Tag Archives: series

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

A Darker Shade of Magic Title: A Darker Shade of Magic
Author: V.E. Schwab
Publisher: TOR Books
ISBN: 978-0765376466
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 416
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5 Stars

I have always been wary of reading fantasy and high-fantasy at that. In my mind, there are so many plots and sub-plots to follow that I lose track of all of them and then the names in these books – almost difficult to remember and recall when needed. I would always have to go back and see where did I encounter a particular character and what happened to them. However, that doesn’t deter me to read fantasy novels, that I want to or the ones I have loved before of a certain author. It takes me time to finish it, or the series but I do get around anyhow. This time though, “A Darker Shade of Magic” by V.E. Schwab – the first book in the Shades of Magic trilogy surprised me. I started and finished it in almost a span of three days and that’s saying lot, giving I was reading multiple books at the same time.

“A Darker Shade of Magic” is about multiple Londons and magic. These are parallel Londons – The Grey, The Red, The White and once upon a time, there was The Black London as well. And at the center of all of this is Kell – one of the last Antari – magicians with a rare ability to travel between these Londons. Before I say anything further about the book, let me say something about the author and her writing style. Schwab doesn’t spoon-feed the plot to you. She doesn’t explain anything right at the beginning. You are not served, so to say. You need to figure things as a reader. Now back to the book: Kell is not only a messenger of Red London (belonging to the Royal Family) but he is also a collector of trinkets and often risks bending some rules to collect these. We don’t know much about Kell till of course the plot unfurls and then you cannot wait to know more about him.

By the time you have almost gotten into Kell’s part, you meet Lila Bard – the thief so to say in Grey London and is far more enthusiastic than the greyness and gloom of this London. The story then becomes very interesting when Kell’s and Lila’s path cross (of course that’s a given), given Lila wants an adventure and Kell perhaps needs something else which he isn’t aware of. And before you know it, it is up to them to save all of the worlds from the deadliest enemy of them all.

Schwab’s writing is quick. She doesn’t waste them. You get to know about the characters by their actions, not as much as the author telling you about them. So, there is more showing, which is how it should be. Kell and Lila of course are multi-faceted and layered, and at the same time, you know exactly how they will react at times – you are that comfortable with them as a reader. You come across some really bad-ass villains which you will come to hate and the idea is that they just want to reintroduce vitari magic (you will learn of this as well) in all of Londons, thereby keeping them open to immense destruction. The characters are excellent. The plot is without any loop-holes and brilliantly conceptualized. More than anything, the writing is super. I cannot wait to finish the trilogy.

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The Bad Guys – Episode 2 – Mission Unpluckable by Aaron Blabey

the-bad-guys-episode-2-mission-unpluckable Title: The Bad Guys – Episode 2 – Mission Unpluckable
Author: Aaron Blabey
Publisher: Scholastic
ISBN: 978-1407170572
Genre: Children’s Books
Pages: 144
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

The bad guys who want to do good desperately and change their image are back. Of course the second book isn’t as great as the first book; but nonetheless hilarious and your child will finish it in ten minutes or so.

“The Bad Guys – Episode 2 – Mission Unpluckable” by Aaron Blabey is about the wolf, shark, piranha and snake wanting to save ten thousand chickens that are kept under heavy-duty lock and key. I love the pace of this children’s book. Of course it is a picture book for kids, but I think as an adult I loved it more – only because it is the perfect de-stress technique.

Aaron Blabey’s creations are hilarious, the puns are just perfect and so are some of the new characters that have been introduced in this one (I loved them and hope so do you). I honestly believe that if a so-called children’s book can also be enjoyed by adults, then that says a lot about the author and the creation at hand. I would highly recommend “The Bad Guys” series to everyone. It is a must read, which is not very well-known but I am sure will soon become immensely popular.

Eros Unbound by Anais Nin

Eros Unbound by Anais Nin Title: Eros Unbound
Author: Anais Nin
Publisher: Penguin books
ISBN: 9780141032924
Genre: Erotica, Literary Fiction, Short Stories
Pages: 106
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

Eros Unbound by Anais Nin.

Thank God for writers like Anais Nin, whose books have been around way before the “new-age” so-called erotic writers cropped up. Anais Nin’s erotica writing is not just something else but it still continues to enthrall and titillate readers’ world over.

“Eros Unbound” is just a sneak peek into her writing. There is a large body of work, which I would urge everyone to explore if you really want to know what sensuous writing can do to you. At the same time, Nin’s writing is closely linked to the facets of love and spirituality (not the one attributed to religion in any way), which is what makes it even more believable.

The book consists of eight stories and each one but of course has to have a generous measure of sex, moans and pleasure as its core. From a naïve model who slowly discovers her sexuality to an erotic moonlight encounter on a beach, Anais’s writing is stark, naked and for all to see, just like the person she was.

What I think will surprise most first-timers to her writing is that she was most certainly way ahead of her times. Even now, at least in a country like India, we are not encouraged to speak of our innermost desires, whereas not only did she speak of them and write about them, but also lived a free and most satisfying life.

People who I interact with (the gay men that is) from a sexual standpoint; seem to think I am all about sex and horny most of the time. I take that as a compliment. The way I look at it is that I am living a life that is not tinged with hypocrisy and I know what I want – in and outside of the four-poster, so that’s that.

“Eros Unbound” is a great starting point if you haven’t read anything by Nin and I assure you that you will be hooked to her writing.

Death Note – Volume 1 and 2: Story by Tsugumi Ohba and Art by Takeshi Obata

Death Note - Black Edition - Volume 1 - Story by Tsugumi Ohba and Art by Takeshi Ohbata Title: Death Note – Black Edition – Volume 1
Author: Story by Tsugumi Ohba and Art by Takeshi Ohbata
Publisher: Viz Media
ISBN: 9781421539645
Genre: Manga, Fantasy, Graphic Novel
Pages: 400
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

I had heard a lot about “Death Note” from a lot of people and how utterly irresistible this graphic novel is. I waited for a while before picking it up. I also tried to not be too interested in it, given it is a series and once I am hooked, I am so hooked that I would not read anything else. Well I don’t know if I will read the rest of the series, but volume 1 and 2 sure did make an impact on me.

So “Death Note” is written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata. “Death Note” is unique. It has the edge of a comic series that makes you want to turn the pages, and before you know it, you are done with one book and another and the entire series.

“Death Note” is about a death notebook that accidentally (or not) falls from the hands of a rogue Shinigami death god, only to be picked up by someone on Earth. Light Yagami is an ace student with a lot of prospects. He chances upon the Death Note, picks it up and it now belongs to him. The thing with the Death Note is that it works like a charm – you write a name in it, along with the cause of death, and the exact time the person is supposed to die and he or she does die, at the very same appointed hour.

Light wants to change the world to make it a better place. The Death God is there with him constantly (as per the condition of who the Death Note belongs to), and he takes no sides. On the other hand, criminals are falling like dead flies. The National Police Agency of Japan and the FBI, including an unknown name L wants to know who is behind the murders. Light is known as Kira. The battle of wits between L and Kira has begun. There is of course a lot more to this book, which I cannot give away but this will suffice for now.

The book is racy for sure. I took some time with it because I loved the art and wanted to soak it all in. Manga has after all always been a weak spot of mine when it comes to graphic novels and comics. The art by Ohbata is stunning in most places. The story was sometimes a drag but when you see it in its entirety then maybe it is well worth the drag. “Death Note” is nothing like what you have read before, simply because of the way the author describes the world we live in. It is bleak and depressing and yet somehow quite hopeful in most parts. A good heady mix to keep the reader going and engaged, for both the literary and not-so literary readers. “Death Note” is sure worth spending your time and brains on. It is different and I know that I will continue with this series and see it through to the end.

Here’s the first episode of the Death Note Anime. I would any day prefer the books.

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Amazon: Death Note Black Edition, Vol. 1

Not Dead Enough by Peter James

Reading the first few pages of Not Dead Enough, Peter James’ terrific new novel, is like seeing again friends one has only met a couple of times before, briefly but memorably: Roy Grace, 39-year-old Detective Superintendent with the Sussex CID, his best mate Glen Branson, still having marital problems; Cleo, with whom a romance had just started to blossom in the last book; and the other inhabitants of Grace’s world in and around Brighton and Hove, England.

The first two books in this series, Dead Simple and Looking Good Dead, were among the best this reviewer read in 2010, and this newest offering is a worthy third entry.

Katie Bishop, beautiful young socialite, is found dead in her home, brutally murdered. When the police find her husband, Brian, to notify him of his wife’s murder, he is 60 miles away attending a golf tournament. His alibi seems to be valid, and his shock and grief at the news seem genuine. The police are stumped – he could not have been in both places at once, could he? Is he lying? Is he being framed? DS Grace finds that the answers to these questions are elusive, yet all the evidence points to Brian as the murderer. In the midst of this, Grace suddenly finds his world tilted on its axis, as it appears that his beloved wife, Sandy, missing for over nine years with no clue as to how or why she disappeared, may still be alive and well.

James is never one to stint on trivial but important details. For instance, I loved reading about Grace’s trip to Munich. Reminded me of my own visit a few years ago, though under rather different weather conditions (i.e. freezing cold). He could have just described the visit in a short chapter, but the details and descriptions of settings and people made it really come to life. The same thing applies to all the little details he puts into his books – character traits and faults that make people human. Their ambitions and shortcomings. I especially love the fact that he’s always willing to surprise the reader and that there are no easy answers or solutions; and few coincidences. The people in a PJ story have human failings and don’t always get things right. Grace is a pretty average, intelligent bloke, and all the more likeable for it. I also love the Branson and Potting characters. I hope they’re going to be around in future Grace Novels. Great team spirit and camaraderie in this particular police force!

The identity of the killer is a true puzzle, for the police and the reader, with tantalizing clues thrown at both. An at-first-improbable-seeming element arises, but the quality of the author’s writing makes the willing suspension of disbelief on this point easier. While perhaps not as riveting as the first two books in the series, it is constantly engrossing, and the author soon ramps up the tale and the suspense to a thoroughly satisfying conclusion. [I knew I would love this book as soon as I saw that the author had dedicated it to his three dogs.]

Not Dead Enough; James, Peter; Macmillan; £6.99