Book Review: The Miniaturist By Jessie Burton

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Beautiful book. Set in the puritanical 17th century Amsterdam, the story gives a glimpse into life around the busy streets around the canal. The life of rich traders and their guilds. It made me want to go there!

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Book Review : The Shadow Of The Wind By Carlos Ruiz Zafón

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Book Summary from Goodreads:

Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer’s son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julián Carax. But when he sets out to find the author’s other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax’s books in existence. Soon Daniel’s seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets–an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love.

I have mixed feelings about this book.

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Book review – The Archived, Victoria Schwab

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Loved the book. Novel concept with an eerie atmosphere. Not so bad protagonist and a lovely love angle (Wesley Ayers!).

I know this falls under the young adult category but the book deserves to be read. Come on, Harry Potter was an exceptionally good young adult book.

A nice mystery to keep turning the pages with witty dialogues, Likeable characters, oodles of foreboding and magical realism. You may think something like this might exist in the real world.

What more do you want?

Book Summary :

Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.

Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often-violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous—it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da’s death was hard enough, but now her little brother is gone too. Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.

In this haunting, richly imagined novel, Victoria Schwab reveals the thin lines between past and present, love and pain, trust and deceit, unbearable loss and hard-won redemption.

Book Review – The Forgotten Garden, Kate Morton

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I seem to be picking books with the same theme, rich family and their dark secrets. This one too has the same ingredients. However I think I liked the previous book I read more – The Thirteenth Tale.

This book is about a old lady, Nell who is found, abandoned as a child. She tries to find who she really is. The story continues with her granddaughter, Cassandra who finally unravels her past.

The Forgotten Garden starts at a snail’s pace so mush so that I was about to abandon reading it. The story does not start till 120 pages or more.

I still went on with the book because its a mystery and well, I wanted to know what’s in it.

If you do not like fairy tales beware there is a lot of content around it in the book (especially in the initial pages) and some stories as well. I did like one of the stories though, about a caged bird.

Once the story really starts, it is gripping. It spans five generations of a family and three women tell their story in parts.

The story takes places in a picturesque location and I liked that. It’s in England, a big beautiful garden, a cottage on a cliff and beach below it with a cove.

The mystery is predictable. I had guessed it beforehand and think many can.

Nell’s Character is quite unbelievable and her behavior is illogical, apart form her, rest of the characters are well thought of.

A lot of long descriptions which are not related or interesting enough, slow down the story.

To sum up, it’s a good read if you can get past the first 120 or so pages.

Book Review : The Thirteenth Tale By Diane Setterfield

ImageIt’s a story about sisters. A dark tale about family secrets and loss. About a big estate in ruins, a weird and creepy family causing their own destruction.

A famous author, Ms. Vida Winter calls for an amateur biographer, Margaret Lea to write her biography. Until then the author’s life is a mystery. she makes up stories about her life when journalists interview her every year, each story a different one. Now she is dying and wants to tell her life story. During the story telling, Margaret and Vida Winter feel
connected through a common loss.

Margaret character is not very strong, I did not feel connected to her at all. She is constantly mourning about something which she could get over with. She is a loner, prefers books to people, nothing wrong with that. She just seems too sad for no good reason.

I liked the twist towards the end of the book, the most. It wasn’t something I expected.

There are some very good quotes in the book. For example:

“There is something about words. In expert hands, manipulated deftly, they take you prisoner. Wind themselves around your limbs like spider silk, and when you are so enthralled you cannot move, they pierce your skin, enter your blood, numb your thoughts. Inside you they work their magic.”

“All morning I struggled with the sensation of stray wisps of one world seeping through the cracks of another. Do you know the feeling when you start reading a new book before the membrane of the last one has had time to close behind you? You leave the previous book with ideas and themes — characters even — caught in the fibers of your clothes, and when you open the new book, they are  still with you.”

The attempt to make  the story seem paranormal  annoyed me simply because most situations were not eerie enough, they were in fact stupid. Several times, Margaret sees her reflection in the mirror or a window glass and feels its her dead sister from the other world. Once is okay, not ten times.

The book goes on after the story is finished, it tells about what happens to the characters in the book. I didn’t quite like it. Yes, most authors won’t do that and you wouldn’t know what happens to a chararcterafter its role is played in the
story. Somehow I like it that way, it keeps the mystery. I was disinterested in all these details added after the actual story. This might be a good thing for other readers but for me, it did not work.

Overall the book was interesting, Vida Winter’s past – the crazy family , the sisters behaviour, the governess and the twist.

Book Review : The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

A circus has never interested me. I have not liked movies based on the circus themes or daily soaps and ditto with books. So why did I pick up this book? Hmm, let me see, one – Goodreads gave it a very high rating, two – I had just read Belong to me and did not like it and wanted to read something better, three – it falls under the Fantasy genre. I am like a little child when I see the word magic which I now refer to as Fantasy ( a more sophisticated word) I am drawn to it. Not the young adult Twilight kind of books, no this book is not like it and I am glad.

ImageThe story is about a competition between two magicians and how they involve the circus. The story is still with me after the book is over, the scenes especially, not the characters. I think they could have been stronger but they do okay. I love the descriptions in the book. It has numerous fantastical, unbelievable things that will grip you. The Imagination is simply beautiful!

The strong characters are the ones on the sidelines, for instance the professor, the clockmaker and the contortionist. The story also has romance as a subplot. However the book has a sad undercurrent to it.

The ending really disappointed me. It was sort of predictable. I would have definitely like something meatier. It is also a little absurd, it doesn’t fit.

Overall its a very good book especially if you like fantasy novels.