*I received a copy via the publisher and NetGalley in return for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.*
Years after The
Gauntlet, the Architect returns with a new partner, MasterMind, to take
revenge on the Mirza family. Now twelve-years-old, Ahmad Mirza must face their latest
creation, The Battle. Ahmad is forced
back by the Architect to a brand new Paheli. A slicker and more modern update
raises the stakes, and with New York frozen in time, Ahmad must beat the game again
before it beats him.
Like the first book, the story is structured around three
challenges that Ahmad and Winnie must complete to defeat MasterMind’s game.
Riazi again gives readers not much time as our characters must rush all over
the city of Paheli. Ahmad remembers little from his past adventure, so he’s
just as confused as Winnie is. What definitely carries on the from the debut is
the fast-paced mix of monsters and high-stakes battles for survival. I loved the
descriptions of the new Paheli, it’s an entirely new landscape with some familiarity
with Ahmad and returning readers. The world-building of the novel and game
design shines through. The old Paheli isn’t there anymore, but parts of it
still manage to linger with a more significant emphasis on the steampunk design
this time around. I enjoyed the level of detail given to the setting. I’m
obviously not the intended audience, but this book is good fun, full of action
A similar issue I had with The Gauntlet was the disparity in characterisation between the
lead, now Ahmad, and its secondary characters. The Battle introduces Ahmad’s classmate, Winnie, as his companion
into Paheli. Throughout the novel, you really get a feel for Ahmad and watch
him grown as a person, but Winnie is not as fully developed. She’s a smart and
confident girl but doesn’t really impact the story as much you’d expect and
felt like a paper character meant to just tag along with Ahmad.
Overall, I have no doubt that younger readers will enjoy the new Paheli landscape with high-rise landscapes, flying cars and familiar faces. A surprising reveal at the end makes me wonder where the future of Paheli could lead. I personally didn’t enjoy The Battle that much which is quite disappointing, especially when I adored the first one. I absolutely loved The Gauntlet, but its sequel doesn’t match up with the magic of its predecessor. It is a solid and fascinating return but to those who loved the world created before may be disappointed by its execution.
*I receive e-copies of
these books via NetGalley in return for an honest review*
the mermaid’s voice returns in this one – amanda lovelace
Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)
powerful and empowering conclusion to the Women Are Some Kind of Magic trilogy.
I wasn’t too sure about this reading especially since I didn’t particularly
enjoy the second book that much, but I knew it would bug me to not complete a
series that is short like this one. The one thing I liked the most about Lovelace’s
work is how she uses the concepts of fairy tales, subverting traditionally
submissive stories about women and reinventing them in her own way. I guess,
and it isn’t Lovelace’s fault, the style really doesn’t do much for me anymore.
I can’t really fault her on this structure being so overused in popular poetry
Rilakkuma: By Your Side – Aki Kondo
Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)
Cute and simple. By Your Side is a series of different everyday scenes of
Rilakkuma and his friends. It’s pretty sweet, a simple quote book filled with
adorable art of the well-loved cartoon characters. It’s a book I would keep at
my shelf and look through if I’m feeling down.
Don’t expect a lot from this book, it’s mainly pictures with some inspiring quotes alongside it. But it’s delightful and optimistic. I believe this was released in anticipation of Rilakkuma’s upcoming Netflix series, which I did not know what happening. And now I’m pretty excited to watch it.
Barely adjusting to her new home in the Upper East Side, Bangladeshi-American kid Farah finds herself sucked into the game of The Gauntlet of Blood and Sand after her younger brother, Ahmad, vanishes into the game. Alongside her friends, she must complete three challenges and failure to win will trap them- and Ahmad- forever.
I’ve been anticipating this book since Salaam Reads was first announced. And I can definitely confirm that this book was so worth the wait.
I really, really enjoyed the world building and game design. The way the story is mapped out is really brilliant. I hope to, maybe, see a graphic novel of this series somewhere down the line because of the Middle Eastern and South Asian influences Raizi had made a very dazzling and creative world. The way the world moves in pieces like a game was so pretty to imagine.
Farah is pretty headstrong and a loveable lead who is very aware of her own weaknesses. She’s constantly struggled with her want to ditch the challenge in search of her brother versus her need to navigate her and her friends out of the game. And she works alongside her friends to complete each challenge. Their friendship is very cute and they work well together, recognising each other’s strengths and weaknesses. They’re all very intuitive and logical in situations that would have me in tears. (ahah)
I think the only downside was the lack of characterisation for Essie and Alex. Farah’s character comes out really strongly and the other two do come across as being more archetypes rather than their own persons. Also, its cultural aspects were so adorable and great to read. While the world seems almost alien to her friends, Essie and Alex, Farah finds familiarity in it and so did I. I wished this book existed when I was a kid.
Overall, it’s a solid fantasy debut in an exciting game world. At its heart, a story of family and friendship, making it a great for any young readers.
~ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review~
Claudia loves art but never truly understand what’s really under the surface until Pim appears in the painting she sees. She learns that Pim has been trapped in the world behind the canvas for centuries by a witch, and Claudia is now his only way to break the spells that keep him bound in the world of art. Using ancient magic, Claudia enters the world but finds that nothing is truly as it seems on paper.
Behind the Canvas was an exciting read, a really cute story that was filled with adventure. I really liked the anecdotes that appear at the end of each chapter after an artist was mentioned, it was a cool addition to the story though I felt some notes do drag on a bit and take up a bit of space but you do learn some interesting things if you don’t know much about art, like me. They did at first appear too academic to grab my attention but they’re actually really witty and do give better contextual knowledge. What I loved the most was the concept and how it wasn’t set in a random fantasy place but actually links with the real world and the way it works shows clear and deep thought in its creation. (Let’s just hope no one tries to place their hand with yellow gloop on the actual Mona Lisa…)
However, I felt like the relationship between Claudia and Pim was severely missed out. It skims part where they get to know each other and I felt it should’ve developed that section a bit more to see how their friendship grew but, nonetheless, the way they really cared for each other did come through. I just felt like it was missing something in the beginning.
Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Publication: February 23rd 2016 by Feiwel & Friends
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