Genre: Mythology

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Book I Wish I Had When I Was in Middle School: Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi

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The Book I Wish I Had When I Was in Middle School: Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi
Aru Shah and the End of Time
Roshani Chokshi
Genre: Adventure, Middle-Grade, Mythology
Publication date: March 27th, 2018
by Rick Riordan Presents

Twelve-year-old Aru Shah has a tendency to stretch the truth in order to fit in at school. While her classmates are jetting off to family vacations in exotic locales, she'll be spending her autumn break at home, in the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture, waiting for her mom to return from her latest archeological trip. Is it any wonder that Aru makes up stories about being royalty, traveling to Paris, and having a chauffeur?

One day, three schoolmates show up at Aru's doorstep to catch her in a lie. They don't believe her claim that the museum's Lamp of Bharata is cursed, and they dare Aru to prove it. Just a quick light, Aru thinks. Then she can get herself out of this mess and never ever fib again.

But lighting the lamp has dire consequences. She unwittingly frees the Sleeper, an ancient demon whose duty it is to awaken the God of Destruction. Her classmates and beloved mother are frozen in time, and it's up to Aru to save them.

The only way to stop the demon is to find the reincarnations of the five legendary Pandava brothers, protagonists of the Hindu epic poem, the Mahabharata, and journey through the Kingdom of Death. But how is one girl in Spider-Man pajamas supposed to do all that?
-A copy was provided by Rick Riordan Presents for review-

I never read Rick Riordan’s books. The short story is that there was no real reason to why I didn’t pick the books up. The longer (and a little pointless) story is that when The Lightning Thief first came out, it had a completely different cover then what it has now. I was in the middle school and our librarian told us all about it. I grew older but it stayed in the corner of my mind, I was in eternal search of the book with the white cover and never realized until a year ago (seriously!!!) that that book was the same one written by Rick Riordan that was so beloved now. Anyway, long pointless story short, I am weird and specific about what I read.

So I missed Rick Riordan hype train  but that didn’t mean I never read any mythological adventures growing up and that I never craved them. Of course, as a kid, I never got adventures with Indian MCs at the forefront or a book that dwelled into Hindu mythology and allowed me to be a superhero too. 10 years later, (HAS IT REALLY BEEN THAT LONG SINCE 7th grade???) other kids around the world will get stories I craved, needed but never got.

I am not gonna lie, I am pretty emo writing this review and I was pretty emo while reading it. It’s like a painful nostalgia and I am ridiculously upset this book wasn’t published a decade ago when I needed it. I mean, I still really need Aru Shah today for a multitude of reasons I won’t get into but damn, 7th grade me’s existence would have felt so valid.

So this book? I read and adored The Star-Touched Queen when it debuted but… I think… this series might be the best of Chokshi. Aru Shah is not only an incredibly well written adventure, it’s fucking hilarious. It’s full of heart and a lot of meaningful easter-egg convos about how being diasporic shapes your relationship to your culture.

Aru Shah isn’t a liar, she is just imaginative. When her lies start unraveling, she brings schoolmates over the museum she lives in to prove a point. Seventh-grade girls (as anyone who has been in seventh-grade might agree) are pretty scary and if Aru is able to get out of her lies by rubbing a diya that her mom has specifically told her not to because it could bring about the end of the world, she does it. Not going to lie, I probably would have too.

Of course, it does trigger the end of the world. Kind of anyway. Everyone she knows is frozen, including her mom and she is suddenly thrust into a world she knows nothing about but her new companion, Mini does. Aru and Mini embark on an adventure as they embrace their identities as Pandavas–legendary heroes.

The setting and world building is so LUSH and I can tell how much care and detail went into crafting it. A lot of the mythological characters the book was drawing on were new to me but I still felt right at home and was generally so happy (and a little emo) as I was reading the book.

Okay so. The real question now is why not five stars, Rashika? Well. That’s because as much as I loved this book (and I DID LOVE IT) I think there were just moments where the pacing wasn’t what I needed it to be. The adventure felt a little long-winded at times but then it would pick right up again.

Overall though, this is a book that is a MUST READ for all fans of mythological adventures and one I am definitely gonna need to buy a finished copy of so I can re-read. I don’t think it’s possible for me to express how much I want to shove this book in everyone’s faces. I cannot wait to see what other adventure awaits these two pandavas (and more???) and I cannot wait to see what else RICK RIORDAN PRESENTS has in store for us!

4 Stars
4 Hot Espressos

Not really memorable: Freya by Matthew Laurence

Not really memorable: Freya by Matthew Laurence

Posted by on 03/29/2017 • 1 Comment

I feel pretty let down by Freya? The question mark is there because I am not even entirely sure how I feel, just that Freya wasn’t what I wanted it to be when I was looking for a book with norse myth in it. I love books that are set in the modern world and feature heavy doses of mythology and yet, while Freya-the book-was absolutely adorable at times, Freya as a character was kind of annoying. She was obnoxious and while it sometimes made sense since she was a goddess, it could also get really annoying.

I like the contrast the author attempts with her being badass and feminine at the same time, but I also feel like he wasn’t entirely successful with crafting Freya’s character as a blend of those characteristics. She…

Arthurian Myth Meets World War II: The Metropolitans by Carol Goodman

Arthurian Myth Meets World War II: The Metropolitans by Carol Goodman

Posted by on 03/24/2017 • 1 Comment

If you’ve been following along with discussions surrounding World War II books in the community, you will already know this but there aren’t many World War II books out there with Jewish main characters. Not only does The Metropolitans have a (German-American) Jewish main character, it also has Japanese-American, first nations & Irish-American main characters. The page space is split up b/w the four characters and while I cannot accurately speak for any of the rep since I am not from any of those groups, I did feel that it was done pretty well. (If you are from any of those groups and feel differently, I’d be eternally grateful if you choose to let me know so I may edit this review to reflect that!)

One of my favorite childhood books…

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ARC Review: Poison’s Kiss by Breeana Shields

Posted by on 12/02/2016 • 10 Comments

I am not entirely sure what I was expecting when I dove into Poison’s Kiss. I was hoping to like it because I was intrigued by the premise but even when I was excited to read it, a small part of me was worried that it would not do justice to my culture. As a story, Poison’s Kiss is fine. The romance is way too insta but it is engaging, there aren’t many plot holes and the characters are relatable. The world building is EXTREMELY lacking though. From the small things to the bigger, general things, the world building needs work and this book would have benefited from some Indian beta-readers who might have been able to help fine-tune some of those issues.

The rest of this review will…

Review: Reawakened by Colleen Houck

Review: Reawakened by Colleen Houck

Posted by on 07/17/2015 • 10 Comments

One word: WOW.

I seriously didn’t expect this to be so good. I thought I’d get an everyday run-of-the-mill mythology story featuring some unlucky ancient Egyptian schmuck, but what I got instead was an entertaining, refreshing, action-packed adventure that left me not only at the edge of my seat but also in tears and in stitches.

By the end of the book, I thought of one thing and one thing only: where’s the next book, I need an ancient Egyptian prince for a boyfriend, maybe if I get lucky I can enter some tomb and magically find a handsome mummy, this is what the mummy movies should have been (oops, I’m not committing some sort of heresy with that statement, am I?)

I’ve always been interested in Ancient Egypt – their culture, their values,…

Series Spotlight : Thrones & Bones Series by Lou Anders

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Posted by on 05/26/2015 • 2 Comments

Today I am spotlighting the Thrones & Bones series by Lou Anders. It is getting closer to the publish date for the second book in the series, Nightborn. This is a fantastic MG series that I think many people will enjoy. I have not yet read the second book yet, but I am almost done with the first one, Frostborn, and am really enjoying it.

Frostborn is the first in the series, and so far it is great! The characters are interesting, but more than that, I love the visual imagery that I get from it. I can imagine the lands and the Giants, and everything that is going on. The story is wonderful and I am excited to continue on the adventure and see where…

Review: Becoming Jinn by Lori Goldstein

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Posted by on 05/21/2015 • 7 Comments

This book was quite fun. I loved the whole Genie idea, but having them live in the real world among others. I thought that the twist on how wishes work and how their powers worked was really cool. This is not your typical Aladdin type tale. It’s got all sorts of secrets, teen romances, drama, and fun. I really liked getting to know the characters and the history of the Jinn. It wasn’t my favorite book ever, but it was definitely one that I enjoyed and am excited for the rest of the series.

Azra was a character that I liked getting to know. She has never embraced her destiny as the other Jinn do. In fact, she just wants to be normal, even though that will never happen. She…

Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Posted by on 01/10/2014 • 32 Comments

Cruel Beauty is really confusing, even kind of a mess at first, but eventually the story does paint a gorgeous, dangerous picture. Still, much of it is quite mind-boggling. I’ve been mulling over what I read for days.

Retellings are always difficult for me, especially that I wasn’t big in fairy tales as a child. I’m kind of discovering them inside retellings, actually, so they can be a hit or miss. Cruel Beauty falls in-between for me. I did love the Beauty and the Beast angle, all while bringing an extremely creative story to the table. Originality is not something Cruel Beauty is lacking. It involves a world that becomes simply mind-blowing. Distorting the perception of everything you thought you knew, kind of mind-blowing. It’s not easy to grasp,…