Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare – Book Review

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Lady Midnight is a young adult urban fantasy novel by Cassandra Clare. The book follows the events that occur in the Los Angeles area in 2012, focusing on the residents of the Los Angeles Institute. ~ Wikipedia

Genre: Fantasy Fiction, Paranormal fiction

Review: The title is apt as it points to the central mystery that is unfolded throughout the book.

Cassandra Clare’s writing style is engrossing and seamless but her plot suffers from repetition of patterns that the reader has already witnessed in The Infernal Devices and The Mortal Instruments. The ideas of being ‘cursed’ and ‘forbidden love’ are used again and again till they become wearisome and bring down the level of the book. Most of the motivations and fears she’d used in her previous series appear again and create patterns that make the story lag. As The Odyssey writes, “Clare writes heroines as strong as they are stubborn, and boys as tortured as they are handsome.” I rated this book 3.5/5 stars.

While the story arc has always been a problem for Clare, her character building is stunning yet again, she makes the reader care for and fall in love with the characters. The side characters have their own quirks, issues and personalities which stand out distinctly. This book has autism and body image issues (possibly BDD) representation.

Julian and his parent’s love for art makes this book more humane and endearing.

“These pictures are my heart. And if my heart was a canvas, every square inch of it would be painted over with you.” 

As with the Infernal Devices, family bonds are shown in a raw and unflinching manner while true friendship is also portrayed beautifully. The loyalty that Shadowhunters show to their own is heart-warming and heartbreaking in equal parts.

“You belong where you’re loved.” 

Clare does not shy away from showing the true dysfunctional, chaotic side to families or the bittersweet relationship of siblings. The way responsibility and confinement of a family are shown makes this book cherished and true to life.

“When you love someone, they become a part of who you are. They’re in everything you do. They’re in the air you breathe and the water you drink and the blood in your veins. Their touch stays on your skin and their voice stays in your ears and their thoughts stay in your mind. You know their dreams because their nightmares pierce your heart and their good dreams are your dreams too. And you don’t think they’re perfect, but you know their flaws, the deep-down truth of them, and the shadows of all their secrets, and they don’t frighten you away; in fact you love them more for it, because you don’t want perfect. You want them.”

Themes:

  • Urban Fantasy
  • Paranormal
  • Family & Friendship
  • Forbidden love
  • Action & Adventure

Get it on Amazon:  https://amzn.to/2xFi7Ti

Happy reading and have a wonderful day

~ Saadia

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Lord of the Flies by William Golding – Book Review

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The book focuses on a group of British boys stranded on an uninhabited island and their disastrous attempt to govern themselves.

Genre: Allegorical, Psychological Novel, Young Adult fiction

Review: 

The plot is stagnant for the 1st 130 pages, the middle of the book stretched out unnecessarily. This makes the characters feel under-developed during throughout these pages. It was tedious to get through and the narration seemed monotonous for majority of the novel. I rated it 2/5 stars.

The ending is very detailed and graphic, propelling the story forward all of a sudden and the build up of the moral degradation of the young characters finally culminates in savagery. In my opinion, this should’ve happened sooner to limit the stretch of the tedious chapters that seem to add nothing to drive the plot onward.

I agree with the critics that have claimed the book to be “too abstract”. One only begins to appreciate the allegorical aspects of the book when looked through the author’s eyes.

“Maybe there is a beast… maybe it’s only us.”

“The thing is – fear can’t hurt you any more than a dream.”

“He found himself understanding the wearisomeness of this life, where every path was an improvisation and a considerable part of one’s waking life was spent watching one’s feet.”

“They walked along, two continents of experience and feeling unable to communicate.”

Get it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2G0HpzQ

~ Saadia

Top 10 books for Beginners / New Readers

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Here’s a list of books with a lucid/ easy to understand writing style, no complex world-building and yet are deeply impactful. These are perfect for new readers or beginners searching for simple books to start with. Having said that, these are also some of the best books I’ve ever read.

  1. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness: This book tells the story of a boy struggling to cope with the consequences of his mother’s illness. Written in the most simplest of manners, it is an easy and gripping read (under 214 pages.) This book is a work of art, showcasing how simplicity is indeed the ultimate sophistication.

And if no one sees you, are you really there at all?

Get it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2RrKfCd

2. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini: Set in war-torn Afghanistan, this mesmerizing, fast paced and heartbreaking novel is a rollercoaster of emotions, mostly anger, at a dysfunctional society made more so by war. It weaves together social stigma, sisterhood, loss, love for one’s country, the role of women in the Afghan society, self-sacrifice, hope and trauma. This may seem like a daunting novel but it’ll make you love reading like no other book can.

” One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs or the thousand splendid suns that hid behind her walls” – Al Beruni

Get it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/31MDwre

3. Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella: tells the story of a teenage girl suffering from acute social anxiety and depression and how her life changes for the better. This book is written in a simple, easy to understand, fast-paced manner; with inserts of text messages, making it more interesting. Even though it deals with a hard topic, it is a fun read that one keeps coming back to.

“The trouble is, depression doesn’t come with handy symptoms like spots and a temperature, so you don’t realize it at first. You keep saying ‘I’m fine’ to people when you’re not fine. You think you should be fine. You keep saying to yourself: ‘Why aren’t I fine?”

Get it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2L0rULz

4. The Harry Potter Series by J.K Rowling: Written in a charming, imaginative manner, this series is an upward graph for a new reader. I read the 7 books in a week when I first got my hands on it and reread them from time to time. These books have been spellbinding (pun intended) for millions of people worldwide and are on the top of the ‘books you should read before you die’ list.

“Have you any idea how much tyrants fear the people they oppress? All of them realize that, one day, amongst their many victims, there is sure to be one that rises against them and strikes back”

Get it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2ZC0aRw

5. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell: A beautiful, hard-hitting and coming of age book following Eleanor, a chubby, 16-year-old girl with curly red hair, and Park, a half-Korean, 16-year-old boy; this book deals with different social classes, domestic abuse and young love. It is a one of a kind book which makes the reader come back to it again and again.

“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.”

Get it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Rn050W

6. Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordian: Equal parts fun and profound, Rick Riordian’s writing style is a gift to mankind. His characters are beautifully written, the story arc executed with immense skill and his books are perfect for middle-graders, young-adults and adults alike.

“Wow,” Thalia muttered. “Apollo is hot.” 
“He’s the sun god,” I said.
“That’s not what I meant.” 

Get Book 1 on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2ZGybAd

7. The Famous Five Series by Enid Blyton: The most concise and fun adventures are found within the pages of this series, each book around 200 pages. These books leave you refreshed and satisfied with beautiful countryside imagery, delicious food and marvelous exploits.

“The best way to treat obstacles is to use them as stepping-stones. Laugh at them, tread on them, and let them lead you to something better.” 

Get Book 1 on Amazon for Rs 158: https://amzn.to/2ZJtMfV

8. The Outsiders by S.E Hinton: One the best books I read this year, this outstanding coming-of-age novel is equal parts adventure and revealing of society’s brutal follies. Dealing with gang-culture, dysfunctional families, drug abuse and adolescence, this book will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading it.

“Maybe the two different worlds we lived in weren’t so different. We saw the same sunset.” 

Get it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Y4c2eA

9. The Divergent Series by Veronica Roth: A well written dystopia, this triology is based in a society that defines its citizens by their social and personality-related affiliation with five different factions, which removes the threat of anyone exercising independent will and threatening the population’s safety. (source-wikipedia). Beatrice ‘Tris’ Prior navigates the dangers of being divergent while trying to survive in her new faction.

When I first read this book, I remember thinking and being in wonder at how perfect Roth’s writing style was. Perfect for a new reader,this book deals with self-dicovery, young-love, society and social issues. A critic claims, “No one can argue that Divergent is not a fun, edge-of-your-seat read. It is easy to get submerged in, effortless to remain engaged in, and impossible not to enjoy even the slightest bit.”

“We believe in ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another.” 

Get the series on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Rw4BdO

10. Heidi by Johanna Spyri: Heidi is written in a freely flowing, imaginative and well-paced style. The character building is effective and true to real life. Even though it is a children’s fiction, it can easily and competently be read by people of all ages with immense enjoyment. It encompasses the themes of Family and relationships, Empathy and Religion (Christianity). It is written in a simple, unaffected manner and calls for several re-reads for the pure joy that oozes out of its pages.

“The happiest of all things is when an old friend comes and greets us as in former times; the heart is comforted with the assurance that some day everything that we have loved will be given back”

Get it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Rz5JNT

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Recommendations from other readers:

  1. Fatimah, Kashmir (Instagram: @fatimahbatul.7) : The Harry Potter Series, The Grisha Triology, the Hunger Games, Coraline, Norse Mythology, The Kite Runner, Six of Crows, Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe.
  2. Kat, USA (Instagram @fieldsofliterature) : Jane Eyre, Fangirl, Everything Everything, Pride and Prejudice.
  3. Maira, Pakistan (Instagram @maira.reads) : The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, Kaise West’s novels, the Harry Potter Series.
  4.  Abbie Ruis, USA (Instagram @epochnovels): The Wrath and the Dawn Duology by Renee Ahdieh (magic, fantasy, adventure, friendship, romance.) Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (well-written characters, banter is off the charts, fighting is kickass), An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir ( political corruption, violence, Ancient Rome), Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco (YA historical fiction).
  5. Tanya, Australia (Instagram: @pagestoberead) : The Harry Potter Series, The Kite Runner
  6. Fatima, New York (Instagram @starry_tima) : The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.
  7. Miran Gulzar, Kashmir (Instagram: @miran_gulzar): Letters to Young Poets by Rainer Maria Rilke (highly recommended), Old man and the sea by Ernest Hemingway, The Room on the Roof by Ruskin Bond, The Little Prince, Maus (graphic novel).
  8. Ruby, England (http://rubysbooksblog.wordpress.com/) :A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, City of Bones by Cassandra Clare and The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller.
  9. Sadiya, Kashmir (Instagram @salazarsaddler) : The Goosebumps series.
  10. Nel, UK (Instagram: @nelwhichcraftsbooks): The Harry Potter Series, The Twilight Series.
  11. Ifreen Raveen, Kashmir (Instagram: @ifreen.raveen) The Famous Five series, Sophie Kinsella’s books.

Happy reading.

~ Saadia

 

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare – Book Review

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“Will rose slowly to his feet. “If there is a life after this one,” he said, “let me meet you in it, James Carstairs.”

Danger and betrayal, secrets and enchantment, and the tangled threads of love and loss intertwine as the Shadowhunters are pushed to the very brink of destruction in the breathtaking conclusion to the Infernal Devices trilogy. – Goodreads

Genre: Urban fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Young Adult.

Review: I rated this book 3/5 stars, the major reason being the beautiful, heart wrenching and haunting portrayal of Will and Jem’s parabatai bond. Other than that, the plot wasn’t mind-blowing in any sense; rather it was melodramatic throughout the 3 books in the series. The storyline was predictable and many chapters seemed to add nothing to the story. The story arc wasn’t executed well; the ending felt compromising and the antagonist was shallow, with vague reasons for his evil plans. Considering the hype surrounding it, it didn’t live up to the expectations.

While the book isn’t slow-paced, some scenes are stretched out without reason which hinders the flow of the story. Clare followed through with several annoying tropes that made this book reminiscent of SJ Maas books.

This book and this series are often portrayed as better than the Mortal Instruments. This can be seen in the fact that the protagonist isn’t as annoying and that the parabatai are closer and more true to the definition. But the plot of The Mortal Instruments series is more varied and adventurous than TID even if it suffers from (more) aggravating tropes.

On the brighter side, Tessa and Will’s shared love of books and poetry was shown well; with the reader being introduced to some beautiful verses from Chaucer, Milton, Shakespeare and Tennyson. Will’s memories of Jem’s love, kindness and patience for him saved the book for me, personally, because the emotions were dealt with beautifully, with raw and mesmerizing depiction of brotherhood and a family beyond blood. The epilogue is beautifully written and tugs at the heart-strings, so do some paragraphs listed below. Will’s and Jem’s character was crafted with fascinating charm and makes the reader care for them with intensity.

I’d recommend this book to anyone who likes reading about Families, Paranormal romance, Poetry, Victorian Literature and Love Triangles.

Themes:

  1. Victorian Society and women’s position in it
  2. Family
  3. Self-discovery
  4. Friendship
  5. Love
  6. Magic & Fantasy

“And now I need you to do for me what I cannot do for myself. For you to be my eyes when I do not have them. For you to be my hands when I cannot use my own. For you to be my heart when mine is done beating.”

“She leaned forward and caught at his hand, pressing it between her own. The touch was like white fire through his veins. You kindled me, heap of ashes that I am, into fire. He had wondered once why love was always phrased in terms of burning. The conflagration in his own veins, now, gave the answer.”

“Bright star,” Magnus said, and his eyes were thoughtful, as if he were remembering something, or someone. “Those of you who are mortal, you burn so fiercely. And you fiercer than most, Will. I will not ever forget you.”

“You know that feeling,” she said, “when you are reading a book, and you know that it is going to be a tragedy; you can feel the cold and darkness coming, see the net drawing tight around the characters who live and breathe on the pages. But you are tied to the story as if being dragged behind a carriage and you cannot let go or turn the course aside.”

Get Clockwork Princess on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2IoAHoA

The Infernal Devices on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2FeWSLZ

~ Saadia

The Tidy Guide to Writing a Novel – Book Review

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This book aims to provide precise, lucid and practical tips to writing your first novel.

Review: Because of its clear-cut expression and division into bite-sized chapters, this book is a quick read. This concise book can open doorways for learning more about different genres and publishing but can also be treated as a summary of writing advice from a more thorough resource pool. I rated this book 4/5 stars.

It is a perfect read for someone with just basic knowledge about writing their first book. It gives out important information about word-counts and characteristics of different genres. The best way to read this book is to jot down the tips in your journal/notebook to come back to whenever necessary. This book also helped me understand why books with side-characters who play an important role in the protagonist’s development are more successful. (Think Harry Potter series, The Hunger Games, Divergent Series and so on.)

A quick and beneficial read for debut authors or beginners.

Get it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2RmeRFb

~ Saadia

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte – Book Review

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“He shall never know I love him: and that, not because he’s handsome, but because he’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made out of, his and mine are the same.” 

According to enotes: “The story revolves around the tempestuous romance between Heathcliff, an orphan who is taken home to Wuthering Heights on impulse, and Catherine Earnshaw, a strong-willed girl whose mother died delivering her and who becomes Heathcliff’s close companion. The setting is central to the novel.”

Review: I rated this book 2/5 stars with respect to the plot but 3/5 w.r.t. writing skill. This book is a classic but its reviews are polarized. According to me, the plot is disturbing because of its detailed and unflinching portrayal of humanity’s worst but the skill and brilliance with which Emily Bronte has sewn the plot raises the book to another level.

The title is apt for the novel because it represents the place where Heathcliff’s moral degradation started, ripened and eventually culminated. The writing style is captivating and seamlessly ties the book together. The author expresses strong emotions in apt words; passion, envy, selfishness and manipulation are shown in their true states with no inhibitions.

The characters are spread over a spectrum of beliefs and ideologies and yet show the worst of humanity continually. They are corrupt and criminal with no regard for anyone else. The female characters make unwise decisions repeatedly while Catherine’s fits and tempers seemed to be nothing but a young woman’s folly. Heathcliff’s character portrayed inhumane manipulation and destructive passion while Linton’s character further reduces one’s faith in humanity.

Themes : Gothic, extremities of passion and love, social hierarchy and its effect on us personally, family ties and feuds, manipulation, revenge.

 “If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger.” 

“I have not broken your heart – you have broken it; and in breaking it, you have broken mine.” 

“He wanted all to lie in an ecstasy of peace; I wanted all to sparkle and dance in a glorious jubilee. I said his heaven would be only half alive; and he said mine would be drunk: I said I should fall asleep in his; and he said he could not breathe in mine.” 

“I’m wearying to escape into that glorious world, and to be always there: not seeing it dimly through tears, and yearning for it through the walls of an aching heart: but really with it, and in it.” 

“Treachery and violence are spears pointed at both ends; they wound those who resort to them worse than their enemies.” 

Get Wuthering Heights on Amazon:  https://amzn.to/2Ikjgpq

Find me on goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/58188371-saadia-peerzada

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/poemsbysaadia/

~ Saadia

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by R.L. Stevenson – Book Review

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A classic work of the Victorian Era, this book exhibits the moral hypocrisy which was a characteristic of this period. It is about a London lawyer, Mr Utterson who investigates strange occurrences between his old friend, Dr Henry Jekyll and the evil Edward Hyde.

Review: The writing style is attention-grabbing and flows very well. The story is concise in a masterful way. The author does not add irrelevant details to the plot. Stevenson does a better job than Shelly, in my opinion, in showcasing moral degradation and abandon. The writing did not hamper the pace of the novel neither did it drag it out, making it easier to engage with.

The allegorical portrayal of Victorian society was enlightening. Drug use, violence/ criminal behavior, degradation and good vs evil are the main themes of this book. This book seems to show the darker side of moral pretense and the ending is heavy with Gothic elements. The book maintains that the battle with one’s darker side cannot be quick and the adverse effects of taking such routes are shown explicitly.

Being under 200 pages and written so well, one flies through it. I rated it 3.5/5 stars. The reason for docking 1.5 stars is the explanation of the ‘downfall’ element of the main character during the end of the book. This is a trope I do not enjoy at all and find rather hard to get through. It has been the reason for lowering my rating of other books dealing with morality and good vs evil.

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde on Amazon: https://amzn.to/30TMWRB

A Collection of Gothic Fiction on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2EH1sm9

~ Saadia