My Review of Zero Repeat Forever by Gabrielle Prendergast

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Omg!!! This book is so heartbreaking and touching and beautiful! I think this has to be the best SciFi I’ve read in this year. It’s so good and I’m glad I read it without wasting time.

This book is a SciFi version of Beauty and the Beast, but nothing like ACOTAR or Beastly or even Wintersong. Set against 21st century America, somewhere near the Rocky Mountains, this book is about alien invasion (or is it?) and humanity at its worst and all. When I first read the summary on Goodreads and the first few chapters, I thought, “Oh so this will be another Warm Bodies but with aliens.” I have a pretty narrow view of aliens live story, since it kinda creeps me out. But I still read them, mostly because I’d like to be proven wrong.

THIS BOOK PROVED ME WRONG!!!

I loved the central characters so much. There were two point of views, from a human girl and an alien soldier’s. The female protagonist, Raven (who is also biracial, half white half black), is fierce and pessimistic and does not sit back and let others dictate her life. And I just adored Eighth/August, the alien boy soldier, for being so adorable in love with Raven and being so sentimental and emotional when he’s not supposed to be, when his species isn’t supposed to be.

I love love love love love him! He’s naïve, innocent, sweet and charming like R was in Warm Bodies.

Anyway, here are more reasons to read this book:

01) Realistic Plot:

Okay, SciFi are NOT realistic and so isn’t this book’s plot. Yet the portrayal of all things that could’ve happened and could’ve been felt by everyone is shown here. All the emotions are so poignant and raw and just hurts you like you can be hurt by a story.

So the plot is that aliens called Nahx have attacked planet earth and are mercilessly darting people. The Nahx are tall, like basketball players tall, with a body armor that can both shield them from harm and also helps them feel things. Their only weakness is at their neck where a stab can pretty much do the trick. And they don’t feel anything other than rage and bloodthirst. So yeah pretty much killing machine. They resemble to human wearing astronaut suits and helmet. And they’re ranked according to their mental functionality, like the most devoid of feelings and most cruel and direct are First, then there are Second, Third, Fourth etc. Our adorable hero Eighth/August is an eighth, so pretty low. His ability to feel beauty and human emotions make him defected to his kind.

Anyway, this story never once sounds unrealistic other than the one question the author dodges intentionally and annoyingly.

Why. The. Hell. Did. They. Attack. Humans?

Warning: this book has a pretty cliffhanging ending.

02) Character Portrayal:

Super amazing. Every character was shown to have emotions and back stories and their own reason to act reasonably or evilly. The last time I read such character development is in the book The Strange and Beautiful Sorrow of Ava Lavender. This book’s character development shows how war and apocalyptic events can turn humans either evil and dictating or humane and sacrificing.

03) The Romance:

Is also so realistic and touching and moving! No makeout sessions, no cliché tropes like hand holding and stuff. All incidents between Raven and Eighth/August are so beautiful and heartrending! I suppressed a cry when I mistook that Eighth/August’s love for Raven may be unrequited. There was no abuse either. Totally healthy beautiful relationship.

04) The Writing:

Simply stunning. No flowery or purple prose to express emotions. Simply simple words woven beautifully together that effortlessly tugs your heart and hurts you there.

I’d recommend all to give this book a try. It may be a SciFi young adult book but trust me, it falls more to literary section than mainstream fighting like in Divergent or The 5th Wave or Hunger Games. It is not. Rather there is less plot and more characters who become your friends as they take you on horror adventures of survival, love and tragedy.

I can’t wait for its sequel!!
Thank you, Riveted Lit, for allowing me to read it for free in 24hrs. Super grateful!

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My Review of An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

⭐⭐⭐

Disclaimer: This review contains spoiler. Read at your own discretion.

“Walking along a blade’s edge is only fun until the blade stopped being a metaphor.”

This book could’ve won me over, for I’m a staunch fan of ACOTAR series and this book is so much like the ACOTAR series, I lost count of how much the author may (or may not) have taken inspiration from Sarah J. Maas’ world and story.

Anyway, the book was fun and enjoyable to read, and I’ll list you all the ways it resembled to ACOTAR series and all the things I liked and not liked in this book.

First, the similarities between this book and ACOTAR series:

•Both the worlds were divided into two species of people: humans and fairies or fair folks.

•Both the protagonists painted

•Both the story worlds had courts named after the seasons like autumn court, spring court, summer court and winter court.

•Both the protagonists supported their families.

•Both the books had brooding moody heroes

•Both the books have a sickness plaguing the fairy realms.

•Both the book have the female protagonists saving the day in the end.

Anyway, as you’d see, it wasn’t a lot of similarities. Though as I read, they did bug me a bit.

Now for the things I liked and not liked about this book:

Things I liked:

01) The Cover!

Did you see it? It’s so beautiful!! I can gaze at it forever. And it’s no wonder so beautiful since the artist was none other Charlie Bowater who drew the following pics for Feyre and Rhysand and the Night court crew from ACOTAR series:

She’s like the dream illustrator for every fantasy book writer!

02) The Characters:

I loved both the protagonists. Isobel wasn’t as loveable as Feyre but she was loveable in her own accord. Though she wasn’t an archer like Feyre, she stood out on her own, and with her painting and her ready wits, saved every fair folks and humans alike.

And Rook, the male protagonist, although a brooding moody hero, was fun to read too. He did some awkward things that made him humanly.

And I adored Isobel’s twin sisters so much! Though the character of Gadfly made me wanna punch him. He’s so annoying and vain! Reminded me of Caesar, the host of Hunger Games with weird hair and fashion. 

03) The Descriptions:

Though it wasn’t spot on, the quote at the top and few more made me sit up and pay attention. Though there were some part (especially whenever the author was describing beauty of nature) she inclined toward using purple prose in her writing. And the description she gave of spring court felt like the tea party of Mad Hatter instead.

Now for the parts I didn’t like:

01) The Clichéd Romance:

That’s how I’d felt about the romance between Feyre and Tamlin and that’s how I felt about Isobel and Rook’s romance. It was so clichéd! It started out with Isobel infatuating all over Rook and then snapping out of it barely before tumbling down the rabbit hole of pining love. Anyway, there were plenty of clichéd moments between them like sudden outburst of making out, anguish declaration of love and then him shielding her and protecting her like a knight in shining armor saving a damsel in distress. Not a fan of it.

02) The No Plot Story:

I think this is meant to be a standalone and the pitfall of most standalone fantasy book is that they wrap up problems too quickly and hastily without stopping much to give readers a chance to catch up and then tying the loose ends too clumsily. It showed here and showed in another standalone fantasy book with similar theme, Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge. In fact, both stories were based on Beauty and the Beast and both had less story and more character development. It’s a fine thing to have character driven fantasy, but in fantasy, you need a meatier plot too. To me, I felt the main thing for this book was the romance between Isobel and Rook and how they can survive the world against them. No subplots, no other goals but this.

03) Slow Pace:

Not a lot but several places were slow and I often found myself stopping to browse through internet. Sorry, but it happened.

So overall, I’d only recommend this to fans of Beauty and the Beast and Cruel Beauty and of course, the ACOTAR series. I hoped to enjoy it but unfortunately that didn’t happen.

Thank you, Riveted Lit, for allowing anyone to read this book for free for 24hrs.

My Review on Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

⭐⭐⭐⭐

“People always love people more when they’re dead.”

This book, I should clarify, is not a novel, rather a verse novella, or prose poem book. The book is about 15yrs old Will, an African American teen, who takes it upon himself to find his older brother’s shooter and avenge his death. On his way to kill his brother’s murderer, he encounters ghosts from his past in his building’s elevator and what comes next will both shock and touch you.

I wasn’t acquainted with Jason Reynolds’ work before reading this, mostly because I read contemporary young adult less now than before. But this year I became a huge fan of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, and albeit no police brutality was shown here, this book deserves a lot of praises. 

The reason why I gave this book glittering 4 stars is because:

01) The structure of the poem:

According to Goodreads, this book is around 320 pages long in the hardcover. But I read it for free from a site called Riveted, where there was a “one day free for all to read” event going on. This review is written immediately after I read this book.

If you’re a big fan of The Hate U Give, then you will like this book. The entire poem didn’t feel like a poem, rather a novella with a heartrending and poignant tale of losing your loved ones and coping with it, as well the theme of revenge. Jason Reynolds touches upon the subject in a very expert way, and the way he presented the events is very refreshing.

02) The characters:

Altogether there were nine characters in this poem, but only seven got ample scene space. The protagonist is Will, who is quite determined to avenge his older brother’s murder. The way Jason Reynolds shows us Will’s coping with his brother’s demise is very unique and touching. I have, like Will, only one and therefore I could imagine his grief and pain.

Will’s mission to avenge his brother’s murder is very much understandable. His reaction to discovering his brother’s gun and holding it was very moving.

I Had Never Held A Gun

Never even 

touched one.


Heavier than

I expected,


like holding 

a newborn


except I

knew the


cry would 

be much


Much much

much louder.”

03) The Meeting of Will with the Ghost(s) of his past:
Inside the elevator, on his way to shooting his brother’s killer, Will meets with several people from his past who were killed brutally like his brother was. From childhood crush to deceased uncle, Will meets them all. His meeting with his father was the most touching to me:

“How do you small-talk your father

when “dad” is a language so foreign

that whenever you try to say it,

it feels like you got a third lip

and a second tongue?”

In fact, all the stories of those characters were different yet similar, but all equally touching and poignant and very realistic. The characters each were portrayed beautifully and they all felt like real life people.

04) The Ending:

It deserves a star for the excellent plot twist. You knew it was coming, you could guess it, and still it’d surprise you.

So I’d recommend this book to all fans of Angie Thomas and The Hate U Give. Excellent read. I’d also keep my eyes out for more works by Jason Reynolds from now on.

My Review on Forest of A Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

If there was any way to give this book more than five stars, I would. In fact it deserves a thousand stars like its title.

It’s a masterpiece, guys, I’m telling you, this book is 100% a masterpiece.

I have so much feeling after devouring this book in a day it was that good. After I finished it, all I can say to the author

I’ve been waiting for such a heartbreaking book for a long time and my masochistic desire had been sated. This book will touch your heart and soul if you are all for the fall of a fallen character.

Okay, now what about this book that made me gushing about it so much.

First, what the book is about.

It’s a young adult fantasy set in East Asian (presumably Chinese) setting about the origin of Snow White’s Evil Queen. This will be the author’s debut book.

Now the things that made me fall for this awesome book:

01) The Plot and concept:

If you’ve seen the origin story of Regina aka Snow White’s Evil Queen from Once Upon A Time, don’t expect the same story for this book. While Regina turned evil over the loss of the love of her life, the protagonist Xifeng (pronounced She-Fung) is nothing like that. Without giving you spoiler, I’d only say that she’s ambitious and goal-oriented and a lot darker than Regina was in her origin story. 

The whole plot was full to brim with symbolism and metaphor and amazing foreshadowing. A lot of plot twists punched me in the gut. This book may be the author’s debut book, but she knows her craft pretty well.

02) Characterization:

It’s rare to see a good innocent character turn evil in books these days but thanks to villain origin stories, they’re coming back. And I’m at an awe by the characterization of Xifeng. The way the author corrupted her heart and soul made me gasp aloud. You get so seeped into her goals and viewpoints that no matter how cruel and barbaric she becomes, you still want her to win. Her cruelty make you smirk, her heartache make your heart break. You never notice when she’s well past redemption. In fact, there was one truly gruesome deed by her that if it were done by a villain or any other characters, I’d have detested them. But when Xifeng did it, I rooted for her and cheered her on when she emerged successful.

Yeah I have a dark soul.

3) The setting:

It truly feels like another character of its own. The setting may not be the usual European or desert landscape of fantasy series but not once you feel like this setting is hazy and underdeveloped. It’s lush and sometimes the descriptions make you feel like you’ve entered the story itself.

04) The writing:

Like I said before, though this book was the author’s debut book, nothing about this book hinted that. Rather she felt like an experienced writer, crafting her third or fourth book after writing successful books like Marissa Meyer had with her Cinder series and then wrote Heartless. Julie C. Dao knows her craft and utilizes them well.

05) The heartbreak:

I’m not a crier. I rarely wanna cry over a book or a movie. But this book made me wanna bawl. Like there are several scenes the protagonist had with characters from her life in the beginning which made me press my lips to suppress my tears. Though written in third person point of view, the words were as if thoughts of the protagonist and I felt them so closely. 

Truly truly heartbreaking a story.

So I’ve warned you, read this book with your heart locked away somewhere.

I’d recommend this book to all fantasy readers, especially you are a sucker for epic fantasy and tragic ending. I started and finished this book with two days to go for my finals. It’s that addictive.

Julie C. Dao can color me her staunch fan from now on.

My Review on The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi

⭐⭐⭐⭐

(Disclaimer: Contains mild spoilers)

I was very excited to read this book, mostly because a) the author is of Bangladeshi origin, and b) the book is inspired by Jumanji, and we all know how awesome that was.

And my excitement was piqued after I read its first chapter excerpt. This book may be the middle grade, PG-12 version of Caraval but wayyyy better, trust me. Where Caraval lacked character depth and poignancy, this book seeps with it. Where Caraval suffered from little character development and relatability, this book is immersed with relatable, multidimensional characters.

Let’s see how I marked the stars:

One star for the strong, beautifully woven plot:

This book is undoubtedly Caraval meets Jumanji. Like in Caraval, the protagonist enters a magical yet dangerous world looking for their lost, scatterbrained, impatient and impulsive younger siblings. Like in Caraval, their sole mission in this world is to find their siblings safe and sound and return home. Only, for Farah Mirza, protagonist of this book, home truly is a haven and heaven for her, unlike it was for Scarlett.

And like Jumanji, this boardgame is dangerous and should’ve come with a warning. Like in Jumanji, this book has a character people considered crazy because in reality, they too once played this game and lost a friend in it, and that trauma ate away their whole life. While it was Sarah and Alan in Junanji, it’s Aunt Zohra and Vijay Bhai here.

Seriously this book has such strong and intricate plot structure. You’ll surely love it.

Relatable Characters:

Which older siblings among us didn’t have to give up lots of stuff for the sake of younger siblings’ tantrums? Which one of us had to leave friends behind for the sake of family moving away and then feel awkwardly distant from them when you rendezvoused with them? Which one of us never wished a siblings gone from their lives and then regret it for we love them too much?

It all happened with Farah. She’s only twelve but so much more mature than all her friends and most of the game’s characters. She’s steadfast, patient, smart and sometimes gives you the right reactions, even though they seem childish and self-centered to you at some point.

And her friends here? So distinctive. Usually sidekick friends are pushed to the back with cardboard personalities. But Essie and Alex were anything but. Essie is the outspoken, brash friend and muscle of the group, while Alex, the history nerd, is the brain, and Farah is the morality of the group. And the coolest thing is? She’s a hijabi girl! 

And the minor characters are important too. Ahmad, Farah’s impatient brother, has ADHD, that often exasperates Farah’s family, including Farah herself, but her kindness and affection for him is endearing. And Ahmad was cute too. And despite being alone most of the game, he kept himself alive and survived the game, no easy feat for a 7 year old with no adult to take care of you and you have ADHD.

Setting:

The setting was 80% the game, 20% Farah’s home in Manhattan, NYC. The descriptions Ms. Riazi gave to show us her setting were evocative, vivid and uniquely woven. While Jumanji had jungle setting, Gauntlet had an infusion of Middle Eastern Islamic architecture, and Bangladeshi cultural aspects such as a Sandesh shop, mention of samosa, betel leaves and chenna murki. And never in a moment the setting felt out of place or weird. Rather at some point, they’ll give you the chills.

The language:

I had to give an extra point for this. Like Sabaa Tahir did with Ember, Ms. Riazi added lots of Bengali words such as tiktiki, names of the sweets, masi, apu, Bhai, etc. It felt good to read about a fantasy book where you find your culture being appreciated. That’s how good it feels to read an own voices book.

One reason I couldn’t give this book 5 stars is because though it had an aweosme plot, sometimes it bogged down, especially during descriptions of the rules of many boardgames they played and the action scenes. There are many readers like me who never played any boardgames or a lot of them. For them, the newly introduced rules of real life games can be a bit mind boggling.

Overall, if you liked or read Caraval, I’d recommend this book to you. You’d love the beautiful friendship between Farah, Alex and Essie, the deep siblings relationship between Farah and Ahmad, and the strong bond of family and friends.

My Review on Death and Night (The Star Touched Queen #0.5) by Roshani Chokshi

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I enjoyed this novella much much more than I enjoyed the main novel. Like, I can’t believe this 100 pages novella was more entertaining than the lush novel promised to.
Let me tell you, this novella had zero conflicts, other than a curse Amar aka Death suffered from. Other than that, it was a sweet sweet funny love story and gave me lots of moments to LOL over.

Now, the reasons why I loved this novella more:

The Romance

That’s the primary reason. It was the primary reason I didn’t like the novel but this is the main reason I loved this novella. Unlike the main novel, this book didn’t have an almost insta-love story. The focus of this book was love and that’s all. And that’s okay. The slow burn romance between Amar (aka Death) and Maya (aka Night) was really endearing. Unlike a lot of other fantasy couples, they met but weren’t swooning and drooling over each other, rather their attempt to one-up the other with words was lovely. And the way Amar courted Maya was truly lovely. That is how every couple in fiction meet and fall in love: via normal first meet and then courting. 

The Supporting Characters

Yup, there were three extremely cool supporting characters. Two we’ve met in the main novel, one we unfortunately didn’t. 

The first one will be Gupta, Amar’s best friend, confidante and only court member. In the main novel, he was this timid, nervous, meek character who just did as Amar ordered him and only shone as a character in the last tiny bit of the climax. All the potentials he had as a character you can find here. He isn’t actually a meek, timid, nervous geek like the main novel portrayed him to be. Rather he’s this awkward, funny, hilarious, sarcastic best friend Amar had who’d challenge his every stubbornness, mock him whenever Amar was brooding, and support and guide him whenever Amar was lost. I loved how much as a character Gupta possessed and realize he could’ve saved the main novel if he was given the chance to shine like he did in this novella.

Second supporting character was Nritti, the villain from the main novel. Here she was the supporting, lovely, caring best friend, who advises Maya whenever she needed, mocked her and bantered with her like any best friend should. This may be another reason why the main novel failed, since Nritti too possessed great potentials to uplift the tone and spirit of the main novel. 

Third and most hilarious of the bunch is Uloopi, a snake queen who’s good friends with Maya and Nritti. She reminded me of Kamala, the hilarious pishacha horse from the first book. Uloopi was entirely nonexistent in the main novel, which is another minus point since she could’ve been such a plus point as a character. Her sarcastic yet realistic opinions and point of view was truly mesmerizing.

So there you have it, my gushing review of Death and Night, a companion novella of the Star Touched Queen series. If you’re a fan of the book, you really should read this novella cause it’s way better than the novella in my opinion.

Next up may be the sequel, A Crown of Wishes.

My Review on The Star Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

⭐⭐⭐

To say that I have mixed feeling about this book will be an understatement. I didn’t have high hopes for this book, simply because I read its Goodreads reviews and most were 3 stars like mine.
This book had all the potentials to capture and captivate readers like me, who love fantasy wrapped in deep, touching romance and written in lush, poetic, gorgeous words. In fact, those will be the plus points for this book and the fact that I loved and adored Maya. Everything else fell flat.

The reasons behind its three stars:

•It got a star for the concept:

This will be the first book I’ve read written in Indian fantasy setting seeping into Indian mythology. Plus its core mythology was of Hades and Persephone. The familiar Hindu mythology of Savitri and Yamraj twisted on its head, plus the mythology of Cupid and Psyche was also here. So overall, the concept of this book was mindblowingly genius. 

•It got a star for fabulous prose:

Like seriously, Roshani Chokshi knows how to write lush, gorgeous prose. Her metaphors were poetic and starry. All beautiful and magnificent. At many points it felt like I wasn’t reading a novel, rather a long poem with lush prose.

•It got a star for the character Maya:

I love this girl. Like Nyx from Cruel Beauty, she was treated like trash from day one of her life. Yet unlike Nyx, she wasn’t bitter,  angry, whining and vengeful. Rather she was sweet, considerate, kind and friendly. She even gave her husband a chance to prove himself, not punch him in the face or smash plates on his face like Nyx did. Maya also had humor, and all her humors blossomed whenever Kamala, the pishacha horse was near.

•It lost a star for the muddling back story:

I got lost in the back story for some time, and had to reread it. It had an interesting yet mind boggling back story like Cruel Beauty. I think that’s the problem with standalone epic fantasy books. They fail to sparse the details in too limited space.

•It lost a star from the forced romance:

No, there wasn’t any abuse like Nyx and Ignifex had in Cruel Beauty. Rather Amar was very kind and friendly compared to even Tamlin from ACOTAR. But the romance just wasn’t there! There were so many beautiful, touching, heartbreaking romantic lines by Amar. But I just couldn’t wrap my brain around the two of them together. The kissing scenes felt wooden and too brief to emote anything in me. Another couple who were based on Hades and Persephone were Liesl and her Goblin King from Wintersong, but whereas that couple sparked with chemistry and romance, I felt, unfortunately, nothing for Amar and Maya.

Bonus reason why I didn’t like this book much:

•I hated the portrayal of Nritti, the villain of the book. Her cause was more heartbreaking and touching than Amar and Maya’s love story. I felt like a great big injustice was done to Nritti and that isn’t something you should feel for the villain.

Anyway, that’s my verdict. I still feel sad over not liking the book as I thought I would. Fingers crossed, the next in line, A Crown of Wishes, which tells the story of Gauri, Maya’s little sister, will be better.