Eon: A Book Review

“You are wrong when you say there is no power in being a woman. When I think of my mother and the women in my tribe, and the hidden women in the harem, I know there are many types of power in this world…I found power in accepting the truth of who I am. It may not be a truth that others can accept, but I cannot live any other way. How would it be to live a lie every minute of your life? I don’t think I could do it.”

Book: Eon (Eon#1)

Author: Alison Goodman

Eon: Dragoneye Reborn (Eon, #1)

Blurb:

Also Known As: Two Pearls of Wisdom, Eon: Rise of the Dragoneye, and Eon (All the same book just published with different publishers)

Swordplay, dragon magic–and a hero with a desperate secret

Twelve-year-old Eon has been in training for years. His intensive study of Dragon Magic, based on East Asian astrology, involves two kinds of skills: sword-work and magical aptitude. He and his master hope that he will be chosen as a Dragoneye–an apprentice to one of the twelve energy dragons of good fortune.

But Eon has a dangerous secret. He is actually Eona, a sixteen-year-old girl who has been masquerading as a boy for the chance to become a Dragoneye. Females are forbidden to use Dragon Magic; if anyone discovers she has been hiding in plain sight, her death is assured.

When Eon’s secret threatens to come to light, she and her allies are plunged into grave danger and a deadly struggle for the Imperial throne. Eon must find the strength and inner power to battle those who want to take her magic…and her life.

My thoughts:

So you’ve been going through Grishaverse withdrawal? Trust me, we all have. Been looking for a good book that’s like it- but not plagiarism? Eon is a great series for you. Best way I can describe it is the love child of Mulan and Shadow and Bone -but on steroids.

This book touches upon (and hits them spot on) adult topics that the Disney movie would have never covered (like transgenders, eunuchs and rape). Eon borrows heavily from Japanese and Chinese cultures (with a good dash of fantasy thrown in)- giving special importance to ancestors and dragons. Much like Mulan, it’s highly feministic, questioning traditional gender roles in society as well as stereotypes. This book is totally a ‘hear me roar!’ kind of book, celebrating traditions, ethnicity and women!

At the same time, it is action-packed, action-jammed. You will be unable to put this book down because so much happens. Sword fights, intrigue, careful stealing, etc. Full of two-faced courtiers, the politics in this book will grab you by the throat and the breath-taking descriptions of the magic will hit you in the heart. You will probably lay down on the floor, gasping for breath- and you will love every second of it.

This book is absolutely flawless- from the color and vividness of the world Ms. Goodman built to the backstories and multiple facets of the characters she dreamt up. There are marvellous friendships that spring forward in this book, and the romance is a slow to build but scorching fire.

The villain will be totally despicable <spoiler> although wait and see til the next book </spoiler> and the characters will be cowardly and selfish at times but beautiful and honorable at the peak.

“Even a cornered rabbit will fight with teeth and claws.”

You will love these characters. You will weep for them.

I’m going to keep this short and sort of vague. This book is best enjoyed without spoilers. You will thank me for this later.

Just know that when you finally flip to the last page you will slam the book in disappointment and collapse on the floor. But you won’t stay there long- you’ll run to get the sequel to this book (Eona) so that you can begin the process of falling in love and breaking your heart all over again.

Overall Rating: 5/5

Quotables:

‘Are you frightened now?’
I nodded, shame flushing my skin.
‘Is it going to stop you?’
‘No.’
‘That is the courage of a warrior.”

“There was a saying that a man’s true character was revealed in defeat. I thought it was also revealed in victory.”

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Book Quote by Colin Firth

A quote that I saw, and just had to share.

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So true and relatable. If his Mr. Darcy performance didn’t impress you, maybe his eloquence and thoughts on books will.

In case the image isn’t visible to you, the quote is:

When I am really into a novel, I’m seeing the world differently during that time-not just for the hour or so in the day I get to read. I’m actually walking around in a bit of a haze, spellbound by the book and looking at everything through a different prism.

BTW, yes that is a Grammarly logo at the bottom left corner. Grammarly is an awesome spell-checker. Even the free version will catch mistakes that Word will not catch (not saying much, though- they hate it when I type in the word ‘colour’ ). I’m enamored because it’s a plug-in on Chrome. Swear I’m not being paid to advertise for them (or bribed or blackmailed, for that matter).

Dionysus, Can You Make Me?: A Poem

Oh, Wine Boy! Can you make me lose myself in dance?

Can you draw back your ivied harp and pull it’s strings,

Pull my limbs taut and loose in turn,

Send my hips rocking in wild, careless abandon,

Pluck at the strings without a pattern?

Oh! Wine Boy can you get me to imbibe?

Get me drunk on sweet, grape flavoured ambrosia,

A substitute for the God’s own nectar

Till my pupils go dilated and eyes heavy-lidded,

My breath come in saccharine, slow and languid,

And my pulse flutter like a flighty hummingbird?

Oh! Wine Boy! Can you seduce me with wicked touches?

Can you make me crave your burning touch,

Fleeting, animalistic fingers of passion,

Kisses divinely deep, liquor-induced sloppiness,

And heavy, unforgettable lust dripping

From each, quick, fun-seeking brush?

Oh, Wine Boy! Can you drive me to insanity?

Push me to the brink and then yank

Back till I’m whirling in visions of white coats,

Drowning in a pool of vomit and memories

Hazy, almost forgotten but not gone.

Oh, Wine Boy what marvellous, terrible deeds can you do?

Parallel: A Book Review

“At every moment, each person has the freedom to choose a different path, thereby changing the trajectory of his life. Nothing is set in stone.”

Book: Parallel
Author: Lauren Miller

Parallel

Blurb:

Abby Barnes had a plan. The Plan. She’d go to Northwestern, major in journalism, and land a job at a national newspaper, all before she turned twenty-two. But one tiny choice—taking a drama class her senior year of high school—changed all that. Now, on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, Abby is stuck on a Hollywood movie set, miles from where she wants to be, wishing she could rewind her life. The next morning, she’s in a dorm room at Yale, with no memory of how she got there. Overnight, it’s as if her past has been rewritten.

With the help of Caitlin, her science-savvy BFF, Abby discovers that this new reality is the result of a cosmic collision of parallel universes that has Abby living an alternate version of her life. And not only that: Abby’s life changes every time her parallel self makes a new choice. Meanwhile, her parallel is living out Abby’s senior year of high school and falling for someone Abby’s never even met.

As she struggles to navigate her ever-shifting existence, forced to live out the consequences of a path she didn’t choose, Abby must let go of the Plan and learn to focus on the present, without losing sight of who she is, the boy who might just be her soul mate, and the destiny that’s finally within reach.

My thoughts:

Alternate universes for the win. I adore this book. You want to know why? It’s because this books is good science fiction. The kind with alternate universes and coherent theories you have to read twice to make sure you understood it.

It’s excellently laid out with first, a scene from the ‘real’ world, and then alternating with present-day and memories from the ‘parallel’ world and finally ending with a scene from the ‘real’ world. Trust me, there’s no less confusing way to explain it; but it makes logical sense when you read it.

Now ugh! Love triangles, but I almost didn’t mind it in this book because the MC very literally felt she was two different people. There was a lot of drama when she found out that <spoiler> Josh and Micheal are brother’s </spoiler>, but it added to the plot.

Speaking of the plot, if it can be summarized in a sentence: Fate prevails and so does love.
Not only romantic love, but friendship and familial love remain constant in both universes. Nothing is unfixable. What happened in one world, may not have happened in another. And it takes less for you to undo your mistakes (when it comes to the people you love) than you’d expect.
Also, if it is meant to be- it will happen.

BTW, I’d like to state that in one context Parallel is a misnomer for the title. I’m sure Ms. Miller was referring to parallel universes when she titled this book. But I immediately thought of the math’s definition: two lines on the same plane which never intersect.
Except that’s the whole point (Oh! Look, an unplanned pun.) of the book: World’s collide and there are some things that would have happened anyways.

I love the friendship in this book. The girls know each other so well, are faultlessly loyal and…well, I just love them.
Only negatives in this book:

1.)I found myself annoyed that she had two perfect lives in hand. On one hand, she got to Yale and on the other, she became a movie star.In real life, I know people who might actually kill for one of the opportunities. And she gets both? Unrealistic.
So I removed one star.

2.) There was a little bit of slut-shaming in the beginning of the book with a friend’s girlfriend referred to as a ‘beach-blond barbie’, ‘arch-nemesis since kindergarten’ and indirectly implied to be a sl**. But by the end of the book, I could almost excuse it because the Ms. Miller very deliberately showed that it was all ‘high-school’ pettiness and immaturity that should be avoided, instead of emulated. Also, I think it was made clear that the MC was insulting on her best friend’s behalf (who had a crush, possibly loved the aforementioned crush).
Come on, you can relate to loyalty, can’t you?

3.) I didn’t cut any stars for this because some people really do believe in this and this is the whole point of the book: I’ve never believed in the idea of ‘Soulmates’.

This book will twist your mind in the most epic way. It will educate you on alternate universe theory. But most importantly, it’ll let you sigh in relief because Fate will get you where you need to go.

Overall Rating: 4/5

Quotables:

“That’s the funny thing about life. We’re rarely aware of the bullets we dodge. The just-misses. The almost-never-happeneds. We spend so much time worrying about how the future is going to play out and not nearly enough time admiring the precious perfection of the present.”

“A person rarely gets just one chance at anything. There are second chances everywhere, if you know where to look for them.”

Attending an American High-School: Things that Surprised Me

I spent the last six years at small Indian private schools and the 10 before that in an amalgam of nursery’s, preschool’s, montessori’s, elementary schools and daycare. None of them prepared me for the big, colorful world of an American high-school (or maybe it’s just mine).  Here are some things which really surprised me:

  1. There are so many people!

    Let me put things into perspective: My batch at my old school was numbered 115- a fairly respectable number. Apparently, my new school has 400. It’s a thing of wonder to see students flow between classes. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to learn the names of all the students in school. Hell, I doubt I’ll ever learn the name of all the class of 2017 students!

  2. Where is the Morning Assembly?

    In India, no school-day can begin without an examination of our uniform (“You there, button your shirt.”, “Tie your tie properly.”, “Why haven’t you polished your shoes?” and my favorite- “Shoulder length hair has to be plaited. Don’t let me see your hair in a ponytail at lunchtime!”), shouted commands of ‘stand-at-ease!’ and ‘uh-ten-shun!’, school song and morning prayer (if you don’t know the words, mouth along- don’t ruin the tune).
    Can I just say I prefer the more relaxed, laid-back American version?
    A couple of school-wide announcements… simple and short really is sweet.

  3. Clothes:

    Speaking of uniforms and clothes, either teens here are a lot more daring or school dress codes are a lot more relaxed! There were some events for which we were allowed to wear ‘colour-dresses’ (ordinary clothes). I remember on one such event a girl wore a crop top with another shirt underneath it so that she wouldn’t violate the dress code. But over here there is no end to the short shorts, crop tops, backless or spaghetti-straps. Sometimes all four are worn at once! This observation doesn’t come from a place of prudishness or lechery, but rather jealousy. Trust me, India was hot too. But if I ever wore any one of these things, my teachers would have cheerfully murdered me!

  4. Migratory Movement

    In terms of classes to take, high-schoolers in the US have a lot more leeway than their Indian counterpart. For example, my school offers over 8 different kinds of English classes for 11th graders (stuff like Escapist Literature, Film Literature and Philosophy through Literature). Some students go to a close-by community college to take advanced Maths classes or courses like Nanotechnology. I’m taking Biotechnology, Journalism and Photography- 3 classes I would have never gotten to take in India (If I had stayed, my classes this year would have been physics, chemistry, biology and maths because they go together in one stream). When there are so many different variables in what you can take, teacher’s don’t move from class-to-class – student’s do.
    It’s impossible for you to appreciate how much this blows my mind!

  5. Class is More Interesting:

    This may partially be because I’m allowed to choose most of my classes. It may be partially because there’s a whole lot more interaction in the class.
    In India, the teacher literally reads the text-book out, explains it paragraph by paragraph in slightly different words (she’ll give you an example if you’re lucky) and then dictates notes to you.
    This is the first week of school, so take this with a grain of salt: The teacher will give you a couple of questions to make sure you did the homework/reading, explain elaborately with the help of a powerpoint while you take notes, give you time to practise what you learned until the period is over.

  6. American High School’s are More Insular; It’s Harder to Meet People:

    Since we switch classes (and thus, classmates) every period, as a new student, it’s really hard to remember names- much less form long and lasting friendships.
    This isn’t a book where you’re assigned a guide who becomes your best-friend like in the book, The Fixer (I wasn’t even assigned a guide). You don’t walk into Biology (why are 11th graders doing Biology if it’s not an AP class?) and meet the love-of-your-life/a hundred-year-old vampire named Edward Cullen. You don’t form a deep, but instant friendship when you ask someone for help with your locker (I don’t think my school even has lockers!). High school and new students in books are a total cliche, not to mention untrue.
    Everybody is nice. There are no raging witches who head cheerleading squads but there are no super-friendly, slightly awkward people who’re waiting for me at a lunch table (again, who sits at lunch tables for lunch?).
    I don’t really know anybody. Nobody really knows me. I’m too shy and socially awkward to approach people and try to fix this (I wouldn’t even know what to say). <gasp> I have become a friendless loner! Next thing you know, I’ll be the weirdo who eats lunch alone. Oh! Wait…never mind.

High School is difficult to predict from books and movies. It’s a new experience. A little bit exhilarating, a little bit scary. Here’s hoping to a great two years ahead.

Be a Bird: A Poem

Ankles turned inward, the penguin shuffles to an unknown destination,

Awkward angles and even more awkward lines of his stride causing hesitation. 

Hunching over to protect it’s lanky frame from hot and cold gusting air

A menace ripping at self-esteem and confidence, destructive without a care.

Fuzzy yellow down melting into over-gelled, multicoloured locks

An identity crisis, layers of ruffled colours, confused and staring in shock.

Doing their best to stand up and out in a sea of similarly supreme plumage

Fighting their paranoid way out of only perceived traps and a pretend gilded cage

Like every other faux confident red-breasted, thick-chested rooster in the coop

So sure that other birds are doing their best to keep him out of the loop.

The cock self-consciously ruffles his wings instead of flexing and fluttering

Because the bird’s determined to be a peacock, he remains one thing

A flightless bird terrified of stretching arms wide and lifting up in flight

Remains grounded with his nest-mates to rowdily scuffle, peck and bite.

Jojo Moyes: Maybe She Writes for Young Adults Too.

Here’s to a bloody brilliant British author who, with her gaining popularity might actually be able to convince those Americans across the pond that their cousins aren’t really all crisp accents, 5 O’clock teas and prim and proper (admit it fellow star spangled banner-ers: you heard it as prop-uh in your head).
And how does she do that? With her mind-blowing honest-feeling, sweet  and believable books, of course!

I know I usually stick to YA books and Jojo Moyes is traditionally considered an adult romance writer, but I think that Jojo Moyes books are something that YA fans would appreciate.
First of all, her characters are believable and natural. Don’t resist sympathising and empathising with the characters- it’s futile. Maybe it’s poor, harassed cleaner and single-mother of two who’s fast losing track of her morals but it still so beautifully hopeful and loving towards her children or the computer geek (turned millionaire), trying hard not to disappoint his military father and whose awful luck with women end with a lawsuit against insider training in One Plus One. Or perhaps it’s the precocious 10  year old girl who desperately wants to go into the water where the marine animals she loves are and is keeping a terrible secret for her mother or the British executive who’s scoping out the land for a watersports hotel (also because he’s having doubts about marriage) but falls in love with the beach, a family of tough women who live there and the whales who migrate there in Silver Moon Bay. It could be the copywriter living in a glass house with a striking painting who’s still half in love with her dead husband or the great painter’s brave wife running a bar and hotel during German occupation during WW2 in the Girl You Left Behind. Whoever it is, you can’t walk away from these books without the characters touching your heart- no your soul. They are just that colourful and vibrant but worn and tired and relatable at the same times.
Second, it deals with moral conundrums that will leave you reeling. Is it okay to steal if you really need it, you know the person won’t miss it and you plan to pay it back? (No.) Can you sleep with a Nazi commander with a strange fascination with art to save your husband from a camp? (Yes, if that’s what you believe). At what point do you choose your personal convictions and moral beliefs over your job? (When you know that something that will haunt you forever if you don’t do what you believe in). Non-preachy and thought provoking- most YA novels wish they did the whole problem-solving thing this well.

Third, she does great side-by-side comparisons of the characters. It’s not a common plot device, but Jojo Moyes often tells two love stories in parallel: one historical and one contemporary, with a common thread linking the two stories together like family, a letter or a painting. It’s whimsical and beautiful, and the juxtaposition really highlights the differences. However, at the same time it shows that human character and things like love, friendship, family, loss and change remain the same- no matter the time period. And that may be the most brilliant thing of all!

Fourth, Jojo Moyes writes about ‘real’ men. Yes, the teen guys in YA books have chiseled jaws, six packs, brooding countenance and smouldering green eyes, but let’s be honest- how many guys have you seen like that? The guys in Jojo Moye’s books are less perfect and are more beautiful for it. With thinning hair, or slightly thicker abdomens than ideal- the love interests in her book could be anybody you know. They may not look perfect, and they’re not perfect- by any stretch of  the imagination. But the men (for these are men, not boys or guys) are principled, skilled, intelligent and patient with hearts of gold- people you’d want in a long-term relationship.

If I had to start you off with one Jojo Moyes book, I’d suggest the Girl You Left Behind. With half the story set in France during WW2 and the other half set in modern-day New York, it’s about love and loss and belief and art-appreciation. The book absolutely wrecked me, because at times it was so, so, sad. No spoilers, but there was a  HEA ending (It wouldn’t be chick-lit without it).  Read the prequel, Honeymoon in Paris. It showcases a different side to the characters, gives you some backstory that you’ll really appreciate after reading the Girl You Left Behind and will get you attached to the characters.
The Girl You Left Behind

Honeymoon in Paris

If you dislike WW2 stories, read Me Before You. It’s no less hard-hitting or tragic, dealing with life debilitating injuries, hopes, real falling in love, bitter rich men, family and suicides.  It’s one of her best-known books for a reason, you know.

Me Before You

So Rainbow Rowell, Elizabeth Wein and John Green fans looking to move towards books targeted towards older audiences, Jojo Moyes is the author for you. Chick-lit lovers and romance fans, Jojo Moyes is the one you’ve been looking for. Hell, if you’re above the age of 14 and female (I don’t mean to stereotype, but…I don’t know many guys who are into the chick-lit/romance scene).

Quotables:

 “All I can say is that you make me… you make me into someone I couldn’t even imagine. You make me happy, even when you’re awful. I would rather be with you – even the you that you seem to think is diminished – than with anyone else in the world.”
– Me Before You

“I was once told by someone wise that writing is perilous as you cannot always guarantee your words will be read in the spirit in which they were written.”
-The Last Letter From Your Lover

“Some mistakes… just have greater consequences than others. But you don’t have to let that night be the thing that defines you.”
-One Plus One