The Feminist Fantasy you NEED // ARC Review: The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

Title: The Priory of the Orange Tree
Author: Samantha Shannon
Publication Date: February 26th, 2019
Publisher: 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 || Foyles || Waterstones || WHSmith || Books A Million || Chapters Indigo || Google Books
Blurb Description: A world divided.A queendom without an heir.An ancient enemy awakens.
The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction—but assassins are getting closer to her door.
Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.
Across the dark sea, Tané has trained all her life to be a dragonrider, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel.
Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep.
 
Samantha Shannon is one of my FAVOURITE authors. I’ve read the three books that are out in The Bone Season septology MULTIPLE TIMES and I’m OBSESSED.

I follow her on social media and I’d been hearing about a world filled with dragons and female power for a while and while I was excited, it wasn’t until I saw that JAW-DROPPING cover that I knew, with all certainty, that I WOULD DEFINITELY BE READING THIS BOOK. So, when Bloomsbury India send me an advance copy, I jumped in joy and dived in almost immediately.

IN A NUTSHELL: The Priory of the Orange Tree is one of the BEST fantasy novels I’ve read in a while, especially in terms of world-building. The religions, the kingdoms, and the politics usually don’t intrigue me as much as the characters do, but Priory was a perfect blend of it all. I was as invested in the fate of the kingdom and the people as I was in the characters narrating the story. I loved the magic, the dragons, the lore, the romance, the friendship, and the political intrigue.

In a nutshell, that ended up being no so nutshell-y, The Priory of the Orange Tree was everything I expected it to be AND MORE.

THINGS I LOVED:

1.       EAD AND SABRAN. These two were my FAVOURITE characters and I loved them and their story.
2.       In this world, both same and different sex partners and were the norm, except for royalty because of the whole line of succession reason, but companionship was based on love, not society-based gender constructs and it was wonderful

3.       THE WATER DRAGONS WERE BRILLIANT and I LOVED Tane and her dragon’s story.

4.       THE WORLD, THE RELIGIONS, AND THE PALACES were all brilliant. I cannot describe how much I became a part of this world while reading this 800-page beauty, but I did. It was probably the most “I’m a part of this world now” experience I’ve ever had.


Image result for priory of the orange tree quotesTHINGS I DIDN’T LOVE AS MUCH:

1.       Niclays Roos and his storyline seemed like filler at best. I enjoyed it FOR A WHILE, but by the time I reached the 300s, I was ready to skip past his story.

2.       The ending was slightly… unrealistic. After all the build-up, I expected something MORE or at least more REAL but this wasn’t.

If you’ve seen this book around, you’re probably thinking – this book is HUGE, this cover is beautiful but will I be able to conquer it?


Trust me, even though it took me 100 or so pages to get familiar with the world and the characters, Priory of the Orange Tree is an all-engrossing, queer, #girlpower filled fantasy that you NEED TO READ. Welcome to the Queendom and the obsession.

Samantha Shannon
Samantha Shannon studied English Language and Literature at St. Anne’s College, Oxford. The Bone Season, the first in a seven-book series, was a New York Times bestseller and the inaugural Today Book Club selection. Film and TV rights were acquired by the Imaginarium Studios. The Mime Order followed in 2015 and The Song Rising in 2017. 

Her next novel, The Priory of the Orange Tree, will be published in February 2019. Her work has been translated into twenty-six languages. She lives in London.

Have you read Samantha Shannon's books? What do you think of them?
Are you excited for The Priory of the Orange Tree? 

REVIEW: Wake Up, Girl! by Niharika Jindal

Title: Wake Up, Girl!
Author: Niharika Jindal
Publication Date: November 10th 2018
Publisher: Bloomsbury India
Part of a Series?: No, A Standalone
I Got A Copy Through: The Author (THANK YOU!)
Buy Links: Amazon IN || Google Books || 
Blurb Description: Naina is back from America, after four years of living on her own. A natural rebel, she has had some fairly life-altering experiences which Mum and Dad would not approve of at all if they get to know. But will her spirit and her stand be enough to fight the forces of parental pressure and heckling aunties baying for her nuptials?
Back in the bosom of her conservative family, Naina cannot even begin to imagine the turn her life is going to take. It's wedding season, and she must now be married. Because every self-respecting upper-middle-class family in India do that, right? Marriage at the 'right age' to the 'right family'…whether she likes it or not.
Naina's worst nightmares are about to come true. What hits her within a week of being at home completely changes her world and her life as she embarks on a journey that will define her and provide her an education that only life can. 
Ayaan, Rohan, Akshay, Shiven. Who will it be? Will she even have a shot at romance, being with someone she loves, irrespective of his caste, respectability or bank balance? She will have to summon all the chutzpah within to fight for herself. For her notions of love and living. 
Will she succeed? Like a chrysalis unfolding, will Naina, too, emerge with her wings unscathed?

I’ve been reading and loving books by Indian authors recently and so when I got the offer to read Wake up, girl! by Niharika Jindal, I jumped. It sounded like the perfect blend of romantic-comedy and an Indian girl’s journey towards feminism and finding herself and I WENT IN VERY EXCITED.
 
I started reading this book over a month ago, and 36 pages later, I was already a little taken aback. The main character, Naina was QUITE immature and I wasn’t feeling the book, so I put it down.

After a few weeks, during which I deviated and read a few other books, I thought “why not give this another chance?” and picked up Wake Up, Girl again two days ago. While I managed to finish it, and the book did get better, I was still expecting something more.

MY THOUGHTS:

1.       WHO REFERS TO THEIR OWN ‘INNER VOICE’ AS A SEPARATE PERSON?
This was probably one of the more annoying things about the book when Naina, the MC, kept agreeing or disagreeing with her ‘Inner Voice.’ It just rubbed me the wrong way, and I couldn’t look at her as a mature protagonist after.

2.       THE DIALOGUE WAS SO AWKWARD
Whether it was best friends or boyfriends, the dialogue could have been more refined. There was no flow, all small talk and I wish this was better written.

3.       EVERYTHING WAS A DRAMATIC CONFRONTATION
After page 36, almost every scene was this DRAMATIC CONFRONTATION. In fact, I’ll just call it over-the-top Bollywood melodrama. I CRAVE any kind of TWISTS/ DRAMA in books but the entire book doesn’t have to be just drama?

4.       I LIKED THE PROTAGONISTS JOURNEY
Whatever said and done, I LOVED that Naina finally stood up for herself and her journey throughout the years. I liked the she found herself in London and learnt to stand up for herself in the workplace as well.

5.       THE PARENTS WERE CRAZY
I’m sure that Naina’s parents accurately represent some Indian parents (and here I thank fate/ God/ the stars that my parents are so laid back) but OH WOW THEY WERE CRAZY. They didn’t hear a single word of what their daughter was screaming at them, said ‘yes’ to an arranged marriage before they could ask their daughter and REFUSED to listen when she said she didn’t know the boy and went to far as to believe that ‘marriage would teach her how to behave’ and ‘we already said yes, how can we say no because our daughter, the person who is to be married, does not consent?’ AND GOT HER ENGAGED IN TWO DAYS. #ModelParenting


All in all, I guess I’m just not a huge fan of melodramatic romantic-comedies. I can see how this book will be very inspiring to Indian girls, but the melodrama and the unrealistic parents just made me like the books less. Borrow it from a friend/ library!

Media for author Niharika JindalNiharika Jindal is a 26-year-old writer from Ahmedabad. After spending four years studying Psychology in Claremont McKenna College, California, she returned to India clueless about what to do next. She started out with a few stints in HR, during which time she met her husband on a coffee date, and it was love at first sight.

After many drives and dinner dates, Niharika is happily married. However, her fairy tale was cut short when she developed a chronic back condition-which she has been battling ever since. Constantly pestered by family and friends to do something in order to take her mind off the pain, Niharika's saving grace came in the form of reading, her favourite childhood pastime. She decided to give writing a shot. Penning Wake Up, girl! has been the most pleasurable experience, and made her realize her true passion in life. 


 

ARC Review: How To Make Friends With The Dark by Kathleen Glasgow

Title: How To Make Friends With The Dark
Author: Kathleen Glasgow
Publication Date: May 2nd 2019
Publisher: Rock the Boat (Oneworld)
Part of a Series?: No, A Standalone
I Got A Copy Through: Rock the Boat (THANK YOU!)
Buy Links: Amazon || Barnes and Noble || Wordery || Foyles || Waterstones || WHSmith || Books A Million || Chapters Indigo
Blurb Description: Here is what happens when your mother dies.
It’s the brightest day of summer and it’s dark outside. It’s dark in your house, dark in your room, and dark in your heart. You feel like the darkness is going to split you apart.
That’s how it feels for Tiger. It’s always been Tiger and her mother against the world. Then, on a day like any other, Tiger’s mother dies. And now it’s Tiger, alone.
Here is how you learn to make friends with the dark.

 
I fell in love with Kathleen Glasgow’s writing in her debut novel, Girl in Pieces, when I read it a few years ago. It was raw, heart-breaking and real and it was probably one of the best novels I’d read that dealt with being alone and learning to love yourself.

Which is why, when I heard about How to make friends with the dark from Rock the Boat I knew I would have to read it.

MY THOUGHTS:

1.       This was QUITE A SLOW BOOK. I mean, I didn’t expect it to be fast paced like a fantasy novel, but after 400 pages, I’m not fully sure what I read, just that it was quite slow. The main character went through an intense journey, and we were really introduced to ‘the system’ but it was quite a slow and dragging book altogether.


2.       I expected quite a lot from Kathleen Glasgow’s writing, especially with her writing in Girl in Pieces as a kind of blueprint in the back of my mind, but I feel like this book didn’t capture grief and pain as well as that one did. I occasionally felt sad, but I struggled to connect with this book.

3.       There were a lot of things I LOVED as well, but especially all the foster siblings, particularly Thaddeus and the two younger children. I loved how they interacted with one another. It’s not something I really thought about before, and it was quite touching to see.

4.       I also really like the people in Grief Group and Cake (also plus points for the unique names, especially Cake and Tiger). They were well-rounded individuals and I liked learning their stories.  

5.       While this was a nice enough book, it lacked that special something that I was looking forward to from a Kathleen Glasgow book. I wasn’t rooting for anybody, I was uninvested in the storyline and I honestly was reading a little mechanically.


Would I recommend this book? I’d recommend that you borrow it from a friend/ the library! I would, however, recommend Girl in Pieces. That book was a masterpiece. 

Kathleen GlasgowKathleen Glasgow is the author of the New York Times bestseller Girl in Pieces (also a Target Book Club pick--seriously!) and her upcoming release, How To Make Friends With The Dark. Proud faulty robot. Visit her on Twitter (@kathglasgow), Instagram (misskathleenglasgow), or her website (www.kathleenglasgowbooks.com).

Have you read Kathleen Glasgow's Girl In Pieces?
What are some of the most heart-wrenching contemporaries you've read recently?
I'd absolutely love to hear from you!

A Too-Real Dystopian // REVIEW: Numbercaste by Yudhanjaya Wijeratne

Title: Numbercaste
Author: Yudhanjaya Wijeratne 
Publication Date: December 5th 2018
Publisher: HarperCollins India
Part of a Series?: No, A Standalone
I Got A Copy Through: HarperCollins India (THANK YOU!)
Buy Links: Amazon IN || Barnes and Noble || Wordery || Flipkart
Blurb Description: When Patrick Udo is offered a marketing job at NumberCorp, he packs his bags and leaves for Silicon Valley. After all, the 2030s are a difficult time, and jobs are rare.
Little does he know that he's joining one of the most ambitious undertakings of his time. NumberCorp is hell-bent on building a new world order - one where everyone's social circles are quantified, their activities examined, and their importance distilled into the all-powerful Number. A society where everything from your home, to your education, to your job depends on an app that shows exactly how important you are. A utopia of truth and order.
As NumberCorp rises in power and in influence, the questions start coming in. What would you do to build the perfect state? And how far, exactly, is too far?


A novel set a few decades in the future where a number that calculates everything you are, especially your social influence online, determines your lifestyle, job, restaurants you can eat at and where you live, to say the least? Told through the eyes of a photojournalist and content writer who worked at the company that revolutionized society, for better or worse? SIGN ME UP.

If you can’t already tell, I absolutely loved how exciting the premise of Numbercaste sounded and I dove in as soon as I could. Starting in 2030, and following the rise of Numbercorp for a decade and a half, this book felt more real than dystopian because, well, WE ALREADY LIVE IN A WORLD SIMILAR TO THIS ONE, at least at the beginning.

There were a lot of things I really liked about Numbercaste and other things I didn’t like too much. Let me break it down:

THINGS I LIKED:

1.       THE PLOT: HOLY WOW. The plot of this novel or, rather, the concept behind it was REAL AND ALSO SLIGHTLY INSANE. It was so strange to read about a system in the future like it was a dystopian while also realising that we are probably a few automatic software updates from getting to where a number controls your life.

2.       THE PHOTOGRAPHY: As a photography student, I loved how important this was to our main character and content writer at Numbercorp, Patrick Udo. I loved how he described what he felt while looking through the lens, and also about the photographs he took

3.       THE WEB-SERIES: This was probably my favourite part in the series, when the idea to create a webseries to show the power of the number truly came out. The pace picked up, and I could see some inspiration driving Patrick Udo, not just going along with whatever the job through at him.


THINGS I DIDN’T LIKE SO MUCH:

1.       THE PACE: THIS BOOK WAS SO SLOW. It felt more like I was reading a long LONG article, rather than a dramatic dystopian book. I loved the concept of the book, and because of that, I expected the pace and writing style to be completely different. This was sort oft old through flashbacks and journalist pieces, but despite being in a company that was slowly  
taking over the world, Patrick Udo’s narration of it all was JUST SO DULL.

2.       DID I SAY THE PACE?

3.       THE PACE (!)

Would I recommend this book? I would’ve been giving this a five star rating if this was paced better, and the writing left for things to be more dramatic – AT LEAST A LITTLE – but I’d recommend that you borrow this one instead

Yudhanjaya Wijeratne
Yudhanjaya Wijeratne is a data researcher and a former journalist. He's run news operations, designed games, and fallen off cliffs (most of these things by accident), but he's known in his native Sri Lanka for sparking political commentary under the Icaruswept moniker.

What are some of your favourite dystopian novels?
Have you read a book like Numbercaste?
Let me know in the comments below!
 

Simply Brilliant // ARC Review: On The Come Up by Angie Thomas

Title: On The Come Up
Author: Angie Thomas
Publication Date: Febryary 7th 2019
Publisher: Walker Books
Part of a Series?: No, A Standalone
I Got A Copy Through: Penguin India (THANK YOU!)
Buy Links: Amazon IN || Barnes and Noble || Wordery || Foyles || Waterstones || WHSmith || Books A Million || Chapters Indigo || Google Books
Blurb Description: Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least make it out of her neighborhood one day. As the daughter of an underground rap legend who died before he hit big, Bri’s got big shoes to fill. But now that her mom has unexpectedly lost her job, food banks and shutoff notices are as much a part of Bri’s life as beats and rhymes. With bills piling up and homelessness staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it—she has to make it.
On the Come Up is Angie Thomas’s homage to hip-hop, the art that sparked her passion for storytelling and continues to inspire her to this day. It is the story of fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you; of the struggle to become who you are and not who everyone expects you to be; and of the desperate realities of poor and working-class black families. 
I LOVED The Hate U Give. It was probably one of my favourite contemporaries of 2017 because it made me think. It was real, unlike anything I’ve ever read before and I was crying by the time I reached the end. Angie Thomas is a gifted writer and she deserves every bit of the love that has come her way.

Which is why, when I received an advance copy On the Come Up on one of the last few days of 2018, (and I was not expecting it AT ALL) I actually screamed. To an empty room. Very loudly. And now, I’ve decided to tell the internet about it. Whoops?

I read On the Come Up in three days. At times, it was a hard book to read because of the reality of what teenagers with low income backgrounds, like Bri, have to face. At others, it inspired me, through Bri's dedication, spirit and her rap/lyrics that played an integral part in the book but most of all, it was a thought-provoking book about following your dreams, written with a heavy dose of reality and I loved it.

Seriously, if you loved The Hate U Give, you’ll love Angie Thomas’ sophomore novel as well.

THINGS I LOVED:

THE LYRICS: Bri’s lyrics were BRILLIANT. I loved them, how she put them together and how Angie Thomas wrote it all. The part about ‘You can’t spell brilliant without bri’ was a TAD CHEESY, but in all that real-talk, I’ll take it.
THE FAMILY DYNAMIC: I loved how messy, complicated and loyal Bri’s family was to one another, especially at the end. It was a truly beautiful dynamic to read about.
THE FRIENDS: I quite loved Bri’s friends, and even Miles (without a Z) towards the end. They, just like her family, were fun, real and I loved that at the end, they were always there for each other.
THE BATTLES: I think the battles that Bri had, especially the first with Milez was SUCH BRILLIANT PLOTTING/ WRITING. I was GLUED to the page as they took place and found it hard to extract myself after.

THINGS I DIDN’T LIKE:

It honestly felt like a lot of the dialogues were repeated across the book. There was a particular point when Bri was studying with a guy (that I will not name because SPOILERS) and both her mom and brother come in at different intervals and say something along the lines of “This isn’t studying, and I ain’t  got no time to be a grandmother/ uncle” and while I understand that it was meant to be funny, I found it a little repetitive.


WOULD I RECOMMEND THIS BOOK? HECK YES. I absolutely loved reading every second of it and you should definitely dive into BOTH of Angie Thomas’ books if you haven’t already. 
Angie Thomas
Angie Thomas was born, raised, and still resides in Jackson, Mississippi as indicated by her accent. She is a former teen rapper whose greatest accomplishment was an article about her in Right-On Magazine with a picture included. She holds a BFA in Creative Writing from Belhaven University and an unofficial degree in Hip Hop. She can also still rap if needed. She is an inaugural winner of the Walter Dean Meyers Grant 2015, awarded by We Need Diverse Books. Her debut novel, The Hate U Give, was acquired by Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins in a 13-house auction and will be published in spring 2017. Film rights have been optioned by Fox 2000 with George Tillman attached to direct and Hunger Games actress Amandla Stenberg set to star.
Have you read The Hate U Give or On The Come Up?
What do you think of it?
I would love to hear from you!