Where Beauty is Opulence and Death: a Review of The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

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Genre:
Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication date: February 6th, 2018
Format: ARC Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 434

Series: The Belles #1

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Blurb:

Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orléans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orléans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.

But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite—the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orléans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land. But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie—that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision.

With the future of Orléans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide—save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles—or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever.

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“May you always find beauty….”

Just like everyone else, I was stoked when The Belles came out. A brown girl on the cover, looking gorgeous and slayin’ it, no doubt is bound to be an epic fantasy read no?

Well, I have my reasons on why I didn’t exactly enjoy The Belles as much as everyone else did.

First off, the plot was excruciatingly slow. Is there some new trend in YA Fantasy where the plot takes 200 pages to build? Honestly, I haven’t got a clue how did I survive 200 pages where nothing happens and Camille, our protagonist wanders from client to client doing beauty work.

But despite a very slow start, I must admit the world building and writing in The Belles was very good. We’re introduced to a vibrant world of colors and jewels and extravagant customs that make the Orleansians such unique human beings. Being born gray and colourless, people of Orleans need to pay to get beauty work done on them in order to stay beautiful. Now, this is the most disturbing part of the book in my opinion. Constantly having to get beauty work done on you and trying to keep up with the latest trend….where have we heard that before? The Belles questions very well how media has played with the beauty image card for too long, leading to people not satisfied with their looks. This definitely made The Belles such an interesting read to begin with.

Asides from the world building and satisfactory writing, I don’t see what the hype surrounding The Belles is about. The protagonist is one of the least memorable aspects of this book, having so little to do with the scenes and not actually doing much asides from trying to figure out who she should please in the palace. It got a bit irritating when she did that one thing to someone, as if she’s weak when she was portrayed to be brave and a bit reckless from the beginning.

We were introduced to so many characters who played a crucial part in the ending of The Belles. Granted, these characters had very questionable traits in the sense of not being solid enough to give off memorable impressions. For example, I would have loved to know more of Belle history and of Camille’s other 5 sisters, but unfortunately the story revolved entirely on her adapting as the favourite Belle at the palace. Even her love interest fell bland for me, with no substance leaving me thinking “Good God, what does she see in him?”. But, if you’ll be reading The Belles for one reason, let that reason be for the princess. Her cruelty and savage personality is so delicious, she was the only thing I was most interested to read about in the end.

Overall, I wasn’t very impressed with The Belles but can see the appeal and why people are obsessed with the world CLAYTON has built in Orleans. I still think this is worth a try. Let me know if you’ve read it! Screen Shot 2017-05-13 at 3.46.50 PM

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Thank you Pansing Books for providing a copy in exchange of an honest review.

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A Dark Mysterious Fairy Tale Unravels in the City: a Review of The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

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Genre:
Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication date: February 8th, 2018
Format: ARC Paperback
Source: Times Reads
Page Count: 359

Series: The Hazel Wood #1

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Blurb:

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the strange bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate – the Hazel Wood – Alice learns how bad her luck can really get. Her mother is stolen away – by a figure who claims to come from the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: STAY AWAY FROM THE HAZEL WOOD.

To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began

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“Look until the leaves turn red, sew the worlds up with thread. If your journey’s left undone, fear the rising of the sun.” 

Well where do I begin. I read the raved reviews on Goodreads and the high ratings given. But within 200 pages in, I still couldn’t get into The Hazel Wood. And here are some of my reasons why.

The main protagonist of The Hazel Wood is Alice who lives on the run with her mother, Ella. She knows very little of her recluse author-grandmother, Althea other than the fact she wrote Tales of the Hinterland, a fairy tale book with dark, twisted tales inside. Little do we know, Hinterland proves to be very real and Alice gets sucked into its weird parallel world in order to save Ella, who went missing.

The entire plot fell very flat to me. All 357 pages of it felt excruciatingly painful to finish because it seems MELISSA ALBERT randomly puts Alice in various scenarios with very little finishing as an excuse for a plot. The writing and cast of characters were not as great as I expected a 4-starred-on-Goodreads book to be. Every chapter felt like an awkward transition for Alice, who throughout the entire book, floated around not actually doing anything. And it frustrates me because at a point in the book, Alice claimed to be smart and brave for she is Althea’s granddaughter. But her actions were far from brave or bold as there was always someone to save her ass from a messy situation. It became clear towards the end of The Hazel Wood that Alice can’t seem to function well on her own. Sparse scenes where she supposedly ‘thinks on her feet’ were too weak to make an impact in The Hazel Wood.

As if it wasn’t bad enough, The Hazel Wood just had to have the most annoying protagonist ever. I’m sorry, but Alice did not appeal to me in any way. Sure she came off as this angry, reckless teenager in the beginning, but she truly was without her own rational sense of mind. Alice was whiny, temperamental, and treated her friends who tried to help her terribly. Not to mention, it was a bit weak of her to start regretting her attitude when one of them had an accident. Also, her story did not develop fully in The Hazel Wood because it had such a shaky start. I wish Melissa Albert had given much thought to the type of protagonist The Hazel Wood should have. I truly despise books with female characters who cannot defend themselves nor have their own vision of what needs to be done in the story.

And it amazes me how she survived throughout the entire ordeal– oh wait, that’s because she had a bunch of other characters keeping her from actually dying. Silly me. Must be nice to have someone have your back the whole time without you having to think at all.

Overall, this was one of the weakest first novel in a YA Fantasy series I’ve ever read. I definitely will not be continuing the series. I still have no idea how Sony Pictures has bought the rights to making The Hazel Wood into a movie. You can give The Hazel Wood a try, and I hope you enjoy it more than I did!

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Thank you Times Reads for providing an ARC in exchange of an honest review!

Russian Folklores Come to Life in a Blistering Winter: a Review of The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

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Genre:
Fantasy
Publisher: Del Ray
Publication date: January 10th, 2017
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing Malaysia
Page Count: 410

Series: Winternight Trilogy #1

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Blurb:

‘Frost-demons have no interest in mortal girls wed to mortal men. In the stories, they only come for the wild maiden.’

In a village at the edge of the wilderness of northern Russia, where the winds blow cold and the snow falls many months of the year, an elderly servant tells stories of sorcery, folklore and the Winter King to the children of the family, tales of old magic frowned upon by the church.

But for the young, wild Vasya these are far more than just stories. She alone can see the house spirits that guard her home, and sense the growing forces of dark magic in the woods…

Atmospheric and enchanting, with an engrossing adventure at its core, The Bear and the Nightingale is perfect for readers of Naomi Novik’s Uprooted, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, and Neil Gaiman.

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A beautiful fantasy narration based on medieval Russian folklore which will have you sucked in till the end.

The Bear and the Nightingale has become one of my favourite debut books of 2017. Katherine Arden is such an amazing storyteller, bringing and merging so many Russian folklores and giving a wonderful breathe of fresh air into it.

Off the bat, the world-building was one of my favourite things of The Bear and the Nightingale. As with all series tend to go, the first book is always a bit slow and Arden takes her time to build the world of medieval Rus’ and the village where we see our protagonist, Vasya, grew up. The world building was very detailed in my opinion, with various references to many folklores scattered throughout the book. You’ll feel a little bit out of place with the strange languages and terms she uses, but eventually you’ll get used as the book progresses.

From house spirits to lake wraiths, the extensive cast of characters in The Bear and the Nightingale is guaranteed to have you entranced for the entirety of the book. I got easily sucked in when the story introduced the lake wraith and the upyry (vampires), and things jumped to a whole new level when we start seeing Vasya’s connection to the spirits and guardians of the forest.

At times the book feels like a horror/paranormal book with the dark and medieval elements, and other times The Bear and the Nightingale feels like an amazing fantasy book with a kick-ass female main character. I can’t describe how much I love Vasya. Her fierceness and determination to believe in what she has faith in, even if it’s the opposite of what her people and priest tell her, is truly something we need to see more of in books nowadays. Vasya’s boldness and modern views are what give The Bear and the Nightingale its special quality. I cannot wait to see how she further develops her strength as the witch in the upcoming sequels.

“Am I a child? Always someone else must decide for me. But this I will decide for myself.” 

The only thing that felt a tiny bit confusing was the direction of the book. While the writing for worldbuilding was great, there lacked a clear sense of direction for Vasya. We meet several characters that seemed like the typical villain in the book, but instead they’re thrown into the grey area of humanity dealing with their own flaws. It wasn’t pretty clear until 250 pages into the book, what Vasya’s mission and the true villain appear to be.

Overall, it was an amazing read with wonderful fantasy and folklore retelling elements to keep you entertained. Russian folklores have always been an enigma for me, and for most of you guys too I assume, so The Bear and The Nightingale is a great book to start with. I highly recommend this book if you want something unique with no typical relationship/character tropes.

Did I mention how awesome Vasya is?

“Married! Not to retreat, but to be the mistress of a lord’s domain; not to be safe in a convent, but to live as some lord’s breeding sow.” 

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Thank you Pansing Malaysia for proving a copy in exchange for an honest review!

 

Dragon-Slayers and An Epic Rebellion: a Review of The Last Namsara by Kriten Ciccarelli

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Genre:
Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication date: October 3rd, 2017
Format: ARC Paperback
Source: Pansing Malaysia
Page Count: 416

Series: Iskari #1

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Blurb:

In the beginning, there was the Namsara: the child of sky and spirit, who carried love and laughter wherever he went. But where there is light, there must be darkness–and so there was also the Iskari. The child of blood and moonlight. The destroyer. The death-bringer.

These are the legends that Asha, daughter of the king of Firgaard, has grown up learning in hushed whispers, drawn to the forbidden figures of the past. But it isn’t until she becomes the fiercest, most feared dragon slayer in the land that she takes on the role of the next Iskari–a lonely destiny that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl.


Asha conquers each dragon and brings its head to the king, but no kill can free her from the shackles that await at home: her betrothal to the cruel commandant, a man who holds the truth about her nature in his palm. When she’s offered the chance to gain her freedom in exchange for the life of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard, she finds that there may be more truth to the ancient stories than she ever could have expected. With the help of a secret friend–a slave boy from her betrothed’s household–Asha must shed the layers of her Iskari bondage and open her heart to love, light, and a truth that has been kept from her.

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First off, let me begin by saying how much I truly enjoyed The Last Namsara. I’ve heard a lot of great things about this debut novel by Ciccarelli and reading this did not disappoint. There are few debut novels that can capture my attention so quickly like The Last Namsara.

“The old heroes were called Namsara after a beloved god, he said. So she would be called Iskari, after a deadly one.”

The Last Namsara has all the right amounts of female bad-assery, characters of both royalty and slavery descent, action scenes full of suspense and lots and lots of dragons. Oh the beautiful dragons. Those amazing creatures whom Asha, our main protagonists, kills as her job.

I loved how this book progressed in terms of its characters and the plot. Never did I feel bored while reading this and the impeccable writing made it all the more enjoyable.

One of the things I truly enjoyed in The Last Namsara is its wide range of characters bringing so many depths to the book. You have Asha, the dragon slayer, also known as the Iskari (Death-Bringer). Her brother, Dax, skral-blooded cousin, Safire, ruthless misogynistic bethroted promised to her since the age of 8, Jarek, and her father, the Dragon King. I found each character easily imagined and it was very easy to love Safire, hate Jarek and fall in love with Dax. The only thing I wished differently for the characters was for us to see more of these supporting characters. While I understand the first book tends to focus more of the protagonist, I think readers would have enjoyed reading more about Safire and Dax.

We definitely see more of Torwin, Jarek’s slave who eventually befriends Asha and shows her a different side to the slaves which leads to Asha having the biggest character development throughout the book. And I’m very happy the author did such a good job on it!

As for Asha, the plot of The Last Namsara played really nicely into allowing us to see her as this strong yet scared girl who’s haunted by a past mistake. With her fierce determination to redeem herself in the eyes of those who fear her, she takes on the task to hunt down The First Dragon, and consequently destroying all the old stories and the tragedies they bring.

As the story progresses, we see that what Asha previously believed and held strongly to may not be the entire truth. And how she opens her heart to the truth and learn to love was a brilliant journey to undertake. From an unemotional, fiercely loyal, strong female, we see her develop more loving emotions towards her brother, cousin and the truth of her past and the people around her.

“Iskari let others define her because she thought she didn’t have a choice. Because she thought she was alone and unloved.”

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I like how a lot of difficult and troubling issues were tackled in the book. From slavery to misogynist characters, the ending really addressed all of these that gave what the story needed: a strong voice to fight wrongs and let rights prevail. I was initially troubled by how disturbing the people of Firgaard is and Asha’s beliefs in the superiority of The Dragon King and people of Firgaard above everyone else. But how the story develops and what she learns about the real world allowed this book to have a life of its own.

The twists and turns at every corner is this book was mindblowing! Every few pages, I found myself surprised at the plot development, and how amazing the characters turn out to be. It wasn’t written in a rushed way where everything was crammed within 300 pages, but rather the plot had subtle hits which all adds up to the epic climax at the end. I applaud the author for writing, what seems to me, is a great plot.

Not to mention the dragons written in The Last Namsara were just so regal and majestic! Dragons come to life in The Last Namsara and we see them in all their glory despite Asha’s mission to slay them all. We see a side of them rarely seen in fantasy books and I love how well the author has made its readers connect with the dragons after Asha starts hunting Kozu, The First Dragon. For mythical creatures, it was amazing to feel how real the dragons were in the book.

Overall, The Last Namsara had all the right elements to make a first debut novel in a series shine. Great characters, great plots and amazing writing that grips you right from the start, this is a book you don’t want to miss out. .

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Thank you Pansing Malaysia for proving an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

 

The Heir of Sounis Returns: a Review of A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner

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Genre:
Fantasy
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication date: February 28th, 2017 (originally published in March 5th 2010)
Format: Paperback
Source: Personal
Page Count: 312

Series: The Queen’s Thief #4
#1: The Thief Review
#2: The Queen of Attolia Review
#3: The King of Attolia Review

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Blurb:
After an attempted assassination and kidnapping, Sophos, heir to the throne of Sounis, disappears. Those who care for him—including the thief Eugenides and the Queen of Eddis—are left to wonder if he is alive and if they will ever see him again.

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Warning: Spoilers if you haven’t read the previous 3 books in this series.

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Don’t get me wrong, I think Megan Whalen Turner is an amazing writer. But A Conspiracy of Kings was probably my least favourite book in the series so far. That said, I still think the writing and plot is amazing. Not as amazing as The King of Attolia, but a great read nonetheless.

The story starts in a whole new different setting from King of Attolia. The previous three books shared a similar setting despite being told from different POVs. But A Conspiracy of Kings is set in an entirely new location where we are once again reunited with Sophos, the sole heir of Sounis.

I love how Turner starts each book with a surprising event. And A Conspiracy of Kings did not disappoint. I am reminded again of how brilliant Turner writes and spins such intricate political plot twists into her books.

“All my life they had made choices for me, and I had resented it. Now the choice was mine, and once it was made, I would have no right to blame anyone else for the consequences. Loss of that privilege, to blame others, unexpectedly stung.” 

We meet again with Sophos, who is obviously alive in this book. From last we saw him in The Thief, was this insecure and scared prince heir who loves books and knowledge. He was at such a discomfort in being the sole heir to his uncle Sounis, that we can’t predict how things turn out for him in A Conspiracy of Kings. But I think Sophos had the biggest character development throughout the entire series. His transformation in this book was very well-written and it adds to the depth of The Queen’s Thief series’ entire plot.

We see the other cast of characters scattered around the book after the first half. And it makes you realise how much you’ve missed them from the previous 3 books. You’ll be happy to see Attolia, Gen and Eddis get involved with Sophos’ role in the book, setting the plot for some very important scenes to unfold in this book. It’s great to see them again all together, making plans to save Sounis and evade the Medes.

“If I couldn’t be Eddis, I would be Attolia. If they needed to see my uncle in me, then I would show him to them. And I would take Attolia’s advice because if I identified my enemy and destroyed him, Sounis would be safe.”

Overall, A Conspiracy of Kings was a pleasant read. With Turner, you’ll never know what’s really going to happen next. It was wonderful to plunge back into Turner’s world of intricate political machinations in which the enemies and allies are never quite clear. Though, I am still frustrated with the ending in A Conspiracy of Kings and cannot believe Turner left her readers with that for seven years before Thick as Thieves came out. And I’m still not too sure how Thick as Thieves will be for me. It’s from the Mede’s POV and none from the characters we’ve come to know and love.

Have you read any of the books in this series and what did you think?

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A Story That Tugs You Northward: a Review of The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

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Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Knope
Publication date: 1995
Format: Paperback
Source: Penguin Random House Malaysia
Page Count: 399

Series: His Dark Materials #1

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Blurb:
What Lyra likes best is “clambering over the College roofs with Roger the kitchen boy who was her particular friend, to spit plum stones on the heads of passing Scholars or to hoot like owls outside a window where a tutorial was going on, or racing through the narrow streets, or stealing apples from the market, or waging war.”

But Lyra’s carefree existence changes forever when she and her daemon, Pantalaimon, first prevent an assassination attempt against her uncle, the powerful Lord Asriel, and then overhear a secret discussion about a mysterious entity known as Dust.

Soon she and Pan are swept up in a dangerous game involving disappearing children, a beautiful woman with a golden monkey daemon, a trip to the far north, and a set of allies ranging from “gyptians“ to witches to an armor-clad polar bear.

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“We are all subject to the fates. But we must act as if we are not, or die of despair.” 

The Golden Compass is definitely a unique and interesting first installment to the highly-acclaimed His Dark Materials Trilogy. I’ve heard of this series for a while now and with the excitement surrounding The Book of Dust coming out on 19th October, there’s a lot of hype surrounding the original series. The Book of Dust is set in the world of His Dark Materials, so I’m pretty excited to start this series.

Right off the bat I have to say this fantasy series crosses between both young adult and adult fantasy genres. The way the story skips from childish language to subliminal messages buried within the plot was nothing short of amazing. While this may throw off some people as the writing style switches every so often, I personally found that this trait adds to the book’s appeal. Sure it was frustrating at times to read about an extensive description of a scene, but to have a precocious child like Lyra Balacqua simplify everything afterward helped a lot. So a fair warning to future readers: the writing can get long-winded and very descriptive (just like adult fantasy reads tend to do), but if you can get used to that sort of writing, then you’ll enjoy the plot and group of characters in The Golden Compass.

Speaking of characters, there was nothing short in the supply of characters written in this book. From armored bears, fierce and loyal Gyptians, to endearing daemons who are the reflections to a human soul, you’ll find something to love in each character. The only problem I had was the lack of depth the characters seem to have, asides from Lyra of course. While it was enjoyable to follow her plight to the North, I wish the other characters were written with more depth. I would have loved to know more background on Mrs Coulter and Lord Asriel, and also more on Farder Coram and John Faa. I would have appreciated to have known where they originated and their intentions by the end of the book. Sure a couple of the characters’ persona were greatly revealed at the end of the book, but some were left hanging and I’m hoping they get more attention in the sequels.

On the other hand, the plot was very well written in my opinion. There have been countless discussions surrounding His Dark Materials and its subliminal messages about anti-Christianity or anti-organized religion for that matter. But you can definitely enjoy this book despite whatever faith you hold. The plot did get draggy in the first 200 pages but it picked up pretty quickly afterwards. We got to see Lyra quick and brilliant mind in saving the children from the North. We also got to see who (or what) these daemons really are and what they represent by the end of the book. There were a lot of unexpected twists and turns that gripped my attention. And while some scenes were very short-lived, I believe there is much potential in this series for the sequel to make up for.

On a side note, the fact that this book has been reviewed many times for its religious (or anti-religious) themes have been fascinating. I’ve become a bit obsessed in reading reviews about the book and the movie adaptation from other readers, Christians and non-Christians alike. Though no Biblical scenes were explicitly written about in this book, a certain religious conversation at the end of the book will leave you thinking what the author is trying to present through his characters.

I was a bit surprised to discover that this book was written for children when it would have suited more matured readers with its deep embedded messages. But I assure you as children with much simpler minds, they will still be able to enjoy this book for its great cast of characters and the amazing plot. Asides from that, I leave it up to you to read more on the religious themes set within the book yourself.

But let me just say, when I figured out the roles of daemons, Dust and Lord Asriel in their connection to the entire plot, things got a whole lot more impressive.

“Human beings can’t see anything without wanting to destroy it. That’s original sin. And I’m going to destroy it. Death is going to die.” 

Overall, I enjoyed The Golden Compass. Though a lot of descriptions and draggy plots were involved, I believe it was necessary to build the world of parallels for the sequels to take place in.

Have you read this trilogy and what did you think about it?

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Thank you Penguin Random House Malaysia for providing a copy in exchange of an honest review!

A Love so Sharp and Cutting: a Review of Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

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Genre:
Fantasy, Young Adult
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication date: September 5th, 2017
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing Malaysia
Page Count: 384

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Blurb:
Frozen meets The Bloody Chamber in this feminist fantasy reimagining of the Snow White fairytale

At sixteen, Mina’s mother is dead, her magician father is vicious, and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone—has never beat at all, in fact, but she’d always thought that fact normal. She never guessed that her father cut out her heart and replaced it with one of glass. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees its king for the first time, Mina forms a plan: win the king’s heart with her beauty, become queen, and finally know love. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother.

Fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother, and one day she discovers why: a magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s order. But despite being the dead queen made flesh, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. She gets her wish when her father makes Lynet queen of the southern territories, displacing Mina. Now Mina is starting to look at Lynet with something like hatred, and Lynet must decide what to do—and who to be—to win back the only mother she’s ever known…or else defeat her once and for all.

Entwining the stories of both Lynet and Mina in the past and present, Girls Made of Snow and Glass traces the relationship of two young women doomed to be rivals from the start. Only one can win all, while the other must lose everything—unless both can find a way to reshape themselves and their story.

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I was very excited upon receiving an ARC of Girls Made of Snow and Glass. I didn’t know much about it and there hasn’t been much reviews up when I got the book. But I have seen some excitement surrounding it and decided to go in blindly. I was aware that Girls Made of Snow and Glass is a Snow White retelling and while Snow White is my least favourite Disney princess, I was still excited to read this.

Girls Made of Snow and Glass brings us on a journey of two brilliant and strong female characters: Mina, the Whitespring Queen who happens to be Lynet’s stepmother. You’ll find similarities in Girls Made of Snow and Glass to Snow White. For example, references to mirrors and apples are frequently made. And the Hunstman that freed Snow White when he was supposed to kill her also makes and appearance. But unlike the originial story, he plays a much bigger role in this book.

“You’ll find something that’s yours alone. And when you do, don’t let anyone take it from you…”

I love how much depth Girls Made of Snow and Glass contained. I’ve always loved fairy tale retellings, because it allows us to think back on the definition of ‘evil’ and ‘wickedness’. The battle between good and bad has always been crystal clear in myths and fairy tales. But with retellings, you just never know who’s the real villain in the story.

And that is what’s so great about Girls Made of Snow and Glass. We get to see more of the evil stepmother and her roots before becoming Queen. What really happened to her that turned her into the heartless figure we’ve all known from Snow White? And is she really as evil as she’s made out to be?

All these questions gets answered in Girls Made of Snow and Glass on top of us getting more action from Lynet. She’s definitely the opposite of Snow White. She started out delicate, fragile and soft in the beginning, but her development throughout the book is just plain awesome.

I have so much love for these 2 characters. While most fantasy books have two women in power fighting each other, Girls Made of Snow and Glass shows us just how possible it is for 2 strong women to support and love one another. And their journey in achieving that trust and support was truly well written. This is one of the most feministic fantasy books I have ever read, and I admit we need more of this character positivity in the world. We need women everywhere to know that we should stand by each other, not tear one another apart for power.

On top of that, the ideology of true love and what it means gets addressed so well in this book. Mina who’s been chasing after love for so long will soon realise where true love resides and how Lynet plays a part in in it. Too often many of us believe that love only resides in relationships and Prince Charming. But Girls Made of Snow and Glass shows us that love can easily be found, if we see the beauty in each person instead of the bad.

“Weak or strong – she didn’t know what they meant anymore. Maybe they didn’t mean the same thing for everyone…”

Overall, a brilliant fairy tale retelling that will make you see the original story in a whole new light. With a brilliant new cast of characters and more magical scenes, Girls Made of Snow and Glass is a read not to be missed!

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Thank you Pansing Malaysia for providing a copy in exchange of an honest review!