Book Review: Once Upon A [Broken] Time by Samreen Ahsan

Books in the series:

Book 1: Once Upon A [Stolen] Time

Book 2: Once Upon A [Fallen] Time

Book 3: Once Upon A [Broken] Time (Releasing March 31, 2021)

Book 4: Once Upon A [Hidden] Time (Upcoming)

Book 5: Once Upon A [Chosen] Time (Upcoming)

 

About the Book:

Once Upon A [Broken] Time (Stolen #3)

2015…
All her life, Myra Farrow has been obsessed with medieval castle-and the kings and princes who once inhabited them. When Steve Bernard, a wealthy videogame designer offers her to model for a princess character in his new game, Myra can’t resist his offer to enter the mysterious, colourless, and cursed Hue Castle. But unknown to Myra, her soul is bound to it by blood and sorcery. When she enters the castle’s doors, she awakens dark powers, time travelling through a cursed mirror, torturing her present, and rewriting her future, leaving Steve Bernard with millions of questions.

1415…
Edward Hue, the last of the Hue royal bloodline, has never stood in the sunshine, nor felt the rain, or held a living flower. Cursed from birth to live in darkness and bring death to all he touches, he is at the mercy of his cruel, tyrannical father King Stefan, who will not rest until he shatters Edward’s soul and makes his son into a diabolical copy of himself. Edward’s one hope is the mysterious woman, who walks into his life through a cursed mirror, out of his dreams, and introduces him: love.

Will Myra break Edward’s curse and bring him out of the darkness, or destroy him utterly? Will Steve ever be able to finish his game without Myra? Past and future collide in a tale of love, obsession, betrayal, and the hope for redemption.

This is book 3 of [STOLEN] SERIES

My Thoughts:

‘Love doesn’t need someone’s consent or approval. It is as inevitable as life and death…. But never in my wildest dreams had I imagined loving someone so deeply and immeasurably.’ – Myra

This book picks up where the previous one left off. Now that Myra has come back and decided to stay, she is forced to deal with both Prince Edward, the man she loves and the King, his father. Torn between her loyalty towards Edward and her need to be careful in front of the King, Myra is walking a very fine line towards trouble. The story follows her journey as she navigates this world, her scenes with Edward are heart-warming and filled with love.

The author shows us different perspectives, brining the various characters to life. We follow the story from Edward’s point of view as he struggles to hide his true feeling towards Myra from his father. He tries to protect her and also handle the fact that she has travelled through time to be with him. We also learn about steve, Myra’s fiance in 2015 and the one behind the company Excalibur that is coming out with the game: Once Upon A [Stolen] Time, purely based on Myra’s experiences and narration.

It was a pleasure to read about so many characters and their different perspectives which bring Hue castle to life, both in 1415 and 2015. This story is well-written and gripping. It is a must read for fans of this series and romance in general! Readers are in for a treat with this continuation of the [Stolen] series, filled with the right amount of intrigue and romance to keep them hooked until the end.

I truly enjoyed this book and as a fan of the series and Samreen Ahsan’s writing, I must admit that I am now eagerly looking forward to the next book! I do hope Myra breaks the curse and they find their happy ever after in this intriguing Beauty and the Beast retelling!

WWW WEDNESDAY – 17/02/2021

This is a fun weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.

All you need to do is answer the following three questions:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Also, do follow the host and other bloggers who participate!

It is wonderful to know what everyone is reading and recommendations are always welcome!

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What are you currently reading?

The Watchmaker of Dachau

What did you recently finish reading?

  We're Moving Where?!

Genre: Middle Grade Fiction, Adventure

What do you think you’ll read next?

The Far Away Girl       Enchantée

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Do stop by to share your thoughts or posts!

Book Review: We’re Moving Where?! by Glen Blackwell

About the Book:

We're Moving Where?!

When Harry’s mum and dad tell him that they will be moving to a cabin in the Canadian wilderness, his first thought is about leaving his friends behind. He then finds out that there will be NO INTERNET!!! Join Harry on the adventure of a lifetime and find out how he adapts when everything he is used to changes overnight…

 

Connect with the Author:

Twitter – @gblackwellbooks
Instagram – @gblackwellbooks

 

My Thoughts:

We’re Moving Where? follows Harry as he moves to Canada with his parents to live somewhere in the forest! Imagine a situation where there are no other people around, no internet, no school etc., just trees and animals all around. On top of this, you have to build your own Cabin to live in.

Wow! I thoroughly enjoyed this book which took us on an adventure with Harry. The author touches upon interesting and very pertinent topics of moving away, anxiety at not seeing ones friends, living in the wilderness and little access to technology. However, as the story progresses, the reader is introduced to the joys of exploring, camping and even learning how to do things by ourselves. There is so much joy in learning and this is shown to us in a lovely way through this book.

Even though the focus is on Middle Grade learners, this book can be read and enjoyed by all age groups. However, it is best when read together as a family.

Book Review: Firstborn Academy series by Isla Frost

I found out about this series through Kindle books suggestions. Intrigued by the concept, I picked them up to read and ended up finishing the entire series.

About the Books:

Book 1: Shadow Trials

Shadow Trials (Firstborn Academy #1)

HARRY POTTER MEETS THE HUNGER GAMES
Ever since magic stormed the world, the price for human survival is surrendering your firstborn to the monsters.

But this year it’s Nova’s turn, and the monsters better watch their backs.

I am the firstborn in my family. The first of three. And today I will pay the price for my siblings’ lives by surrendering control of my own. I will step through the runegate, and I will never see my family again.

What the others do with the firstborn is shrouded in mystery. All anyone knows is they are never heard from again.

I will step through the runegate willingly.

But I can keep secrets too. And I’ll do whatever it takes to bring the others to their knees…

Book 2: Shadow Witch

Firstborn Academy: Shadow Witch

Nova has the magic of the enemy.

No one knows whether it’s the power they’ve been waiting for–or a curse that will destroy the world.

And not everyone at the Firstborn Academy is willing to let Nova live long enough to find out…

Fans of Harry Potter, Shadowspell Academy, Harley Merlin, and The Hunger Games, welcome to a magical new world packed with adventure, intrigue, romance, and characters you’ll fall in love with. 

Book 3: Shadow Reaper

Firstborn Academy: Shadow Reaper

Don’t miss this epic conclusion to the internationally bestselling young adult fantasy series.

Life magic is abundant in Nova’s world.
But it might just take death magic to save it.

Nova has sworn she will use every ounce of her wildcard power to bring down the worlds-destroying enemy that has gone undefeated for one hundred and fifty years.

The only hiccup in this otherwise solid plan is that she has no idea how.

But as she and her friends head to the war front to face this impossible task, they find themselves caught between powerful political forces, an unpopular prophesy, new and daunting revelations about their enemy, and the unstoppable might of the Malus itself.

If victory is possible, how much will it cost?

My Thoughts:

I read this series quite some time back (at the beginning of 2020), but somehow I ended up missing out on reviewing the books. So I have decided to combine the posts and share one complete review post on the entire series.

Overall, I enjoyed the concept of the books, the idea that every firstborn is taken away at a certain age and never seen again. Noone knows what happens to them, but when we step onto the other side, we find out that they are sent to an academy for training. The story focuses on Nova, how she navigates the Academy, friendships, enemies and her brand of magic. Some parts of the story is cliché in the sense that Nova is different from others, and she becomes a target for the bad guys. Working with her friends, she tries to fight evil and help save her fellow students.

As the story progresses, the reader becomes invested in the characters, we get to know more about them. I also like how the world was built up, but some more description and depth to the characters would have helped to connect with them better. The focus on the training of the students and finally evolving into the politics behind everything and how to deal with it are well handled by the author.

I enjoy reading fantasy fiction and throw in some magic and adventure and it is a winner. In that sense, this series had all the right elements for a good story and in spite of some flaws, I did enjoy reading the books.

WWW WEDNESDAY – 10/02/2021

Hey guys!

I missed my WWW – Wednesday post due to travel. I decided to post it today anyway, even though it is a day late!

                  ——————————————————————————————————————

This is a fun weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.

All you need to do is answer the following three questions:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Also, do follow the host and other bloggers who participate!

It is wonderful to know what everyone is reading and recommendations are always welcome!

 ——————————————————————————————————————

What are you currently reading?

 Chaturanga (Baahubali: Before the Beginning Book 2)

What did you recently finish reading?

Oath Taker (Kingdom of Runes, #1)  Curse Breaker (Kingdom of Runes, #2)

 

What do you think you’ll read next?

Once again I have a lot of books on my TBR list that look very interesting. I am going to try to catch up on a few books that I missed in January and then focus on those which will be releasing soon in February and onwards!

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Do stop by to share your thoughts or posts!

Book Review: Oath Taker (Kingdom of Runes #1) by Audrey Grey

About the Book:

Oath Taker (Kingdom of Runes, #1)

Perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas and Emily R. King, this first book in a dark and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!

Light magic is forbidden.
Dark magic spells death.
Haven has both.


After the Prince of Penryth saved her from captivity, seventeen-year-old Haven Ashwood spends her days protecting the kind prince and her nights secretly fighting the monsters outside the castle walls.

When one of those monsters kidnaps Prince Bell, Haven must ally with Archeron Halfbane and his band of immortals to rescue her friend.

Her quest takes her deep into the domain of a warped and vicious queen where the rules are simple: break her curse or die.

Lost in a land of twisted magic and fabled creatures, Haven finds herself unprepared, not just for the feelings she develops for Archeron, but for the warring powers raging inside her.

Her rare and forbidden type of magic may be their only hope . . . but mixing light and dark comes with a steep price.

Haven’s soul.

Faced with impossible love, heartbreaking betrayals, and a queen intent on destroying the realm, only one thing remains certain.

Haven must shatter the curse or it will devour everything she loves.

Welcome to the Kingdom of Runes where immortals and humans clash, light and dark magic reign, and mythical creatures lurk in the shadows. If you like fierce heroines, enemies-to-lovers romance, wild plot twists, and endearing characters that stay with you long after you reach the end, you need to discover the book readers are calling dark fantasy at its best. Just make sure to clear out some space on your calendar first!

My Thoughts:

I came across this book as a suggestion and decided to give it a try. I do enjoy good fantasy fiction with magic and adventure! This first book in the series follows Haven as she sets out to save Prince Bell who has been kidnapped under the assumption that he can do magic.

Haven sets out on a journey reluctantly aligning herself with Archeron Halfbane as a means to an end. All this leads to unlikely alliances, bonds being forged and a fast-paced adventure as they set out to fulfil some quests and break a curse. I enjoyed various aspects of the story and the concept. However, the character development was lacking for some of the characters and this felt like a let down to the overall plot. Even Haven is a little confusing at times and it took me some time to get into the story. Some of the lands were well described and easy to imagine. This was the fun part of the book, trying to put the words into pictures and see how the story unfolds.

But, putting this aside, I enjoyed the overall adventure, the plot twists, the magic and the strength and togetherness that some of the characters show. This is definitely an entertaining read that once I got into, kept me hooked until the end.

Book Review: The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi

About the Book:

Vivid and compelling in its portrait of one woman’s struggle for fulfillment in a society pivoting between the traditional and the modern, The Henna Artist opens a door into a world that is at once lush and fascinating, stark and cruel.

Escaping from an abusive marriage, seventeen-year-old Lakshmi makes her way alone to the vibrant 1950s pink city of Jaipur. There she becomes the most highly requested henna artist—and confidante—to the wealthy women of the upper class. But trusted with the secrets of the wealthy, she can never reveal her own…

Known for her original designs and sage advice, Lakshmi must tread carefully to avoid the jealous gossips who could ruin her reputation and her livelihood. As she pursues her dream of an independent life, she is startled one day when she is confronted by her husband, who has tracked her down these many years later with a high-spirited young girl in tow—a sister Lakshmi never knew she had. Suddenly the caution that she has carefully cultivated as protection is threatened. Still she perseveres, applying her talents and lifting up those that surround her as she does.

My Thoughts:

The Henna Artist is an interesting story that follows the life of Lakshmi as she navigates high society as a henna artist. Known for her unique designs, she is well-known in Jaipur and sought out quite often. The story pulls the reader into a world of gossip, scheming and wealth. We learn a lot about India in the time just after independence, the sights, the scenes. The author does a wonderful job describing this and pulls the reader in with her words.

As the story progresses, the author reveals tidbits of information about Lakshmi’s past, but everything starts to change when her husband, whom she after two years of marriage, turns up at her door-step with her sister. The shock of finding out about having a sister is enough to turn Lakshmi’s life up-side down. As time progresses, she tries to adapt and take care of her sister, giving her everything she can and did not have growing up. Forced into dealing with a young teenager and one who doesn’t know much of the world, Lakshmi’s work and reputation are under scrutiny and at risk.

The author brings out the feelings of the characters and everyone around them as the story unfolds. However, it felt as though some of the issues were dealt with from a surface level where more details could have been given. Radha’s thoughts and the reason behind some of her actions are never truly explained. But, inspite of this, the story flows very well and it both amazing and shocking all at once. I love how the author portrayed the interactions of the various characters and brought to us a vivid picture of the kind of life different people live, across castes and class.

A truly well-written novel, this book is definitely worth a read!

Book Review: The Last Queen by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Hello Everyone! 

I would like to share some happy news before diving into my review of this wonderful book!

This is my 500th Post on the blog and a milestone for my blogging journey of 7.5 years!

I am very happy to have reached this milestone and to have all of you wonderful people (authors, publishers and bloggers alike) come along with me on this journey!

A huge thank you to everyone for the encouragement and support! 

Now, here goes…. My Thoughts on The Last Queen by one of my all time favourite authors Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni.

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About the Book:

‘I am Rani Jindan, Mother of the Khalsa. That is my identity. That is my fate.’

Daughter of the royal kennel keeper, the beautiful Jindan Kaur went on to become Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s youngest and last queen; his favourite. She became regent when her son Dalip, barely six years old, unexpectedly inherited the throne. Sharp-eyed, stubborn, passionate, and dedicated to protecting her son’s heritage, Jindan distrusted the British and fought hard to keep them from annexing Punjab. Defying tradition, she stepped out of the zenana, cast aside the veil and conducted state business in public. Addressing her Khalsa troops herself, she inspired her men in two wars against the ‘firangs’. Her power and influence were so formidable that the British, fearing an uprising, robbed the rebel queen of everything she had, including her son. She was imprisoned and exiled. But that did not crush her indomitable will.

An exquisite love story of a king and a commoner, a cautionary tale about loyalty and betrayal, and a powerful parable of the indestructible bond between mother and child, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s unforgettable novel brings alive one of the most fearless women of the nineteenth century, an inspiration for our times.

My Thoughts:

The Last Queen follows the life of Rani Jindan, the youngest wife of Maharaja Ranjit Singh as she goes from being a common to a Queen. Her story is exquisitely written in this book by author Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni with a keen attention to detail and historical fact. This is a poignant tale of love, loss, loyalty, bravery, betrayal, changing alliances and much more.

Jindan Kaur comes off a strong woman whose thirst for knowledge sets her apart. She seeks to learn and when she catches the Maharaja’s eye, she also partakes in many conversations about the kingdom and the many intricacies of ruling. Learning to navigate her way through the Zenana, Jindan becomes careful and shrewd, bowing down where necessary and standing up otherwise.

I truly enjoyed reading about her in this book which brings the Last Queen of the Sikh Empire to life. It is not a simple fantasy of a love story and a happy ending. There are so many layers to the characters and their lives that the reader is in for an emotional ride! The most important part of the story that resonates even after reading it, is the bond between mother and child. The way Jindan fights for the kingdom for her son and later fights just to see him is the strongest, most pure form of love!

As the last wife of the Maharaja, Jindan’s son doesn’t have any claim to the throne. However, circumstances change making him the king at a young age and Jindan the regent. As she navigates her way through the durbar and meetings, we see a side of her that is intriguing. Stepping above the norms of the community which dictates that women do not show their face or even take part in matters of the state, Jindan takes her role as regent seriously and thus makes quite a few enemies. With the British knocking at the door, there’s no clear way to determine whom to trust and whom not to.

This book is well-researched and very well-written. The author brings to us a story that is long forgotten, but one that should be known. It shows us what a woman can do and how much she is capable of dealing with, both physically and emotionally. The historical aspects of the story are handled well and thus we learn quite a lot from it, right from how the kings handled things, to the War of Independence and even get a glimpse into Sikhism and it’s many aspects. I choose not to talk much about the story as it is clear from the synopsis. I am more taken by the delivery and the final effect of this book!

Having been a fan of the author for some time now, this book was indeed a must read and it is totally worth it! This book will inspire you to read more, know more, learn more!

Book Review: Meet Me in Bombay by Jenny Ashcroft

About the Book:

Meet Me in Bombay

United by love. Separated by war. Will they find their way back to each other? Find out in Jenny Ashcroft’s historical romance Meet Me in Bombay

Meet Me in Bombay is a powerful, poignant and deeply emotional tale of love, mystery, loss and joy.” –Kate Furnivall, New York Times bestselling author

It’s New Year’s Eve in Bombay, 1913, and Madeline Bright, new to the sweltering heat of colonial India, is yearning for all she has left behind in England. Then, at the stroke of midnight, Maddy meets Luke Devereaux, and as the year changes so do both their lives.

Bold and charismatic, Luke opens her eyes to the wonders of Bombay, while Maddy’s beauty and vivacity captures his heart. Only her mother disapproves, preferring the devoted Guy Bowen as a match for her daughter.

But while Maddy and Luke are falling in love, the world is falling apart. World War I is on the horizon, and Luke will be given no choice but to fight. They will be continents apart, separated by danger and devastating loss, but bound by Luke’s promise that they will meet again in Bombay. His only wish is to return to her–but first he must remember who she is . . .

My Thoughts:

Meet Me in Bombay is a beautifully written story of love and loss in the time of WWI. Mostly set in Bombay, we are introduced to Maddy as she comes to visit her parents in Bombay after many years in England. We follow her as she discovers the sights and explores the city. The author has done a wonderful job in bringing the city to life and in describing it, making the reader yearn to visit.

This is a story poignant tale love so strong, it spans distance and time and still holds strong. The author describes the joys of falling in love, precious time spent and the heart break of the war and loss. The characters are well crafted and bring this story and the places to life. The war is described in detail and will bring tears to the eyes of the reader. Mixed with fiction and facts, this story is deeply emotional and will pull the reader in from the beginning. The friendships and relationships between the characters whether with friends, parents, partners is amazing and well portrayed. Even with secrets and scandal, nothing comes above love.

I thoroughly enjoyed this emotional rollercoaster and I highly recommend this book to everyone!

Book Review: The Wrath of the Hellfires (Vikramaditya Veergatha #4) by Shatrujeet Nath

About the Book:

PATIENCE IS A DRAWN BOW. RAGE, ITS RELENTLESS ARROW.

Shukracharya’s plan to break the unity of Vikramaditya’s Council has borne bitter fruit. Friends have become sworn enemies, and brother has turned against brother, setting Avanti on the path to self-destruction.

Even as Vikramaditya prepares to counter a Huna invasion, a rebellion brews within Ujjayini, while a devious conspiracy is hatched to humiliate him. With Indra’s spies swarming the palace and Shukracharya making a bold bid to take the Halahala, the king is dangerously close to the brink of defeat.

Alone and abandoned by those dear to him, fighting to protect his wife and his people, trying his best to keep his promise to Shiva, will the samrat rise one last time to defend his love, his city and his honour?

As the asura and deva forces muster in a final, desperate gamble to claim the Halahala, The Wrath of the Hellfires brings an explosive conclusion to Vikramaditya’s epic tale of action and adventure.

My Thoughts:

The Wrath of the Hellfires is a very fitting conclusion to the Vikramaditya Veergatha series! The story takes us where Book 3 left off with everyone going in their own path. The Devas and Asuras are each planning to wreck havoc and Vikramaditya is left to take a stand and defend not only his kingdom and people, but also to fulfil his oath to protect the dagger containing the Halahala!

This plot flows steadily, a little slower than the previous two books, but with enough speed as to keep the reader hooked from page one. Each and every sub plot which came up until book 3 is addressed and the story comes a full circle to reach the conclusion. In the end, Vikramaditya not only lives up to his oath, but also to his personality, being someone who leads by example, putting himself in the line of fire to protect everyone and everything that he loves.

With the Asuras, Devas, nagas, kinnaras and so on descending on Earth, all hell breaks loose and the Kingdom is under heavy attack. The author takes us on a wonderful journey throughout this series and I thoroughly enjoyed it! To avoid talking about the plot, I would like to stress a little on the character sketches! The author once again sticks to each character sketch and brings out the best and worst in the characters. There are twists and turns that add flavour and flourish to the story with some unexpected things that will surprise the reader! The focus is also on the war that is brimming everywhere and how our beloved characters fight in it. This is really wonderful to read with explanations that are vivid and help us to imagine very easily!

In conclusion, this book is worth the read as is the entire series! The Vikramaditya Veergatha proves to be a treasure trove of mystery keeping the reader guessing until the very end! The readers are in for a treat and eventually arrive at a conclusion that will satisfy everyone with strong characters fighting to save humanity against all odds!