Turning Antonyms into Paradoxes by Aarushi Kataria – Book Review

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“It is better to be together than alone in an obliterated city amongst people with decimated morals that can’t appreciate art.”

Turning Antonyms into Paradoxes is a collection of poetic prose and verse spread across 10 chapters spanning people, cities, literature and other muses poets usually find themselves influenced by. Seeking to draw opposites in a way that makes us ask if there really is a stark dichotomy between life and death or art and the artist, Kataria narrows down the space between them.

Written in a dreamy way, it will appeal to those who love reading books steeped in romanticism (Fitzgerald fans, take notes). The prose coupled with verse and also illustrations by Ariana Gupta make for a well rounded experience. Written by the author at the age of 16, the ideas dealt with transcend what modern poetry seems to have become in these times. The excitement of young love, family, doubt, loss and death have been done justice with lyrical words.

This book can serve young writers and poets looking for inspiration or weathered poets wanting to look back on how words take form in the work of young poets.

Happy Reading.

~ Saadia

 

The Dream of a Ridiculous Man – Fyodor Dostoevsky

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“A dream is a strange thing. Pictures appear with terrifying clarity, the minutest details engraved like pieces of jewelry, and yet we leap unawares through huge abysses of time and space.”

 This is a short story by Fyodor Dostoyevsky written in 1877. It chronicles the experiences of a man who decides that there is nothing of any value in the world. – Wikipedia

The journey of a man from a nihilist to a believer, The Dream of a Ridiculous Man walks us through his suicidal inclinations, a small encounter that changes the course of a lifetime, a sudden sleep, a vivid dream, travel through space and time, a parallel universe, corruption, social constructs, a change of mind and the attainment of ‘truth’.

Dostoevsky writes this story based on his own experience; a dream that changed his view on life and the human condition. He examines the self intensely, asks questions that he seemingly can’t get answers to and when he does, rejects the notion of knowledge being more important than love. He maintains the belief that suffering gives life meaning and changes us, how we interact with the world.

“On our earth we can only love sincerely with suffering and through suffering. We do not know how to love any other way and know no other love. I want to suffer so that I can love.”

This short story is also full of allusions to Christian faith; a figure of grace, references to crucifixion, humanity’s ‘fall from grace’ shows a hint of the fall from Eden, and the realization “love others as you love yourself.”

A work that untangles fold by fold and seeks to talk about a multitude of themes, The Dream of a Ridiculous Man is a compelling story on nihilism, faith and humanity.

~ Saadia

 

 

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

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

The Tidy Guide to Publishing your Novel by Rachel Aukes – Book Review

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This book aims to provide actionable and concise tips and processes to publishing your novel.

Review: Aukes starts off the book by delivering information about the various forms of publishing; publishing houses or self-publishing or the ways that lie in-between. This throws light on both the traditional and the new forms of issuing your book. I rated this book 3.5/5 stars.

This book provides information about what you need to keep in mind about imprints within a publishing house, the editor’s part in publishing, the significance of having an agent and the importance of keeping the book rights indisputably yours.

In the last half of the book, the author provides precise, concrete steps to follow while publishing your book.

Buy it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2X8wiue

~ Saadia

The Tidy Guide to Self-Editing Your Novel by Rachel Aukes – Book Review

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This book seeks to provide clear-cut and practical tips to editing your novel.

Rating: 4/5 stars.

Review: Following the pattern of the preceding book ‘The tidy guide to writing a novel,’  this book follows a clear, organised method to self editing your novel. This method is divided into headings and sub headings in a chronological order so that the reader may follow this step-by-step guide as they progress. This prevents the reader from getting lost in a theoretical pile and helps in better execution of the information.

This book helps the reader get acquainted with the different obstacles one has to face while editing and the practices that help overcome these hindrances. The author further addresses each heading/ element of editing separately, providing insight on the questions we should ask ourselves while editing and the loopholes we must avoid. The author also mentions snags, overused words and styles one must abstain from.

This book ends with a list of tips regarding replacement and removal of words and the usage of numbers while writing. Further, being a concise, 30 minute read, this book proves to be convenient and swiftly applicable.

Get it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2J6qrk1

~ 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