The Star Touched Queen, Roshani Chokshi – Book Review

1459165497497

25203675Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you’re only seventeen?

Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…

But Akaran has its own secrets—thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most…including herself.

1459165556078

The Star Touched Queen is the story of Maya. Maya, a princess of Bharata, has a terrible horoscope which states that her marriage will result in death and destruction. Because of this, she is shunned in the palace. All the bad things that happen around her are blamed on Maya’s horoscope, stating that her presence was the bad omen which made bad things happen. Maya just wants people to stop treating her the way they do. She dreams of being a scholar, because she knows that after knowing her horoscope, no one will want to marry her and she couldn’t descend to the throne as she is a girl. But, her life changes when her father arranges for a swayamvara, for her to chose a groom for herself from a platoon of princes, for a political alliance. Maya choses Amar and starts to fall for him, but he has his own secrets, which cause a rift between them and leave Maya in a place where she is fighting, not only for her own life, but for that of the world.

What I absolutely loved about the story was the writing. It was lush and beautiful, full of imagery and context and simile. The narrative is captivating and you can’t help but love it. Yes, the extreme amount of ‘purple prose’ used got on my nerves in places, but it was such a refreshing change to read something like this. A feast for the eyes. This book is extremely well written with SO MANY PRETTY WORDS. I adore that!

The plot is basic and simple. I think that is the beauty of it. The motivation of characters to act the way they do is simple – love, jealousy, revenge. It shows how far a person can go to just extract revenge for something they believe is the fault of someone else. The whole book revolved around the revenge plot of one woman who felt that Amar had wronged her.

I liked Maya, the MC, an okay amount. She started as this headstrong girl who wanted to break free of the patriarchy and carve her own path herself. I really admired that about her. But, halfway through, she did such a stupid and naive thing. I mean, I couldn’t believe she did it. Her character arc for the first half had shown that she was reluctant to trust anyone, but then, suddenly, she’s blindly trusting this one person, just because she saw one memory of the two of them together. I didn’t like that part. I mean, Amar had been trying to gain her trust for half the book and she didn’t trust him, was quick to write him off, but she trusted this person within seconds of meeting them. It didn’t make any sense to me. Especially since the story started moving forward only from there.

And then, there’s Amar. He was an enigma and mystery in the beginning of the story and he stayed that way till the end. Literally. By the end of the story, all I knew about Amar was what job he had and that he loved Maya unconditionally. That is it. Amar and Maya had maybe 10 complete, meaningful conversations in the story and more than half of them were before Amar could tell Maya anything about him and his kingdom. I would have liked to know more about Amar, about who he is as a person. Is he kind, smart, charming? Or is he villainous and cruel? I don’t know. I wish I did.

The worst disappointment about this book is how stilted the romance is. Maya and Amar both are prima facie great characters and they had amazing chemistry in the beginning. Their relationship could have been beautiful, but, it was not explored in the story. I wish they had interacted more, spent more time together, gotten to know each other. Amar appears after 5 – 6 chapters in the story and the second half is virtually free of him. He only appears in the last 30 pages. So, yes, he didn’t have much screen time, but what time they had together is glossed over, just saying that Amar was showing Maya around the palace and all its intricacies. They could have been a great couple and I wish that their relationship had been given more screen time. I really do.

What I absolutely adored about this book was all the references to Indian Mythology that were scattered throughout the book. Some of them wove into the main theme beautifully and some were mentioned in the passing as stories and folk tales, but I loved them all. It felt so good to read about them.

I felt that this book could have been so much more beautiful if the author had explored Amar’s character more. There were good things and bad things, but overall, reading TSTQ was a beautiful journey and I enjoyed it, for the most part.

1459165616958

_20160402_202223

 

1460788046527

Goodreads | Amazon US | Amazon IN | B&N | Book Depository | Wordery

1459165672531

13695109Roshani grew up in Georgia, where she acquired a Southern accent but does not use it unless under duress. She has a luck dragon that looks suspiciously like a Great Pyrenees dog. Her work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Uncanny Magazine, Shimmer, and Book Smugglers. She is the 2016 finalist for the Andre Norton Award, and a 2016 Locus finalist for Best First Novel. Her short story, The Star Maiden, was longlisted for the British Fantasy Science Award.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

#TheLateLateReviews – Holding Up The Universe, Jennifer Niven

1459165497497

28686840Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed “America’s Fattest Teen.” But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to know who she really is. Following her mom’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for every possibility life has to offer. In that moment, I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything. 

Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin, too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the impossible art of giving people what they want, of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a newly acquired secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone.

Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game—which lands them in group counseling and community service—Libby and Jack are both pissed, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world, theirs and yours.

 

1459165556078

*ARC provided via netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The thoughts are entirely my own and in no way biased.*

I do not have enough words for this story. I just love it so much. So very much. The story is absolutely beautiful, the characters so good and the writing flawless. I mean, this book has it all. Total points to Niven for writing such a beautiful story.

tumblr_o6bj9h3hZP1re3x32o1_500

Libby, the female lead, was dubbed America’s Fattest Teen. She had an eating disorder which came into picture after her mom died. She ate away her sorrows and then she was so huge she couldn’t leave her house. They had to cut her out. Then, there was the news and the hate mail and everything went to shit, excuse my French. But, Libby remained headstrong and now, two years later, she’s lost almost 300 pounds and is ready to go back to school for her senior year. In school, she meets Jack, a fellow senior with problems of his own. After a rocky start, they start becoming friends when doing community service as part of detention.

What I like about this story is that though Jack and Libby share their fears with each other, they overcome it own their own. Yes, finding a person who understands them helps, but everything isn’t sunshine and roses because they’ve met that one person. The problems don’t disappear. They’re still there. They’re still gnawing in the back of their mind. And, through the course of the story, Jack and Libby overcome them. Without each other’s help. That sends across a huge message. You don’t need anyone else to fight your battles for you. You shouldn’t need anyone. You are enough.

tumblr_n4yxgfej4z1qf9mevo1_500

That is the best part about the book, but the story in itself is amazing as well. The struggles that these two 18 year olds face and the way they deal with everything is beautifully written. High School can be vicious and this shows how much. People will bully you but it is necessary to not let them affect you. Libby did that. She came on top despite being bullied, despite people putting “you are not wanted” notes in her locker. If she did it, so can we. She’ an amazing character and watching her finally let go of her insecurities is great. She’s making so much progress and it’s great to see throughout the story. I love that even though she’s fat, she doesn’t shy away from dancing and running (as many of us do. I’m fat and  I hate to dance or run in front of people). Not only does she do it, she’s bloody awesome at it. I’m in awe of her. The way she handles herself is truly beautiful. She’s amazing!

images-1

(Excerpt from a letter that Libby passes around her school to everyone.)

Jack is frustrating and annoying in the beginning. He is in an on again off again relationship with a bitchy girl and you wonder why that is because Jack isn’t like her. But, as the story progresses, we find that Jack is with her because he’s trying to find the fourteen year old girl he liked. One that doesn’t exist anymore. Add to the fact that she’s safe. And she’s like a bad habit Jack can’t let go. But, then, Libby comes into the picture and his dwindling feelings for his ex start fading even more. Through the course of the book, he falls for Libby. I absolutely love that he associates Libby with sunshine. It’s the cutest thing ever. He loves his family and even though he isn’t brave enough to tell him suffers from prosopagnosia, he tries his best. Things aren’t always great with is brothers and his father is an asshole, but, they’re his family and he loves them. He’s there for them when it counts. There have always been issues and there’s stuff that’s bad, but there’s also stuff that’s good and he make do – s with what he’s got. His family dynamic is another thing that I love about the book. It shows how you can dislike (even hate) people for things they’ve done but still love them. I think Jack is an amazingly written character. Really good.

images

This a story that I would definitely recommend people to read because it’s real and it’s about people who are bullied, who are fat, who have suffered depression. There are many of us out there. Many of us who feel unwanted because of whatever life has thrown at us. It is not true. You matter. What you think matters. You are wanted. It is important that we remember that.

images-3

PS: The quotes are from Holding Up The Universe and the pictures and GIFs are not mine. Thank you, Google.

1459165616958

_20160402_202131

1460788046527

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | YouTube Trailer

1459165672531

45592By the time I was ten, I had already written numerous songs, a poem for Parker Stevenson (“If there were a Miss America for men, You would surely win”), two autobiographies (All About Me and My Life in Indiana: I Will Never Be Happy Again), a Christmas story, several picture books (which I illustrated myself) featuring the Doodle Bugs from Outer Space, a play about Laura Ingalls Wilder’s sister entitled Blindness Strikes Mary, a series of prison mysteries, a collection of short stories featuring me as the main character (an internationally famous rock star detective), and a partially finished novel about Vietnam. I was also an excellent speller from a very early age.

In 2000, I started writing full-time, and I haven’t stopped… I’ve written nine books (#9 will be out Oct 4, 2016), and when I’m not working on the tenth, I’m writing the screenplay for All the Bright Places, contributing to my web magazine, Germ (www.germmagazine.com), thinking up new books, and dabbling in TV. I am always writing.

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Tumblr