) // Michael Joseph (UK)
Part of a Series?: Yes, Book 2 on 3 of the Nyxia Triad
I Got A Copy Through: Penguin India (THANK YOU!)
Buy Links: Amazon || Barnes and Noble || Wordery || Foyles || Waterstones || WHSmith || Books A Million || Chapters Indigo || Google Books
Blurb Description: Getting to Eden brought Emmett and his crewmates one step closer to their promised fortune. But surviving Eden may be the biggest reward of all. Discover book two in the trilogy Marie Lu called, “a high-octance thriller.”
Emmett Atwater thought Babel’s game sounded easy. Get points. Get paid. Go home. But it didn’t take long for him to learn that Babel’s competition was full of broken promises, none darker or more damaging than the last one.
Now Emmett and the rest of the Genesis survivors must rally and forge their own path through a new world. Their mission from Babel is simple: extract nyxia, the most valuable material in the universe, and play nice with the indigenous Adamite population.
But Emmett and the others quickly realize they are caught between two powerful forces—Babel and the Adamites—with clashing desires. Will the Genesis team make it out alive before it’s too late? 
THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR BOOK ONE, NYXIA 

“We’re weapons. They made us this way.And we’re coming for them.


I READ Nyxia Unleashed IN ONE SITTING. I started this book just yesterday, got invested again on page 2, and LOOKED UP FOUR HOURS LATER, on page 400, HAVING TURNED THE LAST PAGE, DONE WITH THIS MARVEL AND DESPERATELY WANTING MORE.

THIS BOOK WAS THE DEFINITION OF A PERFECT SEQUEL, WITH HIGH STAKES, A BRILLIANT, EVER-EVOLVING PLOT AND STELLAR WRITING. I am BLOWN AWAY by how Scott Reintgen’s ability to write and to keep changing the game and always keep me at the edge of my seat. Nyxia Unleashed was everything I hoped it would be and more, and I NEED the next book in my life.

ALL THE THINGS I LOVED:

1.       The World-Building: This was SUCH a crucial element to me, because Nyxia, book one, ended with the winners of Babel’s ‘competition’ hurtling down towards a new planet. I LOVED the descriptions of the Adamites (or the Imago), the planet Eden itself, the Sevenset, the creatures (especially the Century) within and even the people and their customs. There was this particular scene in a restaurant in the Sixth Ring, with such vivid descriptions to the cuisine that I absolutely loved! It was all these small details that made me feel like I was learning about an alien planet like I was actually there and it was brilliant.

2.       The Genesis: We learn later in the book that Imago call the humans the Genesis. I feel like I didn’t know enough about the crew on Genesis 12 during the last book, and I struggled to remember the names of the ten kids IN the original Genesis 11 before Genesis 12, but I loved how Scott Reintgen wrote them all as complex characters, each with a different storyline and I TRULY enjoyed getting to know each of them. I absolutely ADORE Anton, Parvin, Omar, Katsu, Longwei (strangely enough) and, of course, Morning and Emmett right now.

3.       Morning, the Genius Leader and Plotter: I have some SERIOUS respect for Morning. I couldn’t like her because she was (sort of) the enemy in the previous book, but I TRULY TRULY grew to love her in Nyxia Unleashed. I loved her fierce loyalty, her cunning mind and her skill.

4.       ALL THE TWISTS AND TURNS: I couldn’t attempt to predict this book and this series, even if I tried my level best. The game kept evolving, the stakes kept rising, there was so many bonds being made and broken, and so many truth coming to light that I found it IMPOSSIBLE to tear myself away from it all. It was truly a riveting read.

At the end of my review of Nyxia, I distinctly remember calling Scott Reintgen an ‘evil genius.’ After finishing Nyxia Unleashed, I’ll amend that statement and just call him a genius because THIS BOOK AND THIS SERIES AND THESE CHARACTERS AND ALL THEY GO THROUGH, FIGHTING BETWEEN TWO POWERFUL FORCES, AND THE STAKES AND THE PLANS AND THE PLOT TWISTS ARE JUST SO PERFECT, AND MIND BOGGLING THAT I’M IN AWE.


Basically, I’m obsessed. I will now return to by bookworm shell until book three is in my hands. Goodbye. 
Scott ReintgenScott Reintgen grew up in North Carolina, and took full advantage of the fact that he lived on the same street as fourteen of his cousins. It could be a little crowded, but he threw a few elbows and carved out a space for himself as the family storyteller. He enjoyed the role so much that he decided to spend most of college and graduate school investing in the world of literature. This led to a career teaching English and Creative Writing in the great state of North Carolina, where he currently lives with his wife and family. 

To his great delight, the demand for stories and storytellers is alive and well. As such, he can often be found at local coffee shops laboring over stories that he hopes his family, and fans, will love.

Have you read either of Scott Reintgen's books?! WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THEM?
What are some of your favourite space/ sci-fi books?
What books in this genre do I NEED to read?
 

A Different, Slow Paced Retelling // ARC Review: Sweet Black Waves by Kristina Perez

Title: Sweet Black Waves (Sweet Black Waves #1)
Author: Kristina Perez
Publication Date: June 5th 2018
Publisher: Imprint (Macmillan)
Part of a Series?: Yes, Book 1/3 of the Sweet Black  Waves Trilogy)
I Got A Copy Through: Macmillan INTL (Thank You!)
Buy Links: Amazon || Barnes and Noble || Wordery || Books A Million || Chapters Indigo || Google Books
Blurb Description: Not you without me, not me without you.
Two proud kingdoms stand on opposite shores, with only a bloody history between them. 
As best friend and lady-in-waiting to the princess, Branwen is guided by two principles: devotion to her homeland and hatred for the raiders who killed her parents. When she unknowingly saves the life of her enemy, he awakens her ancient healing magic and opens her heart. Branwen begins to dream of peace, but the princess she serves is not so easily convinced. Fighting for what's right, even as her powers grow beyond her control, will set Branwen against both her best friend and the only man she's ever loved. 
Inspired by the star-crossed tale of Tristan and Eseult, this is the story of the legend’s true heroine: Branwen. For fans of Graceling and The Mists of Avalon, this is the first book of a lush fantasy trilogy about warring countries, family secrets, and forbidden romance.
- - If there’s one thing I absolutely HATE in a book, its whiny princesses that believe they are owed the world, and backstab other females to get what they want. Especially if that other female is your closest friend and cousin.

- - Princess Esuelt was the absolute WORST FEMALE CHARACTER I’ve come across in a while. She complained about everything, lashed out at the two people closest to her, put the option of peace between two warring islands in jeopardy because she thought she loved someone and had so much hate and spite in her that it was hard to like her. Also, what she did at the end was absolutely unforgivable and, well, she is the reason I’m giving this book a three star rating, and not anything above. 

- - When I requested this book, I didn’t know it was a retelling. I honestly don’t even know the original story of Tristan and Iseult, and so it just read like an originally plotted book to me. (Whoops?)

- - It took me a while to get used to Branwen, but now, at the end, I TRULY admire her strength, will, loyalty, pride in country and belief in duty. She was one of the most STEADFAST YA heroines I’ve seen in a while, and I truly came to respect her and admire her power.

- - I quite liked all the medicine, and the talk of peace above all else. It made Sweet Black Waves stand apart from other YA Fantasy books, because for once, the country was more important than the characters and it was something I truly respected.

- - I feel like I didn’t learn enough about Tristan to like him, and from what I DID KNOW, he was a little too sweet-tounged (is that a phrase?) for me to truly trust him. Not to mention that despite not knowing the story, this book is a retelling of ‘Tristan and Iseult’ not ‘Tristan and Branwen’ that ruined the romance of it all for me.

- - I absolutely loved the Magic with Consequences and the concept of religion/ otherworldly beings in this book. It was so real and grounded, even with things like Magic and Gods and I loved how well explained it all was.


And… that’s about it. There was a lot I liked about this slow paced, different YA fantasy novel, and one particular character I simply could not stand. 3 stars. 
Kristina Pérez

Kristina Pérez is the author of THE MYTH OF MORGAN LA FEY (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014). She holds a PhD in Medieval Literature from the University of Cambridge. 

Her debut YA Fantasy, SWEET BLACK WAVES––a Tristan and Iseult retelling––will be published by Imprint/Macmillan on June 5th, 2018.



Have you heard of the legend of Tristan and Iseult?
Have you read Sweet Black Waves? What did you think of it?!
I'd absolutely love to hear from you!
 

BLOG TOUR: Star-Touched Stories by Roshani Chokshi


Hello Everyone, and welcome to my tour stop on the 
Star-Touched Stories Blog Tour by Roshani Chokshi!
It is indeed an honour to be a part of this blog tour for an author I admire, and for a collection of short stories that stole my heart. Let's begin!


Title: Star-Touched Stories (The Star Touched Queen #2.5)
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Publication Date: August 7th 2018
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Part of a Series?: Yes, Book 2.5 of the Star Touched Series
I Got A Copy Through: Wednesday Books via NetGalley
Blurb Description: Three lush and adventurous stories in the Star-Touched world.
Death and Night
He was Lord of Death, cursed never to love. She was Night incarnate, destined to stay alone. After a chance meeting, they wonder if, perhaps, they could be meant for more. But danger crouches in their paths, and the choices they make will set them on a journey that will span lifetimes. 
Poison and Gold
Now that her wish for a choice has come true, Aasha struggles to control her powers. But when an opportunity to help Queen Gauri and King Vikram's new reign presents itself, she is thrown into the path of the fearsome yet enchanting Spy Mistress. To help her friends, Aasha will have to battle her insecurities and perhaps, along the way, find love. 
Rose and Sword
There is a tale whispered in the dark of the Empire of Bharat-Jain. A tale of a bride who loses her bridegroom on the eve of her wedding. But is it a tale or a truth? 


I am A HUGE FAN of Roshani Chokshi’s absolutely breath-taking writing style, and I have been since I read The Star Touched Queen, more than two years ago. I don’t usually describe writing like this, but if you’ve ready any of Roshani’s books, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

In fact, it was so good, that this short story collection didn’t even feel like one. I was immersed, spell bound and Star Touched Stories is one of my FAVOURITE reads of the year and also, probably the BEST short story collections I’ve ever read.

I’ll review the three short stories separately:


Death and Night:

This was probably the story I was MOST excited for. I loved the PLOT behind book one, The Star Touched Queen, but somewhere in the middle, the story lost structure. Death and Night is the story of how Maya and Amar met for the first time, before the Shadow Wife’s curse and I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT. Where The Star Touched Queen was tortured and lacking structure, Death and Night was witty and filled with such beautiful lines and AAAH I LOVED IT!


Poison and Gold:

Truth be told, that while A Crown of Wishes is one of my FAVOURITE books and Vikram and Gauri are one of my favourite desi couples, I didn’t care much for Aasha, who debuted in Vikram and Gauri’s books. Poison and Gold is about Aasha’s story after A Crown of Wishes, and while it was nice, and I LOVED THE LGBT REPRESENTATION, I just wasn’t as into this story as I was with the other two.


Rose and Sword:

I honestly didn’t know what this story was about, before I started reading it.

And when I found out, MY TINY HEART FREAKED OUT BECAUSE OH. MY. GOD.

I honestly didn’t expect to see this plot twist that was hinted at in The Star Touched Queen, about a character I fell in love with in A Crown of Wishes, but this story, YOU GUYS, THIS STORY WAS ONE OF THE BEST THINGS I’VE EVER READ AND IT WAS JUST SO GLORIOUSLY BEAUTIFUL AND IT ALMOST BROKE MY HEART.


With the small short story, (and I don’t even LIKE most short stories) Roshani Chokshi’s characters have permanently cemented themselves in my heart and I AM JUST SO HAPPY AT THIS MOMENT.

Would I recommend this book? YES, but only after you’ve already read The Star Touched Queen and A Crown of Wishes. ESPECIALLY A Crown of Wishes. It’s absolutely beautiful.


Roshani ChokshiRoshani Chokshi is the New York Times bestselling author of The Star-Touched Queen and A CROWN OF WISHES. Her middle grade debut, ARU SHAH AND THE END OF TIME, released April 3, 2018 from Disney/Rick Riordan Presents. Her next young adult novel, THE GILDED WOLVES, is slated for Winter 2019. Chokshi's work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Shimmer, and Book Smugglers. She was a finalist in the 2016 Andre Norton Award and the Locus Top Ten for Best First Novel. Her short story, "The Star Maiden," was longlisted for the British Fantasy Science Award.


Have you read any of Roshani Chokshi's books? What do you think of them?
Who do you like better - Maya and Amar or Gauri and Vikram?
I'd absolutely love to hear from you (and what you thought about the creatives I made above!)

Lyrical, Mystical and Sensual Writing // ARC REVIEW: Invitation to a Bonfire by Adrienne Celt

Title: Invitation to a Bonfire
Author: Adrienne Celt
Publication Date: July 12th 2018
Publisher: Raven Books (Bloomsbury)
Part of a Series?: No, A Standalone
I Got A Copy Through: Bloomsbury India (THANK YOU!)
Buy Links: Amazon IN || Barnes and Noble || Wordery || Infibeam || Foyles || Waterstones || WHSmith || Books A Million || Google Books
Blurb Description: A seductive, sensual and sinister love triangle set in 1930s America and inspired by the infamous Nabokov marriage
Zoya Andropova, a young Russian refugee, finds herself in an elite New Jersey boarding school. Having lost her family, her home and her sense of purpose, Zoya struggles to belong, a task made more difficult by her new country's paranoia about Soviet spies. 
When she meets charismatic fellow Russian émigré Leo Orlov – whose books Zoya has obsessed over for years – everything seems to change. But she soon discovers that Leo is bound by the sinister orchestrations of his brilliant wife, Vera, and that their relationship is far more complex than Zoya could ever have imagined.
“I wanted you dead. You put flame to paper. We both had our reasons, didn’t we?”


It took me a WHILE to get into this book. In fact, I picked it up and dropped it a few times before I managed to get invested enough that I simply had to read till the ending.

Invitation to a Bonfire was a highly bizarre book, told through letters and journal entries from different points of view, in a non-linear style that it took me a while to enjoy, but I ultimately did. Let me break it down so I can explain it better:

PLOT:
Zoe Andropova is an orphan from Soviet Russia, brought to the United States on a ship filled with orphans and enrolled in a girl’s school. The story is told half from her point of view, and half from a celebrated author of Russian origin, Lev Orlov. Even though we don’t hear from Vera, Lev’s wife, I feel like we get to know her, both through Zoe and Lev’s descriptions of her. Invitation to a Bonfire is a story of the past, entwined with the present.
CHARACTERS:
I feel like I knew a LOT about Lev, Zoe and Vera, and still nothing at all. They were monotone characters, with singular purposes and yet, made all the sense in the world as well rounded people.

WRITING:
If there’s one thing I KNOW I loved, it was Adrienne Celt’s writing. It was deep, sensual, haunting, lyrical and gorgeous all at the same time, and without the mystical tinge to it all, I probably wouldn’t have liked this book at all.

CONCLUSION:
Truth be told, I’m CONFUSED as to what I feel about this book. I struggled to connect with it, and, then, as soon as I did, the story was over. I feel like we were left at the edge of a cliff, with so many unanswered questions about Lev, Zoe and Vera just left hanging in the air and yet, the story had come to an end.

In a nutshell, I got a piece of literature completely contradictory to both my expectations and predictions, and maybe that’s what the best mystery novels do, but it also all feels just incomplete and needless to a degree, especially the REASON behind the killing of one of the three in main characters.

DO I KNOW I’M BEING CONFUSING? YES. But ‘confused’ accurately describes what I feel about this book, even a week after I put it down.

Would I recommend this book? If you’re looking for something to completely defy what you think you expect from it, definitely. 
Adrienne CeltAdrienne Celt is a writer, cartoonist, and avid reader living in Tucson. Her debut novel THE DAUGHTERS won the 2015 PEN Southwest Book Award and was shortlisted for the 2016 Crawford Award. Her second novel, INVITATION TO A BONFIRE will be published in June 2018.

Winner of a 2016 O. Henry Prize, her short fiction and essays have appeared in Esquire, The Kenyon Review, Epoch, Zyzzyva, Ecotone, The Tin House Open Bar, Prairie Schooner, Electric Literature, The Lit Hub, and many other places. Also a cartoonist, her comics have been published by The Rumpus, The Toast, Bat City Review, Broad! Magazine, The Southeast Review, and other places, as well as appearing on her weekly webcomic: loveamongthelampreys.com. A collection of her comics, APOCALYPSE HOW? AN EXISTENTIAL BESTIARY was published in 2016.
What are some of your favourite mystery novels?
Have you read Invitation to a Bonfire? What did you think of it?