Book Review: Aru Shah And The End Of Time by Roshani Chokshi And The Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani DasGupta

Book: Aru Shah And The End Of Time by Roshani Chokshi

Published March 2018 by Rick Riordan Presents|355 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Pandava Quartet #1

Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary/Mythology Re-Telling

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?

I really liked Aru Shah And The End Of Time!  I really liked seeing Aru and Mini stop the Sleeper and save time.

I liked Aru and Mini, and they seem like such an unlikely duo.  I thought they worked well together, and I’m curious to see if we’ll meet the other 3 Pandava sisters in the rest of the series, or if we’ll just see Aru and Mini.

One thing I thought was interesting was how surprised people were that the legendary Pandava brothers were, in fact, sisters.  It made for a unique twist, and people seemed to underestimate these two girls.  It makes me wish that I knew more about Hindu mythology because it would have been fun (and pretty cool) to know the real stories that Chokshi drew from.

Also, I love that Rick Riordan acknowledges that this was not a story he could have written, and that he believes Chokshi can.  I think it’s cool he’s giving other writers a voice and the chance to re-tell the mythology that they’re familiar with.

Back to the story, though.  I really liked seeing Aru and Mini work together to save the world.  They’re scared and not always ready for what’s in store, but they get it down, and it’s a pretty interesting adventure for the two of them.  I also loved their pigeon sidekick, who was pretty funny.

I loved how smart Mini and how she’s obsessed with anything and everything that can make you sick.  Aru, even though she just wanted to fit in with the popular kids and ends up starting this whole adventure because of it, is funny and curious and determined to make things right.  They support each other, even when they fight, and they really do have a great friendship.  It’s nice to see in a middle grade book, though I feel like we see more of it in middle grade than YA (at least, in my experience).

My Rating: 4 stars.  I didn’t love but I still really liked it.  I’d recommend it everyone, but especially Rick Riordan fans.

Book: The Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani DasGupta

Published February 2018 by Scholastic|351 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Kiranmala And The Kingdom Beyond #1

Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary/Re-Telling

MEET KIRANMALA: INTERDIMENSIONAL DEMON SLAYER
(Only she doesn’t know it yet.)

On the morning of her twelfth birthday, Kiranmala is just a regular sixth grader living in Parsippany, New Jersey… until her parents mysteriously vanish and a drooling rakkhosh demon slams through her kitchen, determined to eat her alive. Turns out there might be some truth to her parents’ fantastical stories-like how Kiranmala is a real Indian princess and how she comes from a secret place not of this world.

To complicate matters, two crush-worthy princes ring her doorbell, insisting they’ve come to rescue her. Suddenly, Kiran is swept into another dimension full of magic, winged horses, moving maps, and annoying, talking birds. There she must solve riddles and battle demons all while avoiding the Serpent King of the underworld and the Rakkhoshi Queen in order to find her parents and basically save New Jersey, her entire world, and everything beyond it…

I really liked The Serpent’s Secret!  It’s another mythology-inspired re-telling and this one is inspired by Indian mythology.

Kiran, on her 12th birthday, goes on a very unexpected adventure.  Spells are broken, and she learns that the stories her parents have told her about being a princess are not just stories.  They’re real, and she’s from a place that is not the world she knows.  I definitely felt like we were on this journey with Kiran as she learns what is real and what is not.

There are a lot of stories I was not familiar with before reading this book, and I love seeing stories I’m not familiar with because it makes me want to learn more.  I really felt like these were stories that DasGupta loved growing up, and I felt these were stories she knew really well and wanted to share with everyone else.

It was silly at times but also really fun, and I felt like we knew who Kiran was.  She didn’t feel older or younger than she really was, and though the book was longer than what I expected for a middle grade, I really liked Kiran as a character.  It felt like the book was the perfect length for the story DasGupta was telling, and it didn’t feel too long or too short.

It’s also funny, and there were quite a few times when I laughed or smiled.  Mostly when TunTuni was involved, but sometimes serious things need some not-so-serious-moments.

My Rating: 4 stars.  I really liked it and I loved how fun and funny the book was.  I can’t wait to read the next book!

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Book Review: The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

The Star-Touched Queen CoverBook: The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

Published April 2016 by St. Martin’s Griffin|352 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: The Star-Touched Queen #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

Blog Graphic-What It's About

Cursed with a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, sixteen-year-old Maya has only earned the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her world is upheaved when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. But when her wedding takes a fatal turn, Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Yet neither roles are what she expected. As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds friendship and warmth.

But Akaran has its own secrets – thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Beneath Akaran’s magic, Maya begins to suspect her life is in danger. When she ignores Amar’s plea for patience, her discoveries put more than new love at risk – it threatens the balance of all realms, human and Otherworldly.

Now, Maya must confront a secret that spans reincarnated lives and fight her way through the dangerous underbelly of the Otherworld if she wants to protect the people she loves.

THE STAR TOUCHED QUEEN is a lush, beautifully written and vividly imagined fantasy inspired by Indian mythology.

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

I liked The Star-Touched Queen!  As much as I wanted to love it, I didn’t, but I did love that it’s inspired by Indian mythology.  I feel like, with all of the mythology re-tellings that seem to be cropping up lately, that there’s less of a focus on Greek mythology, and more focus on other mythologies.  Like the Indian mythology we see in this book.

I have no knowledge whatsoever of Indian mythology, so I can’t say how much it matches up with Indian mythology. I did find this Q & A on goodreads helpful, since the author explains what myths she drew from/was inspired by. And it makes it easier to actually look up the myths on my own.

I did get a Hades/Persephone vibe from the book, which is odd, considering the book seems to draw on Indian mythology.  That came through very strongly for me- much more than the Indian mythology the book is inspired by, but maybe that’s my own lack of familiarity with Indian mythology.  And possibly because it seems like every culture has their own take on that story.

What I thought was most interesting about The Star-Touched Queen was how much I was reminded of things that were not India.  I mentioned the Hades/Persephone myth, and I felt like this book was an interesting mix of India and the Middle East.  Which isn’t that surprising, and some things did seem like they were Indian…but I also felt like there was something distinctly Middle Eastern about the book too.

Something about the mysterious castle and the locked doorways reminded me a lot of Cruel Beauty.  If you like Cruel Beauty, this might be a book worth checking out.  Cruel Beauty and A Star-Touched Queen are very different stories, though, and there was something very vivid about this story.  I could picture things really well, and Chokshi paints a very vivid picture of this world.

I think part of why I didn’t like the book as much as I thought I would is because there were times were I had no clue what was going on.  That’s partially my fault, because there were times where I wasn’t paying as much attention as I should have.  And there were times where I think my lack of familiarity with the mythology worked against me, because I felt like I was missing something important.  And when you add in the fact that I felt like things were sort of explained but not really, and the fact that it sort of meanders and is slow paced and takes a while to get to the point where things happen (which seemed to be several times).

Honestly, though, Maya didn’t stand out that much to me…and sadly, the same goes for the other characters.  I am having a hard time remembering the characters…man, I really should have paid more attention when I was reading it, because I have the feeling I would have liked it a lot more if I had.  Maybe I’ll do that…after reading up on Indian mythology, which also might help.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

3 stars.  I did like the world Chokshi created, and she paints a very vivid picture of this world. And even though I liked it, I didn’t love it, even though I wanted to!  It’s definitely worth checking out, though.