Review: A Court of Wings and Ruin (Sarah J Maas)

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Genre:
Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children Books
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #3
Publication date: May 2nd, 2017
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing Malaysia
Page Count: 699

Read my reviews for the previous books in the series:
A Court of Thorns and Roses
A Court of Mist and Fury

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Blurb:
Looming war threatens all Feyre holds dear in the third volume of the #1 New York Times bestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses series.

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit-and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords-and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.

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Wow. I cannot believe the series have come to an end. All that waiting for a year after A Court of Mist and Fury was released. And we’ve come to the end of Rhys & Feyre’s story.

Did you hear that crack?

I think my heart broke a little.

I’m not entirely sure how to write this review. The book is pretty massive. I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that I read 700 pages in a week. I don’t think that’s ever happened to me before.

But in all seriousness, I’ll split this review into two sections: things I liked about it and things I didn’t. Because I have to admit I had some problems with how the book turned out in the final 200 pages.

Also, be warned that there will be some mild spoilers for this review and major spoilers from A Court of Thorns and Roses & A Court of Mist and Fury in case you haven’t read the first two installments yet.

So read at your own risk.

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Hands down the best thing about any Sarah J Maas book is the writing. If you want a fast-paced fantasy novel, Maas is the person to go to. I have no idea what it is, but her words just grip me so hard and suck me right into the plot and characters she’s crafted so wonderfully for this series. From the moment I read A Court of Thorns and Roses, I knew that Maas has a talent for getting your senses heightened and bringing out unexpected twists.

The plot in A Court of Wings and Ruin is more intense and complex than A Court of Mist and Fury. We see more strategies being laid out by the Inner Circle as they prepare for war with the King of Hybern and attempt to find as many allies as possible. This is where I got sucked right into the book and breezed through it. There’s always something happening with each chapter that you can’t stop reading in fear of missing out the next big twist of the story. It is more serious and intense compared to A Court of Mist and Fury in a way that romance doesn’t really set itself in so well this time.

In A Court of Mist and Fury, we saw the emotional and intimate side of Feyre and Rhys, but in ACOWAR, we see the war as the main focus point and every action and words carried out within the book revolved around this war. So if you’re expecting more drama and kick-ass scenes, you will love what A Court of Wings and Ruin has in store for you.

I personally love how The Inner Circle of Rhys is highlighted in this book on a whole new level. I swear Cassian’s entrance was the most epic thing I’ve seen after Goblin and Grim Reaper’s street entrance (holla if you got this Kdrama reference!)

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You’re getting more sass and crass jokes from everyone and their involvement in the war is so well written that you do feel part of the Court of Dreams when you read this. It was wonderful to be able to read about Feyre’s relationships with her sisters, how Nesta and Elain struggled with being a Fae, and how Tamlin and Jurian turned out to be at the end. There are these characters with complex backgrounds and personal issues that seeing them grow and change to suit their surroundings was an exciting thing to read.

“We’re all a broken, in our own ways – In places no one might see.”

Although I gotta warn ya, so many new characters appear that it will be easy to get lost. So keep track of them in a notepad.

“When you erupt, girl, make sure it is felt across worlds.”  

But the best part of this book? How amazing Feyre developed as High Lady of the Night Court. I mean so much bad-assery and kick-ass moments are included in this book that you can’t help but to feel proud of your girl.

Feyre did good. And I mean, real good.

All her cunning ideas, sharp strategies and plots to help fight in the war just make you realise how far she’s come since A Court of Thorns and Roses and that moment she was brought into the Spring Court. It is always a wonderful feeling to be able to see your favourite character develop and progress as the strong, beautiful and powerful lady she truly is.

And I find that inspiring.

“What we think to be our greatest weakness can sometimes be our biggest strength.”  

Her relationship with Rhys was sweet in this one, though not as emotionally explored in A Court of Mist and Fury. But her positive relationship with Rhys and how he supports everything she does is something I am so proud of Maas for writing. We’re getting more YA books with motivational and positive relationships being portrayed and I think that is so important for young female teenagers. So kudos for this OTP!

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Okay so naturally I’d have some problems with books I don’t give full ratings too. And I pray the fandom won’t attack me for voicing out my opinions on these things!

A Court of Wings and Ruin isn’t my favourite book out of the entire series.

There, I’ve said it.

Phew.

I had an expectation for A Court of Wings and Ruin to have that emotional and intimate exploration between Feyre and Rhys back in A Court of Mist and Fury. I get it, A Court of Mist and Fury was the book they discovered their mating bond and that’s why the personal issues were ironed out. But I feel like it should have been an ongoing thing. Relationships don’t just start out with a rocky courtship and then you talk about it, have sex and things are happy forever. The feelings of insecurity, vulnerability and fear don’t just disappear when you meet your soul mate. It lingers for you to keep figuring out how to deal with it. And while I do love how Maas has portrayed such a loving relationship between the two of them, which I have no doubt is what she feels for her husband, it would have been nice to know that your favourite OTP do get into fights and do find a way to love each other in spite of everything that’s happened.

And with A Court of Wings and Ruin, it felt like they didn’t talk about the serious stuff like how to deal with the stress and emotional burden of engaging in wars. It was all mostly physical contact and securing allies.

But none the less, Feyre and Rhy still remain my favourite OTP. Because they’re still amazing even if we don’t get as much intimate interaction between them in this one.

“I would have waited five hundred more years for you. A thousand years. And if this was all the time we were allowed to have… the wait was worth it.”  

My only other problem with the book was how messy the last 200 pages felt. Things were happening way too quickly. There were twists at each chapter, and so many characters buzzing in and out of the pages that I really had a tough time letting it all sink in and digesting them. I felt all over the place reading those parts and have no idea where Maas was leading us to. But thank God, the last 50 pages made it up for it. The ending, albeit a bit cheesy and cliche for me, tied off quite nicely with some minor cliffhangers that leaves you wondering “What’s next for Prythian?”

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Overall, I really, really enjoyed A Court of Wings and Ruin and do recommend all of you to read it if you want to finish off the series. The entire series is definitely worth a try and it is one of my favourite series that I’ve read in the past 2 years.

A Court of Wings and Ruin is the perfect blend of magic,  suspense, friendships, and heroism that will leave you quite breathless as you turn to the last page. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

If you’ve read A Court of Wings and Ruin, let me know down below how you felt about it and about the entire series! What do you think will be in store for the companion novels I heard Maas is writing? Whose story do you think we’ll read about next?

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★★★★☆

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

Review: Release (Patrick Ness)

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Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Walker Books
Series: Standalone
Publication date: May 4th, 2017
Format: Paperback
Source: Personal
Page Count: 287

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Blurb:
Inspired by Mrs Dalloway and Judy Blume’s Forever, Release is one day in the life of Adam Thorn, 17. It’s a big day. Things go wrong. It’s intense, and all the while, weirdness approaches…

Adam Thorn is having what will turn out to be the most unsettling, difficult day of his life, with relationships fracturing, a harrowing incident at work, and a showdown between this gay teen and his preacher father that changes everything. It’s a day of confrontation, running, sex, love, heartbreak, and maybe, just maybe, hope. He won’t come out of it unchanged. And all the while, lurking at the edges of the story, something extraordinary and unsettling is on a collision course.

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“It was so much easier to be loved than to have to do any of the desperate work of loving.”

I must admit, I was a little bit reluctant to read another Ness book after not enjoying The Rest of Us Just Live Here. But I couldn’t resist that amazing cover and because I loved A Monster’s Call so much, I wanted to give Ness a third chance.

I’m glad I did because I truly enjoyed this gem!

Release is, as mentioned at the back, one of Ness’ most tender and personal novels yet. And it resonates so well with what happens in the book and how Adam is portrayed throughout. The feels you’ll get reading this and the thoughts you’ll have along the way indicates how poignant and emotionally deep Release is.

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Let’s appreciate how well Patrick Ness has weaved the every day life of Adam and the paranormal settings of a ghost rising from the lake. His effortless writing which includes a mythical creature, a Queen of the Underworld and the ghost aforementioned grips you in even harder into this book and makes you wonder how this situation could even work out.

The whole genre of this book got me baffles because while it feels like a YA novel, it has paranormal/fantasy /thriller elements to it that doesn’t quite lean into that spectrum, but feels like it does somehow…? But regardless, the plot was just great. I finished this book within 4 days and felt what a quick read this was. I was on my toes figuring out how things will end, and felt mildly surprised by the ending. It was perfect and suited the book really well.

The feels of this book are beyond what I expected. I was fairly surprised that this is an LGBT book. I haven’t read much LGBT YA books because the ones I read were a tiny bit cheesy in the romance department. But Release allowed us to look deeply into Adam’s emotional struggles as he comes to terms with his family and his relationships. Whether it’s with his devout Christian parents and brother, or ex-boyfriend Enzo, we see how he found self-acceptance and the strength to deal with life and move on after all the heartbreak inflicted by both parties.

“They’re your parents. They’re meant to love you because. Never in spite.”  

This book felt very matured, not only in the explicit sexual contents (so be warned!), but in the emotional questions posed by Adam in discovering his true family and how sometimes you just live the life you’re given…

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Adam is such a wonderful character and I love his sense of maturity, vulnerability and sensitivity to the world around him. His friendship with his best friend, Angela, a Korean-American with Dutch parents is pretty much the highlight in this book for me! While people questioned the Asian sidekick-trope going on in YA novels recently, it didn’t feel that way in Release as Angela played as much as Adam the main character in this book. You’ll immediately fall in love with her and all of her brilliant quotes!

“Never pass up the chance to be kissing someone. It’s the worst kind of regret.”  

The other characters are amazingly written as well. You see the true struggle of coming out to devout Christian parents like Adam’s, and I find this could be relatable to so many teens. With no strong family support, it is easy to feel lost and question your every decision.

And I don’t mean this just for the LGBT teens…

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Overall, this book was a brilliant take into the struggles of a teen finding himself and believing he made the right choices in a world set in their ways of pre-approved choices which clashed with his. The strength to challenge and bring new change is something that we could all relate with Adam. Our troubles and vulnerabilities shouldn’t be the only things keeping us in the way of embracing ourselves, and Release reminds us of that.

Even when ghosts rise from lakes and threaten to destroy your whole world and mankind as it is….

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★★★★☆

Review: When Dimple Met Rishi (Shandya Menon)

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Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication date: May 30, 2017
Format: eARC
Source: Author
Page Count: 320
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Blurb:
A laugh-out-loud, heartfelt YA romantic comedy, told in alternating perspectives, about two Indian-American teens whose parents have arranged for them to be married.

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

REVIEW:

THIS BOOK WAS SUCH A GEM!

When Dimple Met Rishi had me all mushy and glowing inside! I truly loved the wonderful Indian representation in such a modern YA Contemporary. It felt like reading a truly positive YA novel but instead of the usual white characters, we have Dimple and Rishi. Both Indian teenagers finding a place to fit in a place where neither feels truly at home. With a rich cultural background and strong family influence, When Dimple Met Rishi provides us with a unique outlook into one of the many Asian cultures that aren’t very well-known.

Ever since Wing Jones, I’ve come to appreciate Asian characters in YA Contemporaries. I’m so happy more diverse authors are reaching out to introduce their readers to the many wonderful cultures this Earth has to offer. And this book met every expectation of mine!

Strong, level-headed and ambitious teenage girl who happens to be a geek and goes get what she wants: checked.

A respectful teenage guy who appreciates his Indian roots and traditions while coming from a wealthy family, who happens to be humble and holds on tight to his family values: checked.

I’ve enjoyed the plot of this book, it was well written and had a good pace to it. It wasn’t draggy and while cliches still existed that reminded me so much of Hindi films, I think it complimented the book well! The characters were very well developed too. I immediately took a liking to Dimple for her fieriness and high ambitions to become a successful coder. As a working professional girl myself, I feel the need for publishers to provide more books to young girls encouraging them to dream and be whoever they want to be despite the stereotypes or stigma. When Dimple Met Rishi is such a wonderful testament to pushing girls outside their comfort zones, in believing in love and chasing after what you desire.

The book questions peer pressure and finding courage to stand up for what you believe in, which is wonderful I must say.

Anyway, I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants a sweet, romantic read with a wonderful dash of diversity in the mix! This book comes out May 30, 2017 so keep a look out!

I’d like to thank the author for providing me an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

RATING: ★★★★☆

Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

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Genre:
Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication date: January 31, 2017
Format: Paperback
Source: Personal
Page Count: 407
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Blurb:
Whatever you’ve heard about Caraval, it doesn’t compare to the reality. It’s more than just a game or a performance. It’s the closest you’ll ever find to magic in this world . . .

Welcome, welcome to Caraval―Stephanie Garber’s sweeping tale of two sisters who escape their ruthless father when they enter the dangerous intrigue of a legendary game.

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

REVIEW: (Contains spoilers!)

Well, this book has been…interesting to read. I’m not exactly jumping head over heels for this book. So a fair warning to ya, this is gonna be a rant. Because I didn’t enjoy this as much as I was hoping to. I may be one of the few who found this book to be over-hyped and believe that this book is just not for me. And I was so caught up in the hype, waiting for its publication date. But unfortunately, Caraval was a huge disappointment for me.

What I Liked About Caraval:

“Whatever you’ve heard about Caraval, it doesn’t compare to the reality. It’s more than just a game or performance. It’s the closest you’ll ever find yourself magic in this world.”

Because I still believe each book has its merits, I’ll point out what I like about this book before telling you what about it that irked me.

I like the world building and writing in this one. Garber has done well in that, at least. It was fairly easy to imagine the wonderful world that is Caraval and its unique and magical characters. We have a beautiful island where Caraval is held and where all the mysteries and wonders take place.

With breath-taking views and splendid architecture that comes alive at night, Caraval has a pretty descriptive and interesting setting.

The writing is also alright for me. Whilst the plot isn’t my favourite part of the book, the writing does have its own special essence that made me continue reading it despite considering to DNF this multiple times.

“No one is truly honest. Even if we don’t lie to others, we often lie to ourselves. And the word good means different things to different people.”  

What I Disliked About Caraval:

I wasn’t a huge fan of Scarlett and Donatella Dragna in this. Nor was I of any of the main characters. Though I loved the details of the performers and the way they brought themselves about in the game, the MCs weren’t anything special in my opinion. I found the Dragna sisters to be whiny and spoilt, and despite growing up in an abusive environment where their father is the true villain here, I’m surprised that Scarlett wasn’t made out to be a little bit brighter. This is a game of high risks, but to have the MC scared and paranoid the whole time when she should have tried to solve all those clues in a more efficient way just pissed me off. Yes she did eventually solve them and found Tella, but wasn’t her feelings for Julian more important?

It certainly felt that way…

Because what’s more cliche in a YA book than 2 MCs hating each other in the beginning only to fall in love after a week of knowing each other? God forbid, we teach the young-lings that going off on an adventure with a random stranger is a good idea.

The whole plot didn’t really work out for me. It felt like the romance was more of the focus in this book. That and Scarlett’s insistence of getting married to the Count and running away to her happily ever after, instead of figuring out how to save her sister from Legend’s grasp.

The ending seemed a bit abrupt and it felt like the story wanted to save everyone from dying. But I guess that kind of manipulation and deception is what made people like this book.

The one thing I truly felt made this book overrated is its comparison to The Night Circus (Erin Morgenstern). I’ve read The Night Circus and I can honestly say Caraval doesn’t even begin to compare with it. The Night Circus had so much depth, plot and wonderful characters in spite of the amazing love story woven into it.

So no, Caraval is unlike The Night Circus.

So those are my thoughts on Caraval. I won’t be apologetic for having an unpopular opinion on an over-hyped book. It just didn’t work out for me. Though I won’t continue with the series, you could still give it a try. If you’ve read this do let me know what you think of it and what made you like it!

RATING: ★★☆☆☆

Review: Wing Jones (Katherine Webber)

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Genre:
Young Adult Contemporary
Publisher: Walker Books
Publication date: January 5, 2017
Format: Paperback
Source: Personal
Page Count: 384
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Blurb:
Jandy Nelson meets Friday Night Lights: a sweeping story about love and family from an exceptional new voice in YA. With a grandmother from China and another from Ghana, fifteen-year-old Wing Jones is often caught between worlds. But when tragedy strikes, Wing discovers a talent for running she never knew she had. Wing’s speed could bring her family everything it needs. It could also stop Wing getting the one thing she wants.

REVIEW:

“Neither of us belonged with anyone else, so we belonged together.”  

I’m beginning to believe in YA Contemporaries again after reading Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven. Stories about misfits or teenagers who feel out of place in the social hierarchy are something I love rooting for. And Wing Jones is definitely a book I root for endlessly.

I stumbled across Wing Jones in places that most people find book recommendations: Instagram. I was blown away by how beautiful the cover and spray painted edges are. But most of all, the story attracted me the most. The journey of a girl of African and Chinese heritage finding her potential through running got me hooked, and though I am neither biracial or athletic, I do love books that promote diversity and finding your own strength in the darkest of times.

I also love it when the characters are simple and the author doesn’t focus much on their sexual orientation, and whilst I respect LGBT themed books, it’s nice to see authors taking a different approach in addressing issues that teenagers face in adapting to difficult social situations. I love how Wing is a child of inter-racial marriage and while it seems a tad bit far fetched that both her paternal and maternal grandmothers are living under the same roof, the prejudice she faces in school is very real and daunting. I’ve had friends who are children of inter-racial marriages face these problems in school and throughout college: never really finding your place in the social chain because of the way you look.

“So I do what I do best. I keep quiet.”  

Wing Jones is such a well-written book about believing in yourself and accepting what makes you unique that I felt uplifted throughout the book. There are difficult moments in the book involving Wing’s older brother and her family’s impending financial crisis. But her grace and perseverance are what made me love Wing so much. For a 16-year-old, she seems very mature and knows what she wants. And while she has a lot of insecurities like all teenage girls do, she found the ability to see the beautiful side of herself and bring happiness to her family.

The situations faced by Wing are so real and emotional that I wish all YA contemporaries are this matured and realistic. Because teenagers need to learn that life is difficult, and you can never take it for granted or be lazy to reach your highest potential.I am a girl of high ambitions and dreams, and I wish my juniors could have the same drive and fire within them to go out and get what they wish for. God forbid, we need more girls like Wing in our society.

Overall, this book is a wonderful read and I would highly recommend it if you want to read something heart-warming that will leave you feeling happy at the end. I thought the ending was too brief for my liking, but I did enjoy the book in its entirety.

RATING: ★★★★☆

Have you read this book? What did you think of it?

Review: What Light (Jay Asher)

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Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication date: October 18, 2016
Format: Paperback
Source: Personal
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Blurb:
Sierra’s family runs a Christmas tree farm in Oregon—it’s a bucolic setting for a girl to grow up in, except that every year, they pack up and move to California to set up their Christmas tree lot for the season. So Sierra lives two lives: her life in Oregon and her life at Christmas. And leaving one always means missing the other.

Until this particular Christmas, when Sierra meets Caleb, and one life eclipses the other.

By reputation, Caleb is not your perfect guy: years ago, he made an enormous mistake and has been paying for it ever since. But Sierra sees beyond Caleb’s past and becomes determined to help him find forgiveness and, maybe, redemption. As disapproval, misconceptions, and suspicions swirl around them, Caleb and Sierra discover the one thing that transcends all else: true love.

Review: (Contains some spoilers!)

Well…where do I begin with this book?

Let me just start off with how much I love Thirteen Reasons Why and how it brought so much light to bullying issues among high school students and surfaced many important questions about mental illness.

What Light is the opposite of how enlightening Thirteen Reasons Why was. Oh how I wish I had known this beforehand!

I bought this book on a whim thinking “Jay Asher wrote a new book? Sign me up! This is gonna be fantastic”

Boy, was I wrong. Dead wrong.

Apart from the festive Christmas-y feels which I genuinely enjoyed (even though I don’t celebrate Christmas, it does remind me of the wonderful winter I spent in London back in 2015), this book fell very flat for me. Like, iPhone-drops-on-your-face-flat.

It’s a miracle that I eventually finished this because I thought about DNF-ing this several times (per day).

The Plot

Though I’m not a huge reader of YA novels, I am well aware of the cliche tropes contained within it. And What Light has the ultimate cliche of nice white girl-next-door falls for dashingly  good looking white male teen who, lo and behold, has a troubled past in need of a redemption!

Quite the package isn’t he.

The entire book is about Sierra coming to terms with Caleb’s past and how forgiveness and the holiday spirit brings out the best in everyone, and basically how a Christmas fling is never really a good idea for young people.

There’s not much else to the plot asides Sierra making a stand for herself and proving to her parents of how nice a guy Caleb is. Honestly, I do not understand the extent of her efforts.

Sierra also has some minor high school drama with her friends back home, which was resolved pretty quickly without any issue. And this made me realise how lackluster the plot is surrounding her romance with Caleb. It’s like Jay Asher only thought about Caleb as the main focus of What Light and threw the other characters around to decorate Sierra and Caleb.

The Characters

Both Sierra and Caleb lack any personality traits I could relate to. I understand how magical first loves can be, and whilst their relationship was pretty well written in the book, everything else was very blunt, including the characters themselves.

I do however admire Sierra’s selectivity in choosing a guy to date but making her fall in love with the troubled and hot dude in town doesn’t really say improve her standing on guys.

Caleb was strangely much affected by how the town treats him because of his past, given how it was years ago and as I recall from various global disasters, humans forget the mistakes of others pretty quickly. So yeah, to see him getting backlash from his community after all this time, sounds a bit surreal to me.

The Ending

Well tied off although the story was left a bit hanging. I guess that was the point of it. To show that relationships go beyond the endings in books…

Honestly, I wouldn’t recommend this unless you just absolutely love cliche festive love stories and the YA tropes mentioned above. I do know many people who enjoyed this because of the Christmas-y vibe so give it a go if you want! I definitely hope you’ll enjoy it more than me 😉

RATING: ★★

Review: Heartless (Marissa Meyer)

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Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
Publication date: November 17, 2016
Format: Paperback
Source: Personal
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Blurb:
Long before she was the terror of Wonderland — the infamous Queen of Hearts — she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the yet-unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend and supply the Kingdom of Hearts with delectable pastries and confections. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next Queen. At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the king’s marriage proposal, she meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship.

Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

Review:

“But hoping,” he said, “is how the impossible can be possible after all.”

To start this review off, here are a couple of responses I received when I showed this book on my social media:

“I don’t think you’ll enjoy this. It’s very slow and nothing happens much”

“I was very unimpressed with this one. Don’t get your hopes up too much”

So, to be fair, I did lower my expectations a whole lot because I thought this book was going to be overrated.

But I am so glad I turned out lovin’ this book !

It was so unexpected because the beginning was slow and nothing major actually happens. But, if you’ve read Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, you’ll know how Wonderland is set. With its melancholic settings and vibrant characters scattered throughout the book, I found Heartless to be a wonderful rendition of the Land of Hearts itself.

“Mind my words, Cheshire, I will have you banished from this kingdom if you tempt me.”
“An empty threat from an empty girl.”
She rounded on him, teeth flashing. “I am not empty. I am full to the brim with murder and revenge. I am overflowing and I do not think you wish for me to overflow on to you.”
“There was a time” – Cheshire yawned – “when you overflowed with whimsy and icing sugar. I liked that Catherine better.”

The Plot

In terms of plot, this book isn’t up for much. So if you’re expecting adventurous fantasy for the to-be Queen of Hearts, then that is where you will be sorely disappointed. But if you don’t mind a slow heart warming read that shatters your heart into pieces in the most agonising way, then Heartless is perfect!

The story develops as we see what led to Cath becoming the ruthless Queen of Hearts and the journey that gave the phrase “Off with his head” such character. We get to see the older side of Hearts and some lovable characters reappear — the White Rabbit and the Mad Hatter (who’s known as Hatta in this one). To see them progress into the characters I first found in Alice and discover their secrets before meeting Alice was a wonderful experience for me.

Though not having much adventures or major occurrences in the book, Heartless will tug your heartstrings in rooting for Cath and wishing some alternate ending was at the end of the book. When the inevitable comes on that last page, you can’t help but to feel sorrow for the Queen of Hearts and how she came to be.

I love how Heartless is so similar to Wicked where the Wicked Witch of the West was portrayed in a positive manner to question “Are you born wicked or do you develop wickedness later in life?”. And Heartless is a matter of the latter.

The Characters

I ended up liking Cath so much in Heartless! Her aspirations to become a baker and open her own bakery touched my heart and I was rooting for her throughout the book. Meyer also happens to like making her readers drool while reading because her descriptions of the pastries and confections Cath makes throughout the book is divine!

And then, there’s Jest the Joker who was equally charming, giving off that mysterious yet sincere vibe from someone who just arrived in Hearts. You can’t help but to be attracted to him and how he treats Cath, not as a Marquess’ daughter, but as an individual person.

“The easiest way to steal something, is for it to be given willingly.”

Mayer wrote the characters so well in this one that I didn’t feel any important character was left out. Even Cath’s over-protective but well meaning parents were described very well in the book!

We also got to see many of these character’s selves before meeting Alice and what secrets they held long time before that. I especially liked the Mad Hatter origins and thought his history was unique and held so much importance over the story.

Overall, I truly, truly enjoyed Heartless and would recommend this if you enjoyed Lewis Caroll’s works in Alice. Heartless is a wonderful and quick journey to remind us the power of imagination and celebrate Caroll’s works that has inspired so many stories and imaginations.

RATING: ★★★★

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