Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

Step aside, Harry Potter universe. The next best world building is in town.

If I had to describe the magical aspect of this book with one word, it would be minimalism. I grasped the elements very easily but that doesn’t make it any less incredible. I love how compact the world building is yet, so rich. I always fear that a fantasy novel would take long, descriptive passages that sound like a textbook to explain its history but books like ADSOM really ease that doubt. The book talked about the worlds’ pasts like they were anecdotes. Lightly but not diminishing its seriousness.

World building that is this vivid is remarkable and if I hadn’t read Schwab’s works before, I would be genuinely surprised. Her books have a distinguishable style- that is, to create a world closely knit to reality but with a load of fantasy elements that Schwab sculpted out of thin air.

Let’s inspect these fine characters, shall we? Kell, with a stiff exterior and a complex web of interior. Lila, with her heart made of steel and her knives full of love. Rhys, the ever charming prince who is so much more than that. The character in this series have so much stuff that makes them who they are; layers that define them and help develop them as they proceed.

This series is going to be around for a long time- with the collector’s edition coming up and the TV series that’ll release sometime in the future. And if we run out of that, there are the infinite fan fictions to try (if one is brave enough).


Review: The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak

A contemporary coming-of-age that is filled with gaming jargon and screams “geek”? I’d reread the heck out of this!


You know how, in life, two series of unconnected events somehow become relevant to each other? I’d love Rekulak to explain to me how a plan to steal a magazine perfectly align with the protagonist meeting a fellow coder. The book narrated the storyline so well that just upon retrospection did I realize this.

This was a quick read for me- as all contemporaries are- and while it was very regular in setting with its boy meets girl concept, it stands out for its unique, realistic characters and for how it champions geeks- clueless, asocial and all.

One of the reasons I would recommend this to Ready Player One fans is because of how technical the book gets. While it isn’t set in a different world nor does it have elements of fantasy, The Impossible Fortress is the back end of what is RP1. It’s a story about video game developers. Moreover, being set in the 80s makes you wonder if this could be a glimpse into the Oasis (RP1 game) creator’s world.


This book totally made me want to learn coding. So much so that I’ve signed up for a couple of courses online.

Which contemporary book is on the top of your list? Any book made you pick up a new hobby?

Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

You’ve never encountered video games in such a surreal, larger than reality setting.


Where do I begin?! Forget what dystopia has meant to you conventionally; this book redefines it. Unlike our archetypal dystopian fiction where they save the world from a tyrant while falling in love, this book is a reread worthy, video game based masterpiece. Our main character establishes how messed up the world is in the year 2044 and, despite my prenotions when introduced to this ruin of a future, the book does not try to save it. Such instances prove how sensible the book is and takes a route few books in this sub-genre follow.

As I began the book, I had no clue that, by the second chapter, I would nosedive into a universe so magnified in (just) words that I experienced exactly what our main character felt. If you ever watched Interstellar or Gravity, you would have experienced a moment where you felt suffocated by the space and how real and touchable the virtual worlds felt. At one point of this book, that’s exactly what I went through. I imagined myself on those very quests. Not many stories can transport you into their worlds as Ready Player One did. The Night Circus was the last book that pulled me in like this.


This year has just started but I bet that Ready Player One will feature in my favorites list at the end of the year. I don’t think I’m alone with my sentiments since everyone I’ve spoken to has connected to the book. With its movie in the works, I can’t wait for people to discover and discuss the various elements that flow through this story. On a related note, I’m hoping there’s a sequel novel to this or even just a spin-off set in the same world.

Smart by Kim Slater

Everyone compares this book to “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time”. It’s so much more than that.




The book just mentions that Kieran has “special” needs but through the narration, it’s apparent that he has autism. A mark of a well-told story. What interested me most was how Slater took a plain and day-to-day plot and transformed it to highlight Kieran’s character and reaction to it.

Also, emotions: in every situation, you could hear his mood coming off the words. Slater wrote Kieran so well that I could feel his anxiety.

Accurately showing autism with no hitches in pace, it’s no mystery why I love this book. It’s short, sweet and leaves your heart filled. I can’t wait for A Seven Letter Word!

Have you read a book that gives justice to a mental illness? Talk to me about it! Have you read Smart yet?

Review: Vicious by V. E. Schwab

“Shall I compare thee to a heartbreak?
Thou art more lovely and more tempting”




This book shows how grey life is, how ultimately, a hero doesn’t have to be right and the villain may be fighting for justice after all. I love the concept of EOs (ExtraOrdinaries) and how Schwab doesn’t take the biased, predictable road.

There’s a lot of hype surrounding this book, well-deserved hype at that. This story delivers on so many levels; and most importantly, the science fiction aspect of it was properly researched.

Can we talk about the characters? What a variety; three dimensional and realistic. We have a hero (I passionately hate), a sassy preteen, and the bearer of revenge: Victor Vale. What can I tell you about Victor Vale that hasn’t already been said? The complexities of his character- that confirm with the greyness of life (as mentioned above)- can make you stumble with praise.

In short, a book you wouldn’t want to finish. A book that defies all laws of stereotype. And does it in with such Valesque style.


What are your thoughts on Vicious? Which book invokes such strong feelings in you?

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

A summery read that doesn’t skim on the issues or the diversity.

Author: Sarah Ockler

Genre: Contemporary | Romance

Release Date: 2 June 2015

Publication: Simon Pulse

Pages: 368 pages

Link: Goodreads

The youngest of six talented sisters, Elyse d’Abreau was destined for stardom—until a boating accident took everything from her. Now, the most beautiful singer in Tobago can’t sing. She can’t even speak.

Seeking quiet solitude, Elyse accepts a friend’s invitation to Atargatis Cove. Named for the mythical first mermaid, the Oregon seaside town is everything Elyse’s home in the Caribbean isn’t: an ocean too cold for swimming, parties too tame for singing, and people too polite to pry—except for one.

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids is a diverse read (as seen on its cover). Despite its light, summer reads qualities, it had some substantial issues to tackle without really making them a big deal.

On Goodreads, I saw a string of 5 stars attached to most reviews and I get why this book is widely adored. Below are moments when I felt that this book deserved a higher rating-

1. When Ockler took a tired-out stereotype (the charming playboy) and made it work in a direction she paved out herself.
2. This book is sex positive without making it the main focus.
3. Despite Elyse being mute, her interaction with the other characters was visible in her struggle to get them to understand her. Moments like those made sure that her difficulty in adjusting to her condition was not lost.
4. There are a lot of phrases through which, you can see Elyse learning to wipe off the loss and the grief and trying to understand where she is and how she should proceed.

Anger was easier to hold, to focus on, than grief. Anger was sharp edged and clear. Grief was messy, blurry.

Also, the book has some good advice to shell out if you’re listening.

There’s no weakness in crying, Meredith. Only illumination.

Some days, you win the battle just by showing up.

And some interesting questions to speculate over.

What happened when the one thing you loved, the song of your soul, was taken from you? What pieces of your old life were you left with, and how could you begin to put them back together

Is the Devil Really in the Details?

Despite all those highlights, I had a problem with the details that were spread across. In the beginning of the book, there’s a lot of details, very minute details that don’t seem relevant, to weave through. Reading through that, I felt my interest wavering.
Similarly, there are lots of moments in this book where Elyse is rambling on without any point.

Retelling Or Not?

The book has been emphasised as a Little Mermaid retelling. It certainly is an unusual retelling, without any magic and just a little speculation/ talk about the mermaids.

There was one scene which looked like it was included just to add some of the fairytale’s charm. It didn’t fit at all since it had fantasy elements(just that scene) and didn’t go with the rest of the story at all.


Despite a few hitches, the book had a lot of depth and that set it apart from the rest of the romance novels on this side of YA. Despite some parts that fell flat, I enjoyed Chasing Mermaids and now have the urge to visit the Oregon coast and Trindad and Tobago.

What are your thoughts on this book? How do feel about fairytales being retold in a contemporary romance? Is the magic lost when the magic isn’t really there?

Review: Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

There’s so much positive buzz for this book and it’s all true.


This book preaches coming to terms with who and how you are more than anything else.

People really are like houses with vast rooms and tiny windows. And maybe it’s a good thing, the way we never stop surprising each other.

What makes Simon so special?

  1. This book is a keeper. Albertalli personifies teenage life with all it’s angsty and self-pity moments into words, relatable words that work for anyone.
  2. This high school took all those stereotypes between nerds and soccer players and mixed them up. This diverse set of characters surround our protagonist and the interaction between them is blunt and real.
  3. Have you wanted a novel about that side character in the story who is twenty times more impactful than the main character? This is the book you’re looking for.
  4. Speaking of characters, the family dynamic is my favourite. We’ve got parents who are involved in the teenager’s life AND they have a great relationship. Which hasn’t been explored in YA properly.
  5. This book shuns the default. Yes, those questions we’ve been asking ourselves everyday have been voiced out loud.

It is definitely annoying that straight (and white, for that matter) is the default, and that the only people who have to think about their identity are the ones who don’t fit that mold. Straight people really should have to come out, and the more awkward it is, the better.

Digital Age and Anonymity

As I’ve said, this book is very close to reality and one aspect that reinforces it is the internet and its role in Simon’s life. Moreover, it imbibed the current digital age accurately without making it the main focus.
The book explores the way people behave online versus offline. We see how bullying is a fusion of things said online and acted on offline.


I keep saying this but Simon is as close to reality and honest as it gets. Albertalli has articulated this story as if she is a teenager herself.
For its open portrayal of the most dynamic characters and its simple yet effective writing, Simon and Co. have earned a place in my very critical heart.

Have you read this book yet? Tell me how it was for you!

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Have you read a book that takes you ages to finish because you need to absorb the rich imagery it is filled with?


Here’s a book you’d be better off going into blind. It’s a perfect balance of fantasy and contemporary. Morgenstern is a wizard in creating a setting adapted perfectly into the modern world yet so deviant from it. It’s tough to weave complex and thin details into a book and while keeping an elegant vibe. You get lost in the lifestyle of the circus and there’s a sigh of regret as you finish the book. Another defeated whimper escapes you when you realize you can never witness the circus in reality.

I did have difficulty at the beginning of the book. The pacing was irregular, and at times, that made me reach for another book, possibly a quick read.The latter parts rectified the problem though. The emphasis on the different tents and intricate descriptions make you twitch to be there. Even though the synopsis focuses on the two characters, we find the book to do more with the Circus and the spell it binds on others.

Multiple point of views usually don’t work for me but with this book, I got used to easily. These different narrations put light on the dynamic perspectives- on the lives of people being affected by the Circus and the Circus as a fully functioning life form. Morgenstern made switching narrations seem classy and easy (when usually, it gets very messy and annoying).

I won’t go into further details since that’s almost as if I’m robbing your imagination of witnessing the Circus yourself (unless you’ve read it so you understand this sentiment then). I’m off to read the book again to discover and notice what I didn’t the first time.

How was your experience with the book? Do you think the climax was satisfying enough? Is there a place you think would be great for such a whimsical read?