Thursday, 10 March 2016

Elementals #1 The Prophecy of Shadows

Presenting Elementals #1 The Prophecy of Shadows by Michelle Madow.

Here is the summary of the book:

Witches are real. They're descendants of the Olympian gods. And now, five teen witches gifted with elemental powers must fight to stop a war against the Titans.

When Nicole Cassidy moves from sunny Georgia to gloomy New England, the last thing she expects is to learn that her homeroom is a cover for a secret coven of witches. Even more surprisingly ... she's apparently a witch herself. Despite doubts about her newfound abilities, Nicole is welcomed into this ancient circle of witches and is bedazzled by their powers--and, to her dismay, by Blake--the school's notorious bad-boy.

Girls who get close to Blake wind up hurt. His girlfriend Danielle will do anything to keep them away, even if she must resort to using dark magic. But the chemistry between Blake and Nicole is undeniable, and despite wanting to protect Nicole from Danielle's wrath, he finds it impossible to keep his distance.

When the Olympian Comet shoots through the sky for the first time in three thousand years, Nicole, Blake, Danielle, and two others in their homeroom are gifted with mysterious powers over the elements. But the comet has another effect--it opens the portal to the prison world that has contained the Titans for centuries. After an ancient monster escapes and attacks Nicole and Blake, it's up to them and the others to follow the clues from a cryptic prophecy so that they can save their town ... and possibly the world.

Mix Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Greek Mythology and your modern American public schools and you get Michelle Madow's latest offering the Elementals series with the first book, 'The Prophecy of Shadows'. After transcendent romance and nuances of LA high society. Madow next looks towards Greek Mythology in the modern era. From what I understand she began this story way before but only now publishing it.

So the Greek Gods are real. Witches are real as well and they are the descendants of the Gods. And Nicole Cassidy just happens to find herself smack-dab in the middle of all this madness. She was a pretty likeable protagonist. Moving to a new place and making all those connections are hard enough but Nicole finds out about a supposedly hidden part of herself there. That she has magic in her blood ..... Totally a whole new angle to get used to.

She had a good head on her shoulder. Brave and kind. And very very powerful. She knows how to deal with those around her. She catches the interest of the smoldering hot Blake and there were instant attraction there but she knows he has a girlfriend, Danielle so she backs off. She also finds a friend in Kate and Chris. Through coincidence or providence them 5 come together under the passing Olympian Comet unlocking powers that sets destiny in motion, throwing their thought controlled magic out of wack.

Really liked how the author implemented the color spectrum and meditation as the basics of her story. Earth, Fir, Water, Air and Aether (or Spirit) are the ethical building blocks of life and the group unlocking such abilities and going on a scavenger hunt for a prophecy that is precursor to events of the future was an exciting endeavor. I didn't really like how the prophecy is worded. It felt too generic when all the other examples in other much more famous ones for the poetic way. Maybe filled with cliches and the writing may seem too simple at times but it was a fun and a very quick read. More than excited for the sequel The Blood of Hydra which comes out in April.

"Magical and Mythical. With the promise of a grand adventure"

Genre :      Young Adult, Paranormal, Mythology, Romance, Urban Fantasy

PublisherDreamscape Publishing

Release Date: 26th January, 2016

My Copy: publisher & netgalley

Rate:              4/5 (Really Liked It)

Other Books from the author (review links):
                Transcend Time #1 #1.5 #2 
               The Secret Diamond Sisters #1
Buy:           Amazon | Book Depository 

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

The Aryavarta Chronicles #3 Kurukshetra

Presenting The Aryavarta Chronicles #3 Kurukshetra by Krishna Udaysankar.

Here is the summary of the book:

War is upon the realm, but is Aryavarta prepared for what will follow? As a bitter struggle begins to gain control of the divided empire that was once Aryavarta, Krishna Dwaipayana Vyasa of the Firstborn and the Secret Keeper of the Firewrights can only watch as their own blood, their kin, savage and kill on the fields of Kurukshetra. Restraint and reason have deserted the rulers who once protected the land and they manipulate, scheme and kill with abandon - for victory is all that matters. At the heart of the storm stands Govinda Shauri, driven by fickle allies and failed kings, to the very brink of darkness. Reforging the forsaken realm in the fire of his apocalyptic wrath, he is prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice of them all for the sake of one last hope: that humanity will rise, that there will be revolution. The spectacular, entrancing final episode of The Aryavarta Chronicles recreates the world of the Mahabharata with formidable power and imagination.

The decisive battle between the Kauravas & the Pandavas. 'Kurukshetra' entitles the final chapter of the Aryavarta Chronicles  following the previous 2 books 'Govinda' and 'Kauravas'. We have all grown up reading or watching Mahabharta on the television in all of its mytho-historical glory. Krishna Udaysankar not only held a cohesive plot till the end but also managed to tell this huge, complex tale without the mythos.

Not a re-telling but more of a re-imaging can be observed as she tells a de-mystified version of the epic saga. Its the battle of the Firstborns (the sages) and the Firewrights (the scientists). The Divine Order and the right of democracy. Political greed and unholy desires. And the scheming of the court life. Not only does she manages to keep her story well paced through the thick and the thin but also gives rhyme and reason to instances and scenes of the tale that would have defied impossibility.

No longer is Syoddhan (Duryodhan) the bad guy and neither is Dharma (Yudhisthir) the good one. Nothing ever exists in black and white, always the grey is there to shuffle things around. And that is what the author skillfully portrayed throughout the pages, taking instances from the text and churning out something that is reasonable and equally exquisite. It is not really necessary to know the story of Mahabharata before you read this series but it is beneficial to co-relate if you do.

Much goes in the preparations of war. That is beautifully portrayed in the first half of the book as both sides scramble to acquire allies and troops for the war. The 18 days war was no less elegant and Udaysankar's play on words described all the nuances in stark details. Every maneuver, every formation, every action taken and the resulting deaths stood the test of courage. At heart this is a battle as i had already said between the Firstborns and the Firewrights, with the tale of the Kauravas and the Pandavas unfolding right along.

Really the best conclusion afforded to the series. Krishna Udaysankar's Aryavarta Chronicles put to shame every other re-telling of the epic modern authors and playwrights have even hoped to put out there .... And the identity of the secret keeper is finally revealed. So there is that to look forward to as well in this glorious finale.

"An extravagantly monumental finale"

Genre :      Historical Fiction, Mythology, Indian Literature

PublisherHachette India

Release Date: 10th December, 2014

My CopyHachette India

Rate:              4/5 (Really Liked It)

Books in the series (review links):
              #1 Govinda 
              #2 Kaurava

Buy:           Amazon | Flipkart

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Charlotte Holmes #1 A Study in Charlotte

Presenting Charlotte Holmes #1 A Study in Charlotte Brittany Cavallaro.

Here is the summary of the book:

The last thing sixteen-year-old Jamie Watson–writer and great-great-grandson of the John Watson–wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s enigmatic, fiercely independent great-great-granddaughter, who’s inherited not just his genius but also his vices, volatile temperament, and expertly hidden vulnerability. Charlotte has been the object of his fascination for as long as he can remember–but from the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else.

Then a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Holmes stories, and Jamie and Charlotte become the prime suspects. Convinced they’re being framed, they must race against the police to conduct their own investigation. As danger mounts, it becomes clear that nowhere is safe and the only people they can trust are each other.

Equal parts tender, thrilling, and hilarious, A Study in Charlotte is the first in a trilogy brimming with wit and edge-of-the-seat suspense.

Its Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Its mystery. Its a deadly chase. Its a tribute. And its a gender bender. Coming along a long of line of adaptations is Cavallaro's A Study in Charlotte. This is a world where Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are real, their adventures are real and all the more exciting. Of course, yes gender bender-done before, most notable being the show Elementary, and the novel series Lock & Mori (haven't read it yet) but Charlotte Holmes and James Watson are a pair onto themselves.

Descendants of the legendary sleuth and his partner-in-crime, the good doctor. They may be far from London but they still manage to get tangled in a mystery. The enemy, I won't name, proved a fitting adversary enacting said crimes in a manner of both Charlotte and Jamie's ancestors' cases. Framing the duo for lack of a better word. Thus leading them on a merry chase both physically and mentally in a bid to uncover the truth and clear their names.

It is fun to watch as our Holmes & Watson fumble and stumble through the clues in search of the truth. They may be the descendants but are definitely not carbon copies of them. An overall dynamic duo. They portray a multiple of other traits that keeps the tale exciting. Calculating, analytical, alone and aloof Charlotte Holmes and dreamer and budding writer Jamie Watson. And they strike this unlikely friendship with its constant pitfalls and enlightenment as you would expect a Holmes & Watson friendship to be. With the idea of immanence to the mix.

Most of all they are not perfect in anyway at all and likewise not true copies of their ancestors .... but that is definitely a good thing. Establishing their own identities through Brittany Cavallaro's words, they are a charming pair, terribly flawed and their own closet full of skeletons ...... So my only complaint was the infodumps cited at various instances during the book felt too cumbersome but other than that I am totally on board with this brand new incarnation of Holmes & Watson.

"Scintillating new take on a gender-bended Holmes & Watson. The game is on"

Genre :     Young Adult, Mystery, Suspense, Contemporary, Romance

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Release Date: 1st March, 2016

My Copy: publisher & edelweiss

Rate:             4/5 (Really Liked It)

Buy:         Amazon | Book Depository 

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Burning Glass #1 Burning Glass

Presenting Burning Glass #1 Burning Glass by Kathryn Purdie.

Here is the summary of the book:

Sonya was born with the rare gift to feel what those around her feel—both physically and emotionally—a gift she’s kept hidden from the empire for seventeen long years. After a reckless mistake wipes out all the other girls with similar abilities, Sonya is hauled off to the palace and forced to serve the emperor as his sovereign Auraseer.

Tasked with sensing the intentions of would-be assassins, Sonya is under constant pressure to protect the emperor. One mistake, one small failure, will cost her own life and the lives of the few people left in the world who still trust her.

But Sonya’s power is untamed and reckless, her feelings easily usurped, and she sometimes can’t decipher when other people’s impulses end and her own begin. In a palace full of warring emotions and looming darkness, Sonya fears that the biggest danger to the empire may be herself.

As she struggles to wrangle her abilities, Sonya seeks refuge in her tenuous alliances with the volatile Emperor Valko and his idealistic younger brother, Anton, the crown prince. But when threats of revolution pit the two brothers against each other, Sonya must choose which brother to trust—and which to betray.

BURNING GLASS is debut author Kathryn Purdie’s stunning tale of dangerous magic, heart-rending romance, and the hard-won courage it takes to let go.

Not sure what the title means in context of the plot but Burning Glass by Kathryn Purdie offers a marvelous world building, beautiful writing within its pages and a protagonist who can sense the emotions of those around her. Auraseers they are called and they are a prized commodity in the kingdom. But Sonya is a special case even amongst her unusual peers. Not only the living but also the dead, she can sense them. That in itself is unusual. Of course, she was brought to the convent 8 months prior, so hadn't had the means of controlling her erratic powers yet.

When an accident leads to her being the only Auraseer left of the right age. She is thrust in the heart of the royal court and appointed the royal auraseer of the Emperor.But the capital is a much more populated area than the convent was, the royal court much much dangerous. And Sonya has her work cut out for her trying to separate what she is feeling in context to everyone does around her. There is the manipulative Emperor Valko and the brooding Prince Anton to consider as well. Sonya is seemingly out of her depths and more than ever realizes that as well.

While I understand Sonya's plight and appreciate her efforts I also didn't like how she just always got swept by the emotions of those her. Especially the Emperor's as she always soaked on his raging emotions and it always feels like she didn't have control over herself at all. Of course then she meets the Prince and like always finds her center. I like flawed characters as a whole because they offer a certain amount of dimensionality to the plot but i'm not really sold on a protagonist who always gets swept away by the intentions of those around her.

The romance was another part I didn't like here. It appears as a love triangle at first but painstakingly moving through the pages it becomes quite clear who Sonya prefers but I didn't like what I found on the way. The synopsis also proclaims that Sonya chooses one of the brothers to trust but it actually becomes quite clear that one she trusted as always and the other just wanted to get physical with her.

Although, alls well that ends well. The ending is quite hopeful and happy but it left a lot of things undone. I especially wanted Sonya to atleast use her seers abilities to save Valko's life during the story and be a little less needy whenever she was near him. There is also no clear villain here. The Emperor maybe portrayed as such but he was only your average ambitious King taught to do things in a certain way since infancy. And Anton the revolutionary Prince who only wanted everyone to have equal rights .... Just a suggestions if the author had told the story in three separate point of views including flashbacks from the time Anton and Valko spent away from their home ..... Maybe things would have been more interesting then. But no I am not completely sold out on Purdie's debut but i'll reserve my judgement for the sequel.

"Great plot and a marvelous world but didn't hold my fancy" 

Genre :     Young Adult, High Fantasy, Romance

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Release Date: 1st March, 2016

My Copy: publisher & edelweiss

Rate:             3/5 (Liked It)

Buy:         Amazon | Book Depository 

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