Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (3)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where we feature the books we're waiting for!
This week, I'm waiting for:

PURE by Julianna Baggot
We know you are here, our brothers and sisters . . .
Pressia barely remembers the Detonations or much about life during the Before. In her sleeping cabinet behind the rubble of an old barbershop where she lives with her grandfather, she thinks about what is lost-how the world went from amusement parks, movie theaters, birthday parties, fathers and mothers . . . to ash and dust, scars, permanent burns, and fused, damaged bodies. And now, at an age when everyone is required to turn themselves over to the militia to either be trained as a soldier or, if they are too damaged and weak, to be used as live targets, Pressia can no longer pretend to be small. Pressia is on the run.

Burn a Pure and Breathe the Ash . . .
There are those who escaped the apocalypse unmarked. Pures. They are tucked safely inside the Dome that protects their healthy, superior bodies. Yet Partridge, whose father is one of the most influential men in the Dome, feels isolated and lonely. Different. He thinks about loss-maybe just because his family is broken; his father is emotionally distant; his brother killed himself; and his mother never made it inside their shelter. Or maybe it's his claustrophobia: his feeling that this Dome has become a swaddling of intensely rigid order. So when a slipped phrase suggests his mother might still be alive, Partridge risks his life to leave the Dome to find her.
When Pressia meets Partridge, their worlds shatter all over again.

So what are you waiting for this wednesday?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Top 10 Best Settings for YA novels- Part 1

So this is a post about novel settings. You’ve got to love these books which are set in places that seem nearly magical. By magical, I don’t mean there has to be unicorns or singing fountains, but there has to be the thrill of discovery, of seeing a whole world through a character’s eyes. So here we go with my list of awesome novel settings!
Number 1: The World within a World
This has to be my favourite of all time. There’s just something about there being a hidden world right in ours! It’s totally fascinating to think that you could be standing at Kings’ Cross between platform nine and ten, on September 1, and that the Hogwarts Express is somewhere just beyond...or imagine suddenly walking into something like a gateway to Faery... This is always amazing because we KNOW the world the character inhabits in the beginning, and the magical otherworld is always just beyond the veil...
My Best Books in this Category: Harry Potter, which wins hands down, and Incarceron by Catherine Fisher. Cassandra Clare and Holly Black’s works are notable. So are the Percy Jackson and Artemis Fowl series.
Number 2: The Future
Oh, this setting is absolutely FABULOUS. Because, you know, I can say people in the future are orange skinned, and no one can dispute me. Anything is possible in the future. Everything is possible in the future, because the future is unknown. Awesome, right? And also there’ll be a lot of techy gadgetry which I’m so mad about.
My Best Books: The Hunger Games trilogy, Neil Gaiman’s Snow Crash, Enders Game, and the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (which really tops this list).

Number 3: The Closed and Cramped
This setting is mostly exploited by Stephen King and Dean Koontz. You know, putting people in a building or someplace cramped and working on their emotions. This setting is quite frightening, basically because there’s nowhere to run. Typically, it’s pretty high on my list.
1408, Under the Dome and the Shining by King, Strangers by Koontz, 1222 by Anne Holt and the Harrowing by Alexandra Sokoloff are prime examples.

Number 4: The Exotic
To do this kind of writing really well, you must have first travelled somewhere exotic, or lived somewhere exotic. Living in India has its greatest perk in that you can find a lot to write about if you just walk out on a random street. My favourite setting in India is the pre-Independence era. I love books set in the stranger European countries: especially Romania, Norway, Finland, and my ABSOLUTE favourites ever: Istanbul, Prague and Bucharest.
Orhan Pamuk, William Dalrymple and Elizabeth Kostova comes to mind instantly. I am a huge fan of Kostova.
Number 5: Small Town America

From Kristen Hubbard's website

I don’t know what it is about this that attracts me, it just does. I like the sentimentalism and moral values that seem to be in the fabric of the characters’ mould. I like towns where everyone knows everyone else, everyone still lives in a kind of past. It’s sweet, I think, most books set in this kind of setting.
 Of course, again, Stephen King uses a lot of small town setting...Recently; I read Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard and thought the town of Washokey was described beautifully. I also enjoy the description of Gatlin in the Caster Chronicles. Recently, I also liked Graveminder by Melissa Marr, set in Claytown and Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves, set in Portero, Texas.
Next Week, I'll do the rest of the Settings Post :)
So do you have a favourite setting for a book? Or do you have a specific book in mind you think is the best of any of these categories? Leave me a comment!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Review: St Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves

Goodreads Summary (a bit shortened) :
A dazzling debut, a blazingly original voice: the ten stories in St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves introduce a radiant new talent.

In the collection’s title story, a pack of girls raised by wolves are painstakingly reeducated by nuns. In “Haunting Olivia,” two young boys make midnight trips to a boat graveyard in search of their dead sister, who set sail in the exoskeleton of a giant crab. In “Z.Z.’s Sleepaway Camp for Disordered Dreamers,” a boy whose dreams foretell implacable tragedies is sent to a summer camp for troubled sleepers (Cabin 1, Narcoleptics; Cabin 2, Sleep Apneics; Cabin 3, Somnambulists . . . ). And “Ava Wrestles the Alligator” introduces the remarkable Bigtree Wrestling Dynasty—Grandpa Sawtooth, Chief Bigtree, and twelve-year-old Ava—proprietors of Swamplandia!, the island’s #1 Gator Theme Park and Café
Russell’s stories are beautifully written and exuberantly imagined, but it is the emotional precision behind their wondrous surfaces that makes them unforgettable. Magically, from the spiritual wilderness and ghostly swamps of the Florida Everglades, against a backdrop of ancient lizards and disconcertingly lush plant life—in an idiom that is as arrestingly lovely as it is surreal—Karen Russell shows us who we are and how we live.
Know what made me pick up this anthology of short stories, despite being someone who prefers novels a lot more? The title of this book. St Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves.
What. A. Title.
I knew I was in for something original, quirky, fascinating and magical the moment I started reading the first story- Ava Wrestles the Alligator- which is a real treat. A young girl, living in a swamp, looking after alligators while her sister has an affair with a ghost named Luscious? How much more original can you get? More than this, though, Karen Russel's prose is simply stunning. I've read Swamplandia! which is her novel based on the Ava story, but the beauty of her writing shines much more in this collection than in the average novel.
Haunting Olivia, which is about two brothers searching for the luminous ghost of their dead sister Olivia underwater using special goggles is simply fabulous. Look at this description of Olivia, for example:
She used to change into Wallow’s rubbery yellow flippers on the bus, then waddle around the school halls like some disoriented mallard. She played “house” by getting the broom and sweeping the neon corpses of dead jellyfish off the beach. Her eyes were a stripey cerulean, inhumanly bright. Dad used to tell Olivia that a merman artisan had made them, out of bits of sea glass from Atlantis.

In ZZ's Camp for Disordered Dreamers, we come across Elijah, with the ability to predict things that have already happened in the past through his dreams. A "pastmonition" as he calls it, again this short story is simply fascinating, because it seems rather unlikely to be set in this world.
Here's a sampler:
Z.Z.’s Sleep-Away Camp is divided down all kinds of lines: campers who can’t sleep vs. campers who sleep too much, campers who control their bladders vs. campers who do not, campers who splinter through headboards vs. campers who lie still as the dead.
In yet another, strange and marvellous story, a boy recounts his memories of migrating with his Minotaur father (yes! with horns!) and in another, a large woman runs a Palace of Artificial Snows and causes a huge, festival-like event called the Blizzard, and in yet another, little girls sail away on Precambrian Shells. The title of the book is the title of the final story, where a group of nuns try to civilize a set of girls raised by wolves.

Each story in this short collection is as fascinating as the one before, basically because Russel seems to have no rules when it comes to her imagined world. Her world, an island in Florida Everglades, I think someone has said, is at once both startlingly too familiar yet utterly magical. It's a place where anything can happen. With well-drawn characters (a feat when you're writing short-stories), abrupt, almost flourish-like endings that leave you gaping, and a totally new look at the art of story-telling, this collection is really, truly, surely, one to cherish.

That said, my favourite is Ava Wrestles the Alligator, so I'll leave you with a short quote from it (Do read this if you haven't, it's an experience!) :
My older sister has entire kingdoms inside of her, and some of them are only accessible at certain seasons, in certain kinds of weather. One such melting occurs in summer rain, at midnight, during the vine-green breathing time right before sleep. You have to ask the right question, throw the right rope bridge, to get there—and then bolt across the chasm between you, before your bridge collapses.

We’d heard rumors about former wolf-girls who never adapted to their new culture. It was assumed that they were returned to our native country, the vanishing woods. We liked to speculate about this before bedtime, scaring ourselves with stories of catastrophic bliss. It was the disgrace, the failure that we all guiltily hoped for in our hard beds. Twitching with the shadow question: Whatever will become of me?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (2)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine so we can all talk about the books we're waiting for!

This Wednesday, I'm obviously waiting for The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, which is a MG/YA novel already being compared to Harry Potter. Really? Harry Potter? I guess I'll just have to wait and see...Since I already did a post on the Night Circus, I'm gonna be focussing on another book, this one by Brenna Yovanoff, whose The Replacement I simply adored because of its fabulous characters and fabulous world. Again, this seems to be a kind of story where the main character is confused between two worlds, as Mackie Doyle was in the Replacement. I think the cover looks really good, although NOWHERE as fabulous as the cover for Replacement, which is on my top best covers ever list. But still, Brenna's writing itself should be enough to get this book upto NYT bestseller list.


4.17 of 5 stars 4.17  ·  rating details  ·  35 ratings  ·  20 reviews
to the vast streets of Earth, where everything is colder and more terrifying. With the help of the human boy she believes was the last person to see her brother alive, Daphne glimpses into his dreams, discovering clues to Obie's whereabouts. As she delves deeper into her demonic powers, she must navigate the jealousies and alliances of the violent archangels who stand in her way. But she also discovers, unexpectedly, what it means to love and be human in a world where human is the hardest thing to be.

This second novel by rising star Brenna Yovanoff is a story of identity, discovery, and a troubled love between two people struggling to find their place both in our world and theirs.
Looks good, huh? So what are you waiting for, this wednesday?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Cover Crazy: 1: The Hair Thing

Don't judge a book by it's cover, but it's not against the law to judge a cover, is it? Cover Crazy is going to be a new feature on the blog where I discuss covers, mostly seperated into types. This week's Cover Crazy features Hair, mostly, so we'll be looking at some covers Too hairy? Just read on!

1. Birthmarked
Weird cover all over, but the hair and the textures is nice. Wish that yellow hadn't been there though. Why not sea-blue?

In the future, in a world baked dry by the harsh sun, there are those who live inside the wall and those, like sixteen-year-old midwife Gaia Stone, who live outside. Gaia has always believed it is her duty, with her mother, to hand over a small quota of babies to the Enclave. But when Gaia's mother and father are arrested by the very people they so dutifully serve, Gaia is forced to question everything she has been taught to believe. Gaia's choice is now simple: enter the world of the Enclave to rescue her parents, or die trying.
Caragh O'Brien's next book, Prized, has a gorgeous cover, which I will feature in next week's Cover Crazy.

2. Keep Sweet by Michele Dominiguez Greene
I discovered this book looking for the cover, and now it's on by must-read pile! The cover is gorgeous, I wish the text had looked a little more impressive.
Alva Jane has never questioned her parents, never questioned her faith, never questioned her future. She is content with the strict rules that define her life in Pineridge, the walled community where she lives with her father, his seven wives, and her twenty-eight siblings. This is the only world Alva has ever known, and she has never thought to challenge it.
But everything changes when Alva is caught giving her long-time crush an innocent first kiss. Beaten, scorned, and now facing a forced marriage to a violent, fifty-year old man, Alva suddenly realizes how much she has to lose--and how impossible it will be to escape.

Blindsided3. Blindsided by Priscilla Cummings
This cover is gorgeous, but it could have been so much better with a little color (just a little). It's a fabulous idea, inculcating Braille in the cover.
In many ways, Natalie O’Reilly is a typical fourteenyear- old girl. But a routine visit to the eye doctor produces devastating news: Natalie will lose her sight within a few short months.
Suddenly her world is turned upside down. Natalie is sent to a school for the blind to learn skills such as Braille and how to use a cane. Outwardly, she does as she’s told; inwardly, she hopes for a miracle that will free her from a dreaded life of blindness. But the miracle does not come, and Natalie ultimately must confront every blind person’s dilemma. Will she go home to live scared? Or will she embrace the skills she needs to make it in a world without sight?

4. Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper
This is a beautiful cover, the colours are gorgeous. I wish they'd taken those black vines away.
Fallen Grace by Mary HooperGrace Parkes has just had to do a terrible thing. Having given birth to an illegitimate child, she has travelled to the famed Brookwood Cemetery to place her small infant's body in a rich lady's coffin. Following the advice of a kindly midwife, this is the only way that Grace can think of to give something at least to the little baby who died at birth, and to avoid the ignominy of a pauper's grave. Distraught and weeping, Grace meets two people at the cemetery: Mrs Emmeline Unwin and Mr James Solent. These two characters will have a profound affect upon Grace's life. But Grace doesn't know that yet. For now, she has to suppress her grief and get on with the business of living: scraping together enough pennies selling watercress for rent and food; looking after her older sister, who is incapable of caring for herself; thwarting the manipulative and conscience-free Unwin family, who are as capable of running a lucrative funeral business as they are of defrauding a young woman of her fortune. A stunning evocation of life in Victorian London, with vivid and accurate depictions, ranging from the deprivation that the truly poor suffered to the unthinking luxuries enjoyed by the rich: all bound up with a pacy and thrilling plot, as Grace races to unravel the fraud about to be perpetrated against her and her sister.

by midnight by mia james
5. By Midnight: Mia James
The gorgeousness of this cover is in the wavy black hair. We have so less black hair on covers, and even less wavy hair. Full marks for this one!
Forget everything you thought you knew about vampire lore and delve into the sinister world of Ravenwood.

A prestigious academy for gifted students - the school April Dunne’s whole life has been uprooted for – and frankly, she is not impressed. For most it couldn’t get any worse – but for April it’s about to – because there’s more going on at Ravenwood than meets the eye...

6. Entangled by Cat Clarke
Obviously, this is my favorite. The red is simply eye-catching and matches the text, as well as contrasts the eye color.

'The same questions whirl round and round in my head:
What does he want from me?
How could I have let this happen?
17-year-old Grace wakes up in a white room, with table, pens and paper - and no clue how she got there.

As Grace pours her tangled life onto the page, she is forced to remember everything she's tried to forget. There's falling hopelessly in love with the gorgeous Nat, and the unravelling of her relationship with her best friend Sal. But there's something missing. As hard as she's trying to remember, is there something she just can't see?

Grace must face the most important question of all. Why is she here?

So here we are! Six books, six covers all about the hair. Think this list isn't fair, or can you think of any other books to add to this list? Leave a comment to let me know. Ta ta!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

New Look, New Books, New Pics

So everyone! How d'ya like the blue, black and white look? It's got a distinctly weird appearance, I know, but that is what I wanted it to be, because right now I'm writing a very weird story! Today, I'm sharing a book I totally want to read. In fact, I'm dying to read this one because it is actually being compared to Harry Potter. It looks totally fun, the art is TO DIE FOR, and I absolutely love the synopsis. So I give you, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.
But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.
True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

It's pretty cool, right? It's coming out of September 2011
I'm also gonna share something I made...a digital artwork for a friend's story:

Credit goes to Stephenie of
and Tigg-stock on DeviantArt

So leave me comments guys! Did you like the new layout? Or was the old one better?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Independence Day

31 states.
1618 languages.
6400 castes.
6 religions.
6 ethnic groups.
29 major festivals.

It's India's 65th Independence Day today.
65 years since a 1947 August 15th, when the tricolor first went up. 65 years of freedom. Through hard patches and rockiness, we have stuck as a nation, despite all our differences. Today I went to the hospital regarding my asthma, and the girl sitting next to me was North Indian. She spoke a language I couldn't understand, wore her saffron-paste differently from the way we wear it, and her mother's sari was draped in an exact inversion of the way my mother usually does it. Despite all that, though, I could see her typing on her phone: a message about India,  about Independence Day, about the 15th of August that anyone who is proud to be an Indian will surely always remember as the day when India first became a nation of her own.
India, at least according to me, is not just a nation. 
It seems impossible that so many diverse cultures and diverse people could exist together under one flag, one tricolor, but that is my country, my subcontinent, my India. I live in the southernmost district of India, at the southernmost tip of it, but having traveled nearly the length and breadth of the country, I think I am right in saying that nowhere else in the world can you find some place so amazing, so vibrant, so diverse.
from Nathu La pass
I want to just give a small example: when I visited Nathu La pass, the pass that acts as a trade route between India and China-when I stood in the minus degree temperature freezing and touching the wall between India and China, I could see a snow-capped mountain with the words "Mera Bharat Mahan" or "My Country is Great" raised on the mountain surface with wooden stalks, and a tricolor at the summit.The soldiers there have to suffer through temperatures cold enough to freeze even gel toothpaste, but they do it out of patriotism, out of the fire in our veins when we see the flag, the Ashoka Chakra, the years and years of culture that goes all the way back to the Indus Valley Civilization at the beginning of history.  
Happy Independence Day to every proud Indian, every person born or living in what is surely the cradle of civilization, education and hospitality.
I am proud to be an Indian, proud to flaunt my Indian complexion and my Indian upbringing and my Indian culture. I am proud of everything that makes me Indian.
From 4 to
Maa Tujhe Salam.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

You, Me, and the Internet.

Yo, guys.
You won't believe what horrors I've been going through.
If you get a time machine and step back into a time not so long ago, when a net connection meant speed as slow as a sloth, you'll find yourself in my shoes. This connection is KILLING me. So obviously, I haven't posted for a while, and that does not mean I haven't got a truck load of posts waiting for you guys. Followers should probably note that my email account has changed ( I had to get a new one because Google Chrome kept crashing when I typed in the old one!)
So anyway. I have a list of things to say.
1) About My Love Affair With Books: This blog is one of the few really awesome blogs I've seen from my region and I was shocked to see that Misha has left blogging. She has her reasons of course, but her blog was the first to tell the world about mine, and I salute her for being such a great support. I'll miss you, Misha.

2) About my writing: The My Writing page you see up there is updated with my stories now. Please read!

3) About Harry Potter: I am in Harry Potter Obsession: Stage Two. This is the stage where, four years after I thought I was sort of over HP, I go back to reading, re-reading and quoting (yes, dudes and dudettes) QUOTING, from Potter. I'm writing a Fanfiction to control all this HP-related energy, called the Deveraux Problem, link is on the My Writing Page.

4) About Facebook: No, I don't want to say anything about FB, right now, except that...has anyone tried Google Plus? :P

5) About Me:
General Obsessions at Present:
. Dystopian Novels.
. Stephen King's Dark Tower series
. Dishing dirt on badly written paranormal romances.
. Magnetic second studs.
. Glass Bangles ( I bought a lot of them today! Awesome! Do you know they look good with jeans?)
. Virtual Reality. (I don't know. I wanna write a story on this one.)
. Shadow Play. (ditto as above.)

6) About You
THANK YOU, thank you thank you, for staying with me throughout this gap. I am so sorry if some of your comments didn't get through, the whole account was all screwed up, but now we're on our feet again!

So here's a question: What color scheme should the blog's new design be? Blue, white, black....or yellow, black, green? Comment, please!


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Images used in this blog are either digital art created by the author or free photographs. Reviews and views expressed on this site are strictly personal. Text by Varsha Dinesh is copyrighted under Creative Commons.