book review · books · shanti

Non Fiction mini-reviews

Hi Virtually Readers! I’ve been suuuuuper absent from the blogging world because literally everything else in my life has taken priority. I’ve still been reading though and am kinda sticking to a library ban. But that’s okay, I’m not gonna apologise too much. But here are some of the non-fiction books I’ve read recently, which is al ot, because I’ve hardly been reading YA which is weird, but here we are. I also will have some separate posts on Dr. Huxley’s Bequest, which will *hopefully* be my next blogging week at the end of October. It never rains but it pours, so this post is super long haha.


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blogging · books · shanti

8 reasons to read Lucy Parker

Hi Virtually Readers! I have been a really slack blogger lately, and I’m very sorry. But I’m on almost-holiday now and hopefully I will be able to write lots of posts and pull my life together. There are many many ideas in my head…I just need to write the posts! Anyway, today the post is Eight Reasons to Read Lucy Parker, in case you didn’t guess from the title….or the picture…haha. Lucy Parker is my new favourite (and only favourite so far) romance novelist. I’d heard vaguely of Lucy parker, who writes romantic contemporary fiction, but Ella (from Novelly Ella) was raving about ‘Act Like It’ and it was at the library and I was in a bit of a book slump and her books were just what I needed and I had Ella (and now Lara) to fangirl with which was great. Lucy is from New Zealand which earns her SO MANY bonus points.


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books · discussions · features · shanti · writing

Setting in Stone 3: Research Methods

Hello, Virtually Readers! Your, that is, my, favourite discussion feature is back again. Setting in Stone is a series where I explore many assumptions inherent in settings in books, spurred by enthusiasm for this post. You can read all the Setting in Stone posts by clicking the ‘setting in stone’ tag at the bottom of this one. Today, I’m discussing how setting is researched. This information is derived from reading/listening to various authors talking about their research process plus common sense. I’m going to outline the different ways to research setting, and their advantages and disadvantages as I see it. Continue reading “Setting in Stone 3: Research Methods”

book review

Unlikely Heroes in Room 13b

I felt like reviewing this book. It is totally awesome and the characters are complex and wonderful and I liked them a lot. You should go and read this book, okay? Its a short review, so just bear with me :).

This was a really great book. An appealing protagonist and other characters, a believable plotline and really good writing made this book fabulous and something which you should GO AND READ ASAP
Adam was a really well written character. He loved and lived and had an anxiety disorder sort of thing as well as OCD. I could really get into his head. I totally understood him. I am a fidgety person- nothing like OCD of course, but my finger tapping patterns do help calm me down. I knew absolutely nothing about OCD before reading this, even though my mother works in mental health. All of the other characters were also great. I loved Snooki and Thor, and of course there is Robin/Robyn. I loved how Adam always referred to her as Robyn, because he saw the real truth. The lies of the characters just made so much sense and were so heartbreaking. Also, the ‘new Robin’- Adam’s brother was great, and so were his family.
Believable plots aren’t always what I look for in a novel, but this one was believable, and that was good. The letters weren’t as important as they were made out to be but, still they were interesting and kept the plot moving. The plot was held together to a large extent by lies and secrets, but that was explained in context of the characters and their choices. The timespan it covered and the ending were PERFECT.
Of course, I loved the writing style. It really let me get inside Adam’s head, and I felt the emotions, the setting and the characters so strongly through the choice of words. Just once or twice it was a little repeptiive- Adam did this he thought that he felt that, but mostly it was a great expression of the characters. It was a similar i tone to Harry Potter but we were with Adam the whole time. I think it worked better than first person to express Adams sense of isolation and fear, and I liked the emotions it conveyed.
Fabulous expression of mental illness. Tick. Really great characters. Tick. Amazing writing. Tick.
I would totally read another book by this author, and you should totally read this book, if you want to understand OCD and see lovable characters and LAUGH YOUR GUTS OUT at people wanting to wash their hands in church.



I went the the Messiah last night. It was brilliant (especially the viola chorus parts) and during some of the more repetive bits, I decided what people should be called, based on their faces (Gilbert! Janice! Kevin! Jonathan!) Do you ever play that game?

So I have noticed that in books, people tend to think that they are ordinary.That they don’t have any special talents or skills. That they don’t stand out. That they couldn’t change anything.


For example, in Divergent, Tris thinks that she is ordinary. But the books spends large portions of time showing that she is special. And the blurb is all “1 girls choice will change everything *drumroll*”. Which is all related to the modern, Western way of thinking- a belief in the power of the individual. And some individuals have enormous power- but there aren’t that many of them.

But I have never read a book and believed it when a character says that they are ordinary. By the very act of being singled out for their story to be told, they are no longer ordinary. Some characters, such as Celaena Sardothien, know that they are not ordinary. But others, like Elise (from This Song Will Save Your Life) feel very ordinary. The definition of ordinary (from google)is : with no special or distinctive features; normal (adjective) or what is commonplace or standard (noun).

However, I don’t agree that normal and ordinary are comparable words. Everyone is ordinary: no one is normal. Normal is how you think everyday life should work as a cultural average (I sort of made that definition up), whereas ordinary is how your everyday life works. For instance, many people would think that my life of belonging to two cultures, living most of the time in India, reading copiously, tramping in the Himalayas during holidays, and occasionally crashing into inanimate objects as abnormal (because, lets face it, I am not a cultural average) , but for me it is utterly ordinary.

Now, most peoples lives don’t have plot. But by the very act of hearing someones stories (in a book or IRL) do you stop them from being ordinary? Does empathy with another person, understanding them, stop them from being ordinary and make them special? Would Christina’s story, or Hazel(from the Hunger Games), or Sophie (from the Infernal Devices) be equally special if we read about them? Now, some books, such as the Truth About Alice, or A Little Something Different, have multiple perspectives that tell a story, but its not about the characters with the perspectives, its about the person/people at the heart of the action. Which I like, but I actually wank to find out more about the people telling the society, even if they are “ordinary”.

So, in conclusion : if your story is being told, you are special. If your story could be told, you are special. If you have a story, you are special. And if you listen to someone else’ ordinary, you are both special. Everyones’ ordinary, which is not normal is special. Consider this as you read.

And a quote from Ruin and Rising :“They had an ordinary life, full of ordinary things-if love can ever be called that.”

Also : follow/friend my goodreads :).


Mockingjay, Part One: A Conversation

Mockingjay Part One came out. Shar and I watched it. We’re going to tell you how we felt.

(picture from :url)

Shanti : First off, I am going to say that hearing Shar whimper “Finnick” for two hours was horrible. I had to remind her what happens to him. (SPOILER REDACTED)

Shar: Thanks. It’s been ages since I read it! Why would I remember the details? And he’s just so hot and nice!

Shanti : (I have a tendency to spoil people, and Shar gets the worst of it) Shar, you have to say that he’s pretty sad in this movie.However, when he was talking in the roses…MY HEART JUST DIED. The guy is a great actor and i was so happy when…something happened at the end of the movie.

Shar:vYeah that was so cute. I was happy for him. And JLaw did a really good job of being conflicted. The love triangle was even more love triangle-y than the books, if that possible. She showed it really well. And you spoil so much. Like today. Good thing I was only half listening but I’ll try not to think about it. Echoes of Us just won’t be the same for me anymore!

Shanti : You totally deserved it Should I hit you over the head with Dreams of Gods and Monsters (600 + pages)? Yeah, Katniss did a great job portraying someone who had been through so much. Even though she didn’t mean to become the Mockingjay, she is a profoundly real and in-the-moment character. It was pretty funny when she was struggling to act for propaganda. I loved the way that the propaganda videos worked within the context of the story. Sadly, they WERE the story. At least some good side characters made up for it. (Cressida’s hair…. I LOVE IT)

Shar: Yes, it was really a ‘two hour advertisement for the next movie’ and clearly just a ploy to make more money. Harry Potter, Twilight, Divergent (maybe), the Hobbit, all the franchises do it. I guess you just have to accept it but like you said before, there wasn’t much of a substantial plot to make two movies.

Shanti: Yeah, that was where this movie fell apart. It was mostly setting up scenes. There were some very moving scenes, and violence (why i need people to come with me to the movies: cuddles and telling me when to open my eyes). The violence was not sanitised in any way, nor really legitimised. But a clear us and them developed in this movie. They are bad, and its okay if  they die But the suits of the stormtroopers PeaceKeepers, removed them of their humanity along with their faces, and, while that is in the book, the role of violence is hugely against my beliefs. (Reasons 1-99 of why I love Echoes of Us by Kat Zhang. You should read it)

Shar: Shut up about it already! Yeah, I hated the violence too. But it wasn’t a complete us and them. Snow totally treats Katniss so nicely,like she’s his niece or granddaughter or something, even as he bombs the resistance or forces Peeta to give out propaganda. It’s like he can’t decide. And yes, they are exactly like stormtroopers. Just make them look different or call them that already!

Shanti: Snow  does really like Katniss. I think that its because she was the first one he couldn’t control, and he has no idea what she will do next. I said this already, but I love the side characters in this movie. Effie (it took me a few minutes to work out who she was) is hilarious. The actor who plays Coin totally understands where she is coming from, and is really amazing. Buttercup is perfectly grumpy. Cressida is awesome, like one would expect with that haircut. And all of the camera crew are brilliant. Also, Beetee is very epic. And Prim. She is much less innocent in this movie, but she takes responsibility and is compassionate and kind. I love that about Willow Shields. She is an excellent actor. I love the scenes that this movie sets up actually. the plot just didn’t quite hold together. However, all actors (at least those given names) do add quality to the film. It just needs quantity. Plot quantity.

Shar: Yes. It’s interesting how they did that. But it did give them time to establish a lot of things that they didn’t with the first movie- which was silly, if you ask me. There were some really cool shots of the District 13- which was really done well. The set was so good. And District 12- just some kind of dystopian landscape, ages, skeletons. It was really cool. But after a while the amazing set became like Tolkien’s descriptive passages- just over the top and boring. I found myself identifying all the film techniques from english class after a while- zoom in, fade, close up, dialogue, tracking shot, pan, diagetic sound, oh look, something’s happening. I guess the characters, set, and things were filling in for the lack of plot, which made it a mostly enjoyable 2-hour advertisement. They emphasised some events more that i don’t remember being important in the book, but that was a long time ago.

Shanti:  Now who’s paragraphs are long? My conclusion: the actors are amazing. The film is telling a heart breaking story and does it well. However, the breaking part of heart break means that this movie is overly long and mostly establishes the next movie. It does not stand on its’ own. It would be good if I could see both (movies) at once.

Shar:Anyway, I liked it, it was okay and all that stuff. I gasped a lot and I just can’t decide if I love Gale, Finnick or Peeta more. Afterward someone asked us if we heard the crying in the theatre, and we hadn’t but then wondered if that was us, even though we weren’t crying, because it was very exciting.I hated the violence. I would give it 3 1/2 stars.