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riteshkala

riteshkala

I am an avid reader and book blogger and live in Mumbai, India. I work in the financial consultancy industry when I’m not reading books. I really like SF and Fantasy!

Currently reading

Bring in the Peacocks, or Memoirs of a Hollywood Producer
Hank Moonjean
Insurgent
Veronica Roth

Succubus On Top (Georgina Kincaid)

Succubus On Top  - Richelle Mead **** Review coming soon! ****

Tiger Paw

Tiger Paw - Charles A Cornell Wow, just wow. Review to come.

Farsighted

Farsighted - Emlyn Chand I was really intrigued by Farsighted, as this is the first book I have come across which is written from a blind guy’s perspective. I think the author has done a commendable job in writing this book in first-person, which is no small task. She has been careful to give us all the information of Alex’s surroundings through senses other than sight. So, we get to know how things feel or how they sound or smell. Also, the fact that he can ‘see’ into the future was really interesting.

The book revolves around a group of teenagers with special abilities like being able look into the future, affect people’s feelings by a mere touch, read people’s minds and being able to communicate with the dead. This idea is not really new. When I first started reading the story, the first thing that came to my mind was the American TV program Heroes. I am hoping that as the series progresses, we get something much better than that!

The one thing that rankled me a bit about the book was that there is no one character that I really like, and whom I can cheer for. Each character in the book has some major flaws. But, now that I think of it, they also seem much more human to me because of that. Even though they each have some superhuman ability, it does not make them good enough that they become perfect or invincible. These flaws make the story much more real and believable, but it also makes me dislike most of the characters.

Alex, who is the main character in the book, has been blind since a very young age. He has adapted wonderfully to this but he is also portrayed as being angry at the world, and also does not have any friends. So when Simmi, a student from India befriends him, he is ecstatic. I found Simmi to be a bit annoying, without a backbone, and really manipulative. She has the power to affect people’s feelings, and she uses this power without fail whenever a conflict arises. This really irritated me, and I could not really guess whether Alex’s feelings towards her were real or not. The third character, Shapri was the only character I actually liked in the entire book. She is strong willed and does not take shit from anyone. She will always stand up for herself and her friends. However, the way Alex treats her throughout the book really annoyed me. Also, I did not really understand why both the girls kept coming back to him, even though they were mistreated like this. Was it out of sympathy? I have no idea.

Personally, I found that the story was just too slow in developing in the first half of the book. Too much time was spent on Alex’s relationships and feelings as well as his training, and too little on actually creating the suspense of the book, or giving us clues to the mystery. In the end, I felt that the mystery which was built up to such an extent gets solved way too easily.

However, I loved the last few chapters and the fight between the good and bad guys. Each person’s abilities are used, and the final standoff, was beautifully orchestrated. The twist in the end was simply brilliant. This was the one thing I did not see coming. The way things turned out, I now don’t really know what to think of the bad guy. I can’t give him my sympathies for what he does, but I still understand his perspective of why he did those things. As I said, the book has some brilliantly flawed characters.

The book provided me with a lot to think about, and that is something I always love. The idea that things are not always what they seem, gave me pause after I had finished reading the book. It also left me with a number of questions which I need to think about. Which side of the Destiny vs. Free Will debate do I stand? What would I do if I had superpowers, would I use them for good or for evil? Which superpower would I want? What would I do if I could change people’s feelings about me?

I was going to give this book three stars, but as I started writing my review, I realized I was being too hard on the book. This is the first book in a series which is going to have atleast five books. While I am writing the review, I am beginning to realize that the author really needed to spend some time developing the characters and on their training. These are young adults who have just begun to realize that they have superhuman capabilities. Also, I think the way in which each character is portrayed as a real person having strengths and weaknesses does add a whole new dimension to the story. But, I still feel that the author needed to develop the mystery a bit better.

I really can see the potential of this series, and I believe that it can develop into something amazing. The author has struck a really good formula and I can’t wait to see what happens next. I am really looking forward to reading the stories of the other characters. The only complaint I have is that I will have to wait for a really long time for the series to complete.

Rupture (The Transhuman Warrior Series, Book 1)

Rupture (The Transhuman Warrior Series, Book 1) [Kindle Edition] - Curtis Hox *** Review and rating to come soon ***

Kiwi and the Missing Magic: The Kiwi Series (Volume 2)

Kiwi and the Missing Magic - Vickie Johnstone Posted here: http://riteshkala.wordpress.com/

Kiwi’s gang is back in full force! Vickie has again created a huge fun filled adventure for us to follow, and I loved every bit of it. All the characters of the previous story are back with a few new characters. The list of new characters includes Kiwi’s mother Moogie who seems to be quite influential in Cat City and a giant mouse named Whiskers (I run away when I see a tiny mouse, I don’t know what I’d do if I saw a giant one!).

As anyone who has read the first book in this series knows that the kids named Amy and James have a cat named Kiwi, who is find of ‘magical’ and can covert these kids into kittens and take them to Cat City. After they return from their first trip to Cat City, the kids find it a little difficult to adjust back to their human selves and retain some of the habits they picked up in Cat City. This provides us with a few laughs. The adventure begins when Kiwi teaches the kids to talk to all the other animals. This new found skill helps them talk to the bees and find out what is wrong with the flowers around their house. Here they meet the ‘worrying bee’ who worries about everything.

The real adventure begins when they return to Cat City and soon find that some ‘Magic’ is missing.
The adventure takes a serious turn when Cat City comes under attack, aided by some of the missing Magic. James’ pet hamster, Hammy also makes an appearance and plays a role in the story. Important values of friendship and forgiveness are really well depicted and kids can learn a few valuable insights about how true friends should really behave.

The story takes a number of twists and turns to reach a gripping conclusion as any further attack on Cat City is finally averted. I will not go any further to avoid giving out too many details of the story. You’ll have to read it yourself to find out what happens there!

Unlike the first book, this book is not entirely based in Cat City. The team moves back and forth between the human world, Cat City and ‘other worlds’. So the setting of the story is a bit different, but the readers do get to explore other new worlds and meet new animals.

There is a third book in the series, which has already come out, and I can’t wait to get to it. I also hope that the series continues to produce such magical tales for a long, long time.

A Hunger Like No Other (Immortals After Dark, Book 1)

A Hunger Like No Other - Kresley Cole Let me start off by saying that this is the first paranormal and the first paranormal romance book I have read, so my review is going to be shaded by that. You can think of this as a guy’s first impression of the PNR world. Also, the reason I am reading this book is because a dear friend recommended it to me to start researching the world of paranormal creatures. With that out of the way, let’s get to the review.

A Hunger Like No Other has two characters I disliked a lot right from the start. Lachlain is the epitome of an alpha male, who thinks he is a gift to the world and women in particular. He is a Lykae (werewolf) leader who has been imprisoned in hellish conditions for 150 years by vampires, and escapes from there when he scents his true mate. Also, he is over 1,200 years old, just keep this in mind. I actually liked how the author described the pain and anguish that Lachlain had to face while being held there. What I did not understand was why he did not attempt to get out sooner, if he was in such pain that the only thing keeping him sane was thought of revenge. I think revenge is a huge motivator, which should have given him the incentive to break out. But … moving on.

Emmaline or Emma, who is the other main character in the book, is a vampire-valkyrie mix. This was something unique for me, and it was interesting to see how this mix gave her qualities from both. Emma is quite young when it comes to immortals, being only 70 years old, and is actually just starting to gain her feet in the world. Her Valkyrie aunts have coddled and protected her, and kept her away from the big bad world. This has left her timid, submissive and weak. She seems to be someone who cannot take care of herself, and she admits this herself, as she longs for the protection of her coven, her daily routine, and being given everything by her aunts without ever having to work for anything.

The attitudes of both Emma and Lachlain shocked me. Lachlain manhandles Emma and nearly rapes her in public, then threatens her with ‘dire’ consequences and kidnaps her. This kind of torture does not end there, and there are numerous other situations where he comes really close to assaulting her and raping her. Emma, on the other hand, does not fight this one bit. She actually takes the “bad man” to her hotel room without putting up even a semblance if a fight, the reason being that she is really afraid of pain. Really?

I do have to give Lachlain some benefit of the doubt. He was imprisoned by the vampires, and when he finds out that his one true mate is actually a vampire, I can imagine his reaction to the cruelty of fate. He also may not know how women are treated in the modern world. But, that is where this ends. The way he treats Emma like a sex-toy and after his realization that he actually likes her, as a possession, I found it to be quite disgusting. His attitude towards Emma changes when he realizes that she is actually part-Valkyrie, and he seems to feel a lot of remorse for what he has done to her, but he still continues to lie to her, and treat her as something he is entitled to, with no regard to Emma’s feelings.

But, enough about the characters. The story line could have been so interesting, but the book moves at such a slow pace that I wanted to quit reading a number of times. The only thing that stopped me was the friend who promised that the book gets much better towards the end. For about 80% of the book, we have to wade through the back and forth between Emma and Lachlain, as they go from captor and captive to actually liking each other. Can someone say “best ever example of Stockholm Syndrome”? Or maybe Emma is being practical, thinking that Lachlain is the best bet to protect her from the Vampires who seem to be interested in capturing her as well. I think the part where Lachlain actually saves her from being abducted by the vampires is the turning point of the book, where it starts getting somewhat interesting.

Everything in the book feels hurried along, except for the part where Lachlain is treating Emma like thrash. One minute Emma is trying to escape from Lachlain, when BHAM! He mauls her, they have incredible sex where Emma climaxes innumerable times, and they fall deeply and madly in love. Is that what love is really about? Or is it the fact that Emma actually gets attuned to the fact of being Lachlain’s mate? Or maybe it is Lachlain’s blood which she drinks. I am thoroughly confused. After this point, Emma will do anything for Lachlain, including, going after his enemies all by herself.

I have no clue why the book could not have had more action throughout the story. When the action does come, in the form of Vampires attacking our duo, it all seems to happen so quickly, that you could miss it if you skip a few pages in the book. It all happens in about 5% of the book. Here again, I have no clue what gets into Emma that changes her from being timid and powerless, to someone who can kill Lachlain’s enemies. The book does not seem to have bad guys as such. They are referred to at numerous times, but they are not developed at all. I was left wanting to know more about the Vampire king, what and how he is as a character, why and how he had imprisoned Lachlain, what his relationship with Emma is, how the politics of the Vampire horde affects the world and who all the actors in this horde are. In fact, I was amazed that both the bad guys in the book go down without so much as a whimper, within a few pages. One minute they’re there, next minute they are dead, even though before this, they have been alive for centuries. Few as in, maybe 5 pages are devoted to how the bad guys are finally taken down!

In the end, I have to wonder. Do women really find such behaviour suitable, or even hot? Are they looking for men to degrade them, treat them like thrash, and to use them how they see fit? If not, why is it they find it ok if that happens to characters in a novel? How can they find a man who does this tolerable, no matter how hot he is or how well endowed? Is it that, wild, out-of-the-world sex is so important that they are willing to overlook the rest of the relationship?

So, what redeemed this book from the one and two-star slush pile? For one, in the end I did believe that Lachlain could change for the better and that Emma could grow a spine to become a bit more powerful. Also, this is very early in the series and I think the author may be still developing the characters, especially Emma as I think she will play an extremely important role as the series progresses, what with her now being associated with three of the Lore’s creatures. And finally, I actually liked how the book ended, with everyone ending up somewhat happy, or atleast pacified.

Tell me ladies, do you like your male leads to be like Lachlain? Also, can someone recommend better books if I want to research the paranormal creatures in fiction today, besides sparkly vampires?

Divergent

Divergent - Veronica Roth *** review coming soon, maybe later today ***

Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days, Book 1)

Angelfall  - Susan Ee Originally posted on: Ritesh Kala's Book Reviews

The story of Angelfall is set in a post-apocalyptic period where the angels have begun to bring about the end of the world. However, the humans are ingenious and want to fight back and reclaim the earth. The book starts off with Penryn and her family consisting of her, her mother and her sister, trying to escape to a better place. During this journey, they witness a fight between a number of angels and as Penryn enters the thick of things to protect one of them, her sister gets abducted by one of them. The fight ends with an injured angel whose wings are cut off and stolen, and who is the only source of information for Penryn to find where the angels have taken her sister. This is where their journey begins, with each looking for something really important to them, which keeps them on the path, however difficult it may be.

This book is very different from the other YA books coming out right now. There is no love at first sight, and the girl is not helpless and in constant need of protection. Also, there are no fireworks when the two main characters meet (well, there are, but of a very different kind). This is what makes this book so much better. For a large part of the book, there is a lot of distrust between the main characters, and they work together only because they have to and it is in their best interest to do so. Their journey together is not because of puppy love, but because the circumstances dictate that they stay together, as each needs the other for their own purpose. This is not to say that there is no romance in this book. But it is something that develops naturally over time.

The author has created some really powerful characters. Each character’s motivations and mental makeup is clearly brought out, and this is something that makes the book wonderful. We are never left wondering why a character is acting out in a particular way even if they seem to be doing something insane. In fact, even the secondary characters have such depth that I was left with a feeling of having watched the story rather than having read it. For all the characters, I could easily see their thoughts and feel their emotions.

Penryn is a kickass heroine who is trained in a number of fighting techniques. This means she is not a helpless girl in need of someone to protect her from the dangers of this post-apocalyptic world. I did find her to be a bit too aggressive at times, diving into things with little thought due to her hot-headedness. She is also someone who has matured and grown up because of the necessity of taking care of her family. I loved that the author has created the perfect mix of toughness and vulnerability.

Raffe, the angel who is the other main character is portrayed as the ultimate warrior. He may be injured, but he is definitely not defenceless. Also, being an angel, he heals extremely quickly and has a store of energy which seems astounding. He is quite sarcastic, which created some really interesting dialogues.

The final big character in the book is Penryn’s mother. We do not know too much about her, which is something I would have liked to happen. She may be a schizophrenic who is trapped in a world where her personal monsters need to be feared and overcome on a daily basis. She is scary but is extremely loving at the same time. She seems to have superhuman abilities when she sets her mind to something. Her character is simply brilliant, both creepy and beautiful.

I liked how angels are portrayed in the book. Although they may be powerful enough to destroy entire cities, and bring utter mayhem to earth, they are not invincible. They are powerful in the sense that they have superhuman speed, strength, and a lot of other powers. Yet, the author does not make their bodies impenetrable, and they are susceptible to bullets. They are immortal, but only if they are not injured. They can be hurt and killed. This levels the playing field for the humans, and gives them a chance to fight back. This then becomes a fight between “David and goliath”.

I found myself comparing angels to humans all the time. They seem to have all the characteristics which humans have. They can fall in love, they can hate, they can be petty and they can be sarcastic. Also, their world seemed like a giant corporate machine, with God at the top like an all-powerful CEO, sending the word down to the top management, which then filters down to the minions. In this “handing down of the message”, words can take on new meaning or get lost altogether. There is also a lot of politics in their world, about who will be “promoted” and it seemed like a democracy where angels had to lobby to get the top job. All this, I think will play a very important role in the books to come. This is also the reason for the “Angelfall”.

The book is written in first person present tense. This was very well used in Hunger Games, and I think there are a few books which do better this way. This is definitely one of them. I did have to do a double-take for the first few pages while reading it, as I was a bit uncomfortable to begin with. But after I got used to it, I actually liked it. This has a lot of advantages. I think this style amps up the action in the book as you read the things happening “right now”. Also, from the narrator’s point of view, we can’t assume anything, as it gives the writer the leeway to kill off the protagonist if she likes, not that I see that happening in a book. I’d be really angry if that happened! This really put me in the thick of the action and I could feel all the things that were happening in the book. This was a big plus point.

There is a lot which is currently left to the reader’s imagination with little backstory besides what is really needed right now. Like, how did Penryn’s sister get disabled and what did her mother have to do with it? Why is her relationship with her mother so strained? What made her mother go crazy? What happened to her father? Why was the apocalypse brought about by the angels? What did Raffe do on earth as part of his work as an angel? All of this does not impact the story one bit and all these points are actually part of the backstory which has currently not been explored. But, these are things I hope the author gets to in the remaining books. However, I really can’t complain here as I think adding so many facts to the story would have completely killed the pacing.

I personally loved the ending of the book and don’t think the story could have finished any better. In the end, I am left with a lot of hope, a little despair and oodles of anticipation for the next book. I don’t think it can get any better!

Nate Rocks the Boat

Nate Rocks the Boat - Karen Pokras Toz Welcome to a new adventure with Nate Rocks! In this book, we may get less of Nate Rocks’ adventures and more of Nate’s adventures, but, this does not make the book any less fun and interesting. I was really happy to see Nate in action. Seeing him living in the real world, and less in the adventures he creates was wonderful!

This book is perfectly created for the MG reader. In this book, Nate is going to summer camp. I remember the time I dreaded to go on one sponsored by my school. I dreaded being away at a new place, among new kids, and having to adjust to a completely new environment. I dreaded the fact that I would not be accepted, would have to face bullies and I would end up doing something stupid or dangerous. Nate also has to face all these things. But, add to it the fact that is elder sister is going to the same camp, and it gets a whole lot worse. The only solace is that he has his best friend along with him. I can imagine, and somewhat remember going through the same problems that Nate does in this book. Every kid wants to be accepted in school and at camp. Most boys, including me, who have an elder sister feel that their sisters are out to get them. Also, we have all been bullied by someone at some point when we are that age (well almost everyone).

I liked all the small details which the author adds to help create the perfect image of every scene in the book. The car ride to the camp, the arrival, the departure of the parents, meeting other boys in the camp, the really hyper camp supervisor, and all the activities at camp all seemed to come to life in the book. It was like I was right there, alongside Nate, experiencing each and every up and down he was going through. And, I enjoyed every minute!

I did miss the consistent banter between Nate and Lisa. Wonder if I can call it that? That was a highlight of the first book for me, as it made me remember the times I had with my sister when I was that age. I have to say that I missed Lisa too, the haughty neighbour and Nate’s nemesis. I think Abby and Lisa made the first book so much more interesting! But, the new characters introduced in the book did make up for their absence. And, I have to say that there are some wonderful new characters in this book. Jerry and Tasha, the camp owners, Matt, the over-enthusiastic counsellor and No-Neck, the really burly kid who is Nate’s new nemesis in the absence of Lisa were all incredibly nice and at times funny. All the other kids introduced at camp made it come to life, and got it buzzing with activity.

Like any good book about summer camps, there is a big event in the end in which all the camp bunks have to compete. As Nate goes up against his sister, there were bound to be fireworks and a well-fought and really close finish. I have to say that the way in which the event ended was something which I had expected all along, so it was a kind of let-down as I seemed to have known the twist which was coming. But, that is just me! I think the children at whom this book is targeted are going to love it.

The ending of the book is perfect. As with the previous book, it ends on a happy note and with one of Nate’s real adventures. I really liked it that Nate’s parents thought things through before giving in to one of his demands, even though he may have deserved it due to his heroic deed. I really do hate it when parents are shown to have no backbone and just fall over each other to fulfil every demand of the kid. That reminds me so much of Dudley from Harry Potter. I also loved the fact that in the end, all the kids, whether they fought, or were mean to each other, or called each other names, became friends. That is simply a great message, that if you take the time to get to know someone, there is a chance you may change your initial impression and start liking that person, and even become their friend. This is exactly how I expect every great MG book to end. Definitely recommended for children or the child hidden in all adults.

Orlind (Draykon Series)

Orlind  - Charlotte E. English Disclaimer: If you have not read the previous two books in the series, this review is going to have some major spoilers for you.

Do you like it when a series ends perfectly? Is it not nice to know that everything that was left unanswered in the previous books is finally answered by the author and the loose ends are tied together is the most perfect of bows? Personally, I don’t like series which end with things not explained clearly, or where it is left to the readers’ imagination about what happened to the characters after the series ended. If you like your series to finally end, and to end well, then this is the book. This is definitely the biggest reason why I am giving this book a five-star rating.

At the end of the last book in the series, we all knew that a war was coming, a war where the draykoni were going to try and lay claim to the world and fight the humans to regain control. Well, we are definitely not disappointed in that regard. The war forms one of the main story arcs in the book and it is a grand war, with everyone from humans to drakoni to the Lokants involved in it. In fact, the second big story arc in the book is about how the Lokants influence and meddle with everything that is going on. Of course, as expected Krays and Limbane end up on opposite sides of the war. I can’t tell you much more about the lokants’ influence on the whole situation without giving away the ending, but I’ll just tell you that there is a lot more going on than you can ever imagine. The war between Limbane and Krays is much more important than some petty rivalry.

I just love the development of Llandry as a character throughout the series. In this book, Llandry is now a mature, and dare I say, powerful human and draykon. I am amazed at the amount she has grown in the series, from the young, shy girl into a woman who has the power to bend wills, who stand up for herself and others, who can take charge of situations and who can be a mentor to others. Eva has also grown a lot, which may seem surprising. But, she too has been put into something completely new, and has undergone a lot of change since coming to know about her Lokant heritage. I really like how Pensould learns really quickly what it really means to be human. He may still have trouble, but there are times when seeing things from his perspective make me wonder about why humans behave in a particular manner. The relationship of Eva and Tren really grows too. Their love for each other comes out clearly, as they face immense danger together, support each other, and are not willing to leave the other behind.

The author never ceases to amaze me. Every time I think I have a firm grasp on where the story is headed, I get completely thrown off. In this book too, I had a mental image of how the book would progress and end. It did go on for quite a while in that direction when, WHAM! It took a completely different turn, and a story arc I could have never thought of is introduced. This story arc is so important because it perfectly ties off whatever we know about the world, its races and its history. It also creates an extremely powerful ending, one which left me breathless with action, anticipation, dread and relief. The ending finally explains why the draykoni can travel so seamlessly throughout the three worlds, why the humans have the ingenuity needed to win the war, and how the Lokants have been the reason behind all that is wrong and has been wrong with the worlds for a very long time.

There are some really powerful emotions explored in this book and they definitely deserve a separate mention. The author explores the high and lows of the emotional rollercoaster, with the good, bad and ugly all getting into play. The need for revenge for the draykoni, the quest for power by the Lokants, the love shared between Llandry and Pensould, the mercilessness of the power plays bwtween the Lokants, the desire to defend one’s home, all these make the book an extremely powerful read. By the end, the readers are left gasping at how much each of the races in the book has at stake!

This book is the perfect ending to the series; I really could not have asked anything more. This is a rare occasion where I am not left with questions but with a satisfied feeling for having taken this this wonderful journey with the author and her characters. Would it be too much of a spoiler if I say that all the main characters end up being happy, finally?

The Five Elements

The Five Elements - Scott Marlowe Posted on: http://riteshkala.wordpress.com/

Shanna and Aaron are best friends who like nothing more than being in each other’s company. The relationship between the two was wonderful to read about. They seemed to be at ease when they were with each other and relied on each other completely. There was no competition to outdo each other, nor was there a feeling of superiority in Aaron, even though he knew so much more than Shanna and was a sorcerer’s apprentice. Their carefree life is soon turned upside down when an elemental attack on their home leaves it devastated and throws them on two separate paths, with both running away from the attackers.

The mystery of why the city is attacked, by whom, and what they are after is closely guarded by the author until much later in the story. The attack on the city has been perfectly choreographed by the author. The devastation was portrayed in such a stark manner that I could feel it happening. Each part of it is clearly thought out and it sets off, both Shanna and Aaron on their separate quests. This is also a moment in which both characters get developed immensely. The way in which they escape, the things they do to help others in need and their reactions to the tragedy define how they will react to situations they will face later in the book. This part is what helped me understand the characters and their motivations at the end of the book, when the time comes to make the tough decisions.

There are some really powerful characters in the book, even though quite a few of them end up dead when the book is finished. I clearly have feelings for each of them, whether good or bad. Shanna and Aaron are of course the protagonists of the book. Then there is Ensel Rhe, a warrior and mercenary who has a lot of history which is not explored in the book. He is extremely powerful, resourceful and talented, and cannot be taken lightly. Erlek Abn Nee is the person who creates all the problems in the book in his quest to harness the elemental magic which the Elementalists had access to. He is ruthless and someone who I found to be disgustful. I am sure this is exactly the reaction the author was hoping for. The wizards, Elsanar and Ansanom are part of the larger conflict between the Druids and the Elementalists. And finally, there is Serena, who has a small, but really important role to play in helping Aaron in put an end to the conflict. The characters are all terrifically developed, and are still fresh in my mind, days after I finished reading this book.

The history of the world in which the story is based revolves around to classes of people, the Druids and the Elementalists. Both of these, can wield elemental magic, but the Druids are more powerful, and do not depend on any external objects for their magic. The Elementalists are a faction who broke away from the Druids, and who were opposed to the restrictions they placed on using elemental magic. This war is still raging, and the Druids are bent on eradicating all Elementalists and their descendants from the face of the earth. This is the conflict in which both Aaron and Shanna find themselves embroiled.

The story moves along two completely separate paths which only meet at the end. In one, Shanna and Erlek Abn Nee are on a quest to retrieve the four elements created by the Elementalists, which will allow them to access the elemental magic which the Elementalists and Druids had on hand. The ruthlessness of Erlek and the change in Shanna’s attitude during the quest is something that kept me turning the pages with urgency to find out what would happen next, and what they would have to face in order to get to the next element. Also, it clearly brought out the greed for power which comes from having such a huge source within grasping distance. The growth of Shanna’s character as she realizes her destiny and what exactly she has access to was mesmerising. But, it was kind of disheartening to see the change in Shanna from the carefree girl to someone drunk on power.

On the other hand, Aaron is on the run along with Ensel Rhe as he is pursued by dwarfs and hell hounds who want to kill him. He remains just out of reach and seems to reach safety at last. This is where he meets Serena, another wizard’s apprentice. I was surprised to see a new and very important character being introduced this late in the book. But, considering this is a series, it seems to be fine. I do think that Serena will play a really important role going forward in the series.

There is of course an inevitable showdown between the Druids and the Elementalists in the end. This was actually difficult to read because Aaron is forced to make a decision which goes against everything he holds dear. The strength of his character clearly shone through in the end. He had an amazingly tough decision to make, and he ends up doing the right thing even though it is extremely painful for him. I wonder what I would have done if I were in his place. Would I have chosen the easy way out and decide to procrastinate the inevitable, if I were in his place? I really don’t know.

I loved the story and it was the perfect combination of elemental magic and adventure. But, the ending of the book is just a bit too perfect for me. It seems as if the author has made this book into a series as an after-thought, after this book was already released. The story ends at a place where we can’t see any villain in sight, and the protagonists are now as happy as you can expect them to be. The central conflict of the book also seems to have been resolved. I have no clue what the author will be writing about in the remaining books in the series. There are no plots or story lines which are left unexplored to really keep me interested. This is something that really puts me off. I don’t really have anything to look forward to now. Will I read the next book in the series? I think so, but just to see what the author has come up with to extend the story. Unless he can pull the proverbial rabbit out of the hat, I may be done.

Two Moons of Sera (Vol. 1)

Two Moons of Sera Vol. 3 - Pavarti K. Tyler The story of this book takes place in a unique world with two very different sets of people. The Sualwets live in the sea, though they can survive on land as well for a prolonged period of time. The Erdlanders are more like us and live on land only. There is a war going on between them, and there is a lot of distrust and hatred. In the middle of this war, Nilafay, a Sualwet gets pregnant with an Erdlander’s child and hence Sera, her daughter has the characteristics of both. I loved the premise of the world created by the author and I believe that there is tremendous potential in this plot. However, that does not come through in this first part. I am quite sure that this will not be the case if and when we read further.

Both the main characters in the book, Sera and Tor, really work well. They bath have a lot in common, and they immediately become attracted to each other, which I can completely understand. They both have something that is broken within them, and are both unique. They both have also lived away from civilization for a very long time and so feel somewhat out of place when they enter the civilized world. I loved the way in which they meet, how they get to know each other and how their relationship progresses in this book. Tor, who is the other main character in the book besides Sera, seems to have magic in him which adds a new dimension to the book. I’m quite interested in knowing how this relationship will progress further as the book continues.

I found the Erdlanders’ world to be something out of a science fiction story and there is a lot of mystery surrounding it. With all the organisation and technology, it initially may seem like a great place to be, but there is something sinister going on there. What this is, is not revealed yet. Also, there is nothing about the Sualwet world in this book. This is the problem with the place at which this book is cut off. There are just too many things about which we have no idea.

This first part of the story is an introduction. As such, a lot of time is spent on introducing the world and developing the characters. This is exactly what I would expect from every good fantasy book. However, this also means that this part is lacking in action and this is something I sorely missed. In fact, the one page prologue has the most action in the book, and that is something that took place in the past. I think the author could have continued the story and stopped at a place which would keep the readers wanting more. The ending was a definite ‘miss’ for me.

This is the first time I have read a serialized novel, and starting this, I knew I was not going to get the whole story. I knew I would be left somewhere hanging. But it still left me a little jarred.

I have a big issue with this book being serialized. This part of the book was released in October 2011 and the next part is scheduled to be released this month. That is a whole 6 months after the first one came out. With such a long wait between releases, I would tend to lose interest in this book very quickly. This book is definitely not like a series, with each book having a concrete conclusion. Each part seems to be randomly cut off, which leaves a bad taste. So, according to me, this is definitely not working. I know I could have loved this book if I would have read it in one go. But, will I continue to read it with no clear indication of how many parts are coming, or when? Frankly, this makes me really wary of putting in the effort to continue. I would suggest that the author take the time and think about how she wants to release each part. A serialized novel should have a release schedule telling us exactly when each part will release and how many parts to the story there will be. As it stands currently, I don’t even know how much the author expects people to spend on reading her book completely.

This book has huge potential. I can see an amazing story developing. Will it happen? I don’t know. I just have to say that I will look at one more volume of this book and see if it holds my interest. If not, I am letting it go.

The Willing (The Crayder Chronicles, Book 2)

The Willing (The Crayder Chronicles, Book 2) - C. S. Splitter Posted on: Ritesh Kala's Book Reviews

I have to confess that I have read the second book in the series without reading the first one. This actually does not hamper my reading too much, but I do have to imagine parts of the backstory which I would have known from the first book. So, I do not really know the kind of relationship which Tom and Lorena have, or the organisation he has gotten involved with. It is actually nice to explore and find out these things for myself. This also means that I might unknowingly give out spoilers to the first book, you have been forewarned.

Tom Crayder, the protagonist of this series, is not a hero. He loves to talk and think about things such as planes, girls, sex and guns, basically all the things which would interest every guy. He is a normal guy, just like me, with all the normal problems, when life thrusts into a situation where he has to be heroic. In this book, Tom is not on a mission for the organisation, but on one of his own. His wife Jenny unknowingly gets into trouble with the mafia, and it is upto Tom and his team to save her. All the characters from the first book appear to make a comeback, and he has Lorena at his side during the entire book.

I loved the characters of the book. Each of them has their problems and none of them are clear-cut nice guys, but you end up loving them either ways. They are all friends you would like to have around in times of trouble, the kinds who would have your back no matter what. Personally, I liked Tiny the best. He is like a cute giant kid and I couldn’t help but love him. He is has an innocence to him, that is difficult to ignore. I also liked the kickass Lorena who is witty and sarcastic as well as extremely well-trained. Definitely not someone you’d want to mess with.

The author is able to provide comic relief in all the right places to release just enough tension out of a situation which would have me gasping for air if it were to last any longer. But after a point the one-liners and witty comebacks became a bit too much. I would love to see the relationship that Tom and Lorena have, to progress to a stage where they are just comfortable with each other and are not out to prove anything. I can totally see that happening as the series progresses. I could do with a little less of these in the upcoming books. Also, I felt that some of the flying sequences were extended a bit too much and could have been shorter. But these are minor shortcomings in an excellent book.

I have to say that the book’s fast pace, continuous action and wonderful characters had me breezing through the book. I actually was able to almost finish reading it in one sitting. This is not something that I can say about too many books. This is a double edged sword, as the author has now set expectations to a very high level for all his next books. I hope he can live upto this and provide the same level of entertainment in the upcoming books.

This is a gold mine that the author has hit. There are countless books in the series which can be written. I am sure he’ll have enough ideas to saturate even the die-hard fans of the series. But we are a long, long way away from that happening. Right now, I am just waiting for the next book in the series to come out!

Blind Sight Through the Eyes of Aniela Dawson

Blind Sight Through the Eyes of Aniela Dawson - Eliabeth Hawthorne Posted on: http://riteshkala.wordpress.com/

I am reviewing this book and the second Blind Sight book, Blind Sight Through the Eyes of Leocardo Reyes, together.

Blind Sight is a unique set of books, as this set contains the same story written from different main characters’ points of view by two different authors. I was really intrigued by this, and wanted to know how this experiment played out, if the stories would be different enough to justify reading both books and if I’d like the idea. I am going to review both books together as, that is how they work best, and as I don’t really have any complaints with the writing style or flow of either of the books.

My initial reaction on reading the book blurb was that this would be a book filled with supernatural abilities or gifts. But, I was disappointed in this regard. The gifts are there as just a background to the story. They do not really play an important part in the books and the books read more like a mystery than fantasy. I know this is just the first book in a long series, so I am going to let this slide as I anticipate these to play a bigger role in the coming books.

I did find the books to be a bit slow to read and the real action comes right at the end of the books. There is a lot of description about the relationships between all the characters in both the books. I have no idea if all these secondary characters will play an important role going forward, so I can’t really comment on whether this space was really wasted. But, if this is not part of the character and world building for the series, I will be really turned off! This being a fantasy series, where this is a necessity, I am going to let this slide as well right now.

The authors say that people can read one of the books and still get the complete story. While true to a certain extent, I am not fully convinced. I read “Through the eyes of Aniela” first and there were parts where I felt lost and did not really understand why certain things were happening. This became clearer after I read the second book. I would recommend readers to start reading the books with “Through the eyes of Leocardo”. This will remove a lot of frustration from not understanding Leocardo’s behaviour in “Through the eyes of Aniela”.

Leocardo and Aniela have two very different ideas of what is happening with Odette. If I decide to read just one book, will I still be able to get both, Aniela and Leocardo’s reasoning and ideas? What if I back the wrong idea? Will I have to go back and read the other books, as things become clearer? For now, I would suggest reading both books. But as the series progresses, I have my doubts about a lot of readers sticking with both books, or sticking with the series itself. This is one experiment which is going to be really interesting.

Both authors end the books on an extremely interesting note. I would certainly like to know what happens next as I can see a really big story arc developing. There is a lot of mystery and intrigue still left to unravel in this world. So, I say, bring it on! Even with the issues I have I highly recommend this new series. I just hope the authors take note and truly try to make both the books work individually as I’d hate to see people not reading this series due to this.

Bloodstone (Brother Athelstan)

Bloodstone - Paul Doherty The mystery revolves around the theft of the magnificent Passio Christi, a precious bloodstone, a fist sized ruby which is an extremely important Christian relic and the death of Sir Robert Kilverby in a locked room who was the person holding it in safe custody. The Passio Christi is also linked to the Wyvern Company, who were the ones who had ‘found’ it during their exploits in the war in France. When one of the men in the Company is also found murdered, the mystery deepens and Friar Athelstan and Sir John Cranston, Coroner of London are called in to investigate.

This is the first time I have read a historical mystery. So, my review is based on my experience as a first time reader. In the beginning, while reading the book as I had to run to the dictionary every few minutes to look up words describing the various medieval settings, churches, etc. However, as the book progressed, I got more comfortable and was able to really get into the mystery. I don’t think this is a major hindrance, but I did need to be persistent to get to a place where the book became easier to read.

I also found the author to be somewhat overly descriptive. I don’t think this is an entirely bad thing. I did feel overwhelmed with the description of the churches and the architecture and had to skip over some parts in order for me to not lose the continuity of the story. But, I think it may be a necessary part of getting the medieval setting just right. I did feel like I was transported back to that age; I could literally see the ornate churches and the grim cities. I could feel all the people described to be actually here, living and breathing. The poor and the helpless, the rich and the famous, the crooks and the thugs, the priests and the soldiers, all felt extremely real. This, I think helped me get into the story and into this world, and really enjoy the book.

All the characters in the book are terrifically developed. There are two different places in which the story unfolds, and each place has a unique set of characters. A lot of them were blamed by me for one or more of the murders in the book as I kept progressing with the story. The ‘evil’ wife Helen, the overly loyal Crispin, the angelic daughter Alesia, the ruthless and dangerous Wyvern Company, the suspect Frenchman, Richer, all had reasons to be linked to the murders. I have one way of judging characters in a novel. The characters seem real to me when I can actually hear them speaking their dialogues in my head. These characters certainly passed this test.

The book is extremely well researched. Starting with the basic historical facts and creating a story which remains true to those is not easy to accomplish. The story felt like something which could have actually transpired at that time in history and none of the events are out of place. The use of groups like the Wyvern Company in a war and the way in which they would act terrorizing the people, looting and destroying everything in their path is well used. I also liked the way in which the author describes the aftereffects of the war on these soldiers. The ghosts which come back to haunt them and the regret they feel when their life is coming to an end had me sympathising for them to some extent.

The thing I liked about the mystery was that the author was able to keep the suspense going till the last few pages. There were parts of the mystery which never became clear enough for me to guess the culprits outright. The author has left enough misdirection and suspects to keep us guessing. Don’t get me wrong, all the clues were there, but putting them together was something I was not able to accomplish. I had an inkling of who the culprits were, but there was no way I was going to be able to prove it. That is the beauty of the story the author has created. Once the reasoning is explained, it all seems so simple; you end up wondering why you were not able to get it. Although I was not entirely surprised at who the culprits were in the end, I needed to understand how they had accomplished their crimes, how all the little clues left throughout the book came together and fit perfectly to complete the jigsaw.

This is exactly how any terrific mystery should end. With satisfaction and amazement!

Driving to BelAir: A Novella

Driving to Bel Air - William G. Jones Road trips are a tried and tested formula, one which is difficult to either get completely right or completely wrong. I have read and seen so many books and movies on the subject which I have liked enough to not get bored by them. But I had yet to come across something I truly loved. I have to say the “Driving to Belair” comes close to being perfect.

The book follows the formula very well. We start with a reason for the road trip which has meaning and does not seem frivolous. Each of the persons on the road trip has a personality and there are no filler characters. As, with any good road trip book, anything that can go wrong, does in fact go wrong. The characters develop and mature during the road trip as the hardships and the trials all bring them closer to each other than they were to begin with. And, it all ends on a hugely positive note. Frankly, I don’t see anything new there. But, I still loved the book! It is by far the best one I have read.

I loved the mix of characters the author has created. The trip consists of Dale, a person working in a New York advertising agency who comes from the modest background of a family raised on a farm. Then, there are his two brothers, both of whom have their own problems. One of them is a drug addict, who is totally immature and refuses to grow up. The other brother has held a grudge against Dale for a really long time for leaving the family behind and for “running away” from his responsibilities. He is now an alcoholic and is hostile towards Dale right from the start. Add to this trio, Dale’s ex-fiancé whom he also left behind and his current high-maintenance girlfriend who is the spoilt daughter of his boss. With such a cast, the storyline was bound to be explosive.

Each character is clearly well developed and complex. I kept changing my opinions about the all the characters, except for one, throughout the book. I kept moving from hating to loving characters and could not decide whether a character was the good guy or bad. For example, Dale’s past made me feel really sorry for him. He had a tough childhood with an abusive father, which made him bitter towards his family. But I couldn’t stand his actions now, after all these years. This is something I really enjoy, characters which are not painted with just one brush. Each character had a past and personality traits which added many dimensions to them and made them real. The talent of the author lies in making us feel the emotions he wants us to feel. This is not something easy to achieve, and for this I commend him.

The events which take place in the story are fairly standard to any road tip related media. They did add a lot of personality to the book though. They made me laugh, cringe, shout, feel sorry, and finally feel happy. The book also ends strongly. All the loose ends are perfectly tied and everyone goes home happy, well almost everyone. The author also gives us a glimpse in the life of the characters a few years after this road trip. We’re left contented as we know what finally happened to each of the characters.

I found it to be nice that such broken people can also find lasting happiness. This means there is hope for me too! LOL. That is the message I truly love.