Review: The Names They Gave Us (Emery Lord)

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Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Publication date: June 1st, 2017
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing Malaysia
Page Count: 380

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Blurb:
From acclaimed author Emery Lord comes a vibrant, compelling story of love, loss, faith, and friendship.


Lucy Hansson was ready for a perfect summer with her boyfriend, working at her childhood Bible camp on the lake. But when her mom’s cancer reappears, Lucy falters—in faith, in love, and in her ability to cope. When her boyfriend “pauses” their relationship and her summer job switches to a different camp—one for troubled kids—Lucy isn’t sure how much more she can handle. Attempting to accept a new normal, Lucy slowly regains footing among her vibrant, diverse coworkers, Sundays with her mom, and a crush on a fellow counselor. But when long-hidden family secrets emerge, can Lucy set aside her problems and discover what grace really means?

Emotionally-charged and unforgettable, Emery Lord’s storytelling shines with the promise of new love and true friendship, even in the face of life’s biggest challenges.

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The Names They Gave Us is my first Emery Lord book. I’ve heard great reviews for her previous books and thought it’s about time I try her writing. And I’m glad I did! Her writing is impeccable. I don’t read many YA Contemporaries, but Lord is fast becoming one of my favourite contemporary writers.

This book had the right amount of raw emotions, friendships, summer breezes and wonderful camp stories!

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The Names They Gave Us is about Lucy Hansson who happens to be a pastor’s daughter. Growing up surrounded by church and religion are what makes her Lucy. But the summer of her 17th year changes her perspective on what is to truly believe and have faith in God. With her mom’s cancer returning causing inevitable pain to her and her whole family, Lucy begins to lose faith in God and doesn’t really know where to grip in terms of being herself and a daughter.

This book had so many emotions that I cannot help but to shed some tears, multiple times, throughout the entire book. It dealt with some serious stuff when it came to mother-daughter relationships. I mean, I’m warning you. Prepare to shed some tears as you’re reading this. Because you will. Reading of Lucy’s fears in losing her mom will strike a deep chord within you. And it makes you think of the possibility and pain in losing a parent.

“You can be okay again. Just a different kind of okay than before.”

Even though cancer is a huge back story to The Names They Gave Us, I’m glad it didn’t dominate Lucy’s entire story. The best part remains the fact that she joins Daybreak, a healing camp for children with troubling pasts, and forges the most unforgettable friendships there. Not only with the little campers who have led such traumatic lives, but also with the camp counselors that eventually became her source of support. And they help her out to see life beyond her mother’s illness and live the life she’s happy with.

“And I want to be one of them. I want to be one of them so, so badly – to fit into this balance, their history, the wolf pack way of them. I see it now, why my mom wants that for me. I see how you can’t help but want it, if you get close enough to witness a group of friends knitted together like this.” 

This summer became the summer Lucy found new strength within her, to change and move on from something that was holding her, and to accept her mom’s condition with newfound believe. And I’ve always loved characters that have wonderful development throughout the book. Lucy’s character development is definitely one of my favourites to read.

“Whose empire did you just overthrow?”
“My own.” 

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The characters in this book were so much fun to read and they brought so much backstory that each person was relatable in a way. Lucy’s counselor friends at Daybreak are what made the whole book great to read. You’ve got a wonderful mix of funny, serious, sass and bravery in all 5 of them, including Lucy. And these are the friends who helps her out, the kind of friends you want by side when you’re going through the good and the bad times. I am endlessly amazed at how well Emery Lord writes about family and friendship dynamics. 

I love Lucy’s character development in this book. She starts out as this naive Christian girl who has only ever known the church as her way of life. Coming to Daybreak changed her perspective of the people surrounding her, and the lives they’re living. She grows so much in this book, from the way she accepts people, to the way she accepts herself and her fluctuating faith.

I guess that’s what I found most interesting about Lucy, her faith. It was realistic to see a seventeen-year-old struggling to believe in a God she once had no problem leaning on once her mom’s cancer returns. Even as a Muslim I struggle sometimes to keep my faith in check. Whilst I am spiritual, I don’t consider myself religious beyond the basics. And Lucy was a character I was fond of. Because we all slip and fall when it comes to our religious views.

And reading of her journey to change and grow as time passes was something so refreshing. Because I don’t know any teenager who was so sure of herself that she didn’t change as she was growing up. Who didn’t fail at relationships because they grew out of it and who didn’t lose touch with friends because life happens. A book so well written like this should be read by every teenager still trying to find the balance between entering adulthood and wanting to remain a child.

“Well, you change as you get older, especially at this time in your life. You become more yourself, hopefully. And sometimes that changes the dynamic, even with people you love. So it’s not that you were wrong. You were right for that time. But you grow up and you grow out of relationships. Even the ones you thought, at one point, might be forever.” 

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Overall, this has become one of my favourite YA contemporaries. And I’d recommend this to anyone who wants a serious yet heart-warming read of a teenager trying to find sense in a world that she once was so sure of.

Have you read this book? If you have do let me know in the comment section what you thought of it!

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

Review: Out of Heart (Irfan Master)

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Genre:
Young Adult
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Publication date: April 20th, 2017
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing Malaysia
Page Count: 272

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Blurb:
Donating your heart is the most precious gift of all.

Adam is a teenage boy who lives with his mum and younger sister. His dad has left them although lives close by. His sister no longer speaks. His mum works two jobs. Adam feels the weight of the world upon his shoulders.

Then his grandfather dies and in doing so he donates a very precious gift – his heart.

William is the recipient of Adam’s grandfather’s heart. He has no family and feels rootless and alone. In fact, he feels no particular reason to live. And then he meets Adam’s family. William has received much, but it appears that he has much to offer Adam and his family too.

A powerful tale of love and strength in adversity.

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When I got this book for review, I immediately thought of how amazing that cover is. With gold ink embossed on a black background, you can’t help but to feel excited about this one. I’ve never heard of this book until I got it in my hands. The premise seemed simple enough, a boy who lost his grandfather discovered he donated his heart to some random guy, who by the way, ends up visiting his family after the transplant.

It may seem like a cliche family-centered story, but there’s something different about this one…

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If you’re looking for a book with intense plot and twists and turns, this book is not for you. Sorry to burst your bubble. I realised that reviewers on Goodreads didn’t enjoy this book as much because of the lack of plot. But I found the book wonderful to read because of its simple and effective plot. Which is probably why this book was originally categorized as Middle Grade. But I decided to put this one in YA since Adam is 15 and the book handles more serious views than an MG might.

I liked the main characters in this one. We have Adam, the troubled yet talented artist teenager who feels burdened by his grandfather’s death now that he’s “head of the family” with the absence of his abusive father. Then there’s Farah, his younger sister who signs because she refuses to speak after an accident that happened when she was a toddler. And we have William, the man who came to the family after receiving Adam’s grandfather’s heart.

The unlikely family bond that forms between Adam and William was beautiful to witness in this book. A man and a boy with all the love in their hearts, finding the right place and people to give it to. A man who needed to heal from the loneliness he felt all his life eventually provided the solace needed by this quirky family so desperately in need of healing and care. And in return we see how Adam and his family provided the love and space for William to fit into their life. Because we all want to belong somewhere.

The book is interspersed with Adam’s writings and drawings, though not much, which made the book quite interesting to read. This added to the appeal of the characters and how well they were tied together in the book.

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Truthfully, this book didn’t really have that much depth. Like I mentioned before, the plot is pretty simple. The bond that forms between William and Adam’s family is the only focus of this story. It would have been nice to see Adam’s friendships with the rest of the teens and even with his younger sister. An opportunity was missed to highlight the lifestyles of a caring for a disable kid. While we did see a backstory of how Farah came to lose her voice, I felt it was too brief.

Other than that, I’m not entirely sure how to feel of the ethnicity of Adam’s family and its impacts to the book. I’m always on the lookout for diverse books with PoC characters. Adam’s family is Pakistani British and assuming that the main religion is Islam for a majority of them, we don’t see much of their culture or religion a discussion in this book.

So I was a bit disappointed at the missed opportunity that this book could have been a great PoC book, but the racial and religion backgrounds were pretty much thrown out the window. In recent times surrounding so many terrorist attacks, that undoubtedly have been related to Islam, it would have been a great book that could educate readers on what it’s like being a British Muslim.

This book could have gotten a white male MC and it wouldn’t have made a difference to the story. That’s how ineffective having Adam as the MC is in terms of his ethnic background.

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Overall, I did enjoy this book despite some major flaws in the book. It was mellow, easy to follow and a great read to further appreciate family relationships and human connectivity in the absence of blood relations.

Let me know if you’ve read this. Would love to know what you think!

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I would like to thank Pansing Malaysia for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Defy the Stars (Claudia Gray)

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Genre: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Series: Constellation #1
Publication date: April 6th, 2017
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing Malaysia
Page Count: 428

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Blurb:
Noemi is a young and fearless soldier of Genesis, a colony planet of a dying Earth. But the citizens of Genesis are rising up – they know that Earth’s settlers will only destroy this planet the way they destroyed their own. And so a terrible war has begun.

When Noemi meets Abel, one of Earth’s robotic mech warriors, she realizes that Abel himself may provide the key to Genesis’ salvation. Abel is bound by his programming to obey her – even though her plan could result in his destruction. But Abel is no ordinary mech. He’s a unique prototype, one with greater intelligence, skill and strength than any other. More than that, he has begun to develop emotions, a personality and even dreams. Noemi begins to realise that if Abel is less than human, he is more than a machine. If she destroys him, is it murder? And can a cold-blooded murder be redeemed by the protection of a world?

Stranded together in space, they go on a whirlwind adventure through Earth’s various colony worlds, alongside the countless Vagabonds who have given up planetary life altogether and sail forever between the stars. Each step brings them closer – both to each other and to the terrible decision Noemi will have to make about her world’s fate, and Abel’s.

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Now that was a whirlwind.

I have to admit it, I never expected to like Defy the Stars as much as I do now. When I received the book for review, I was a little hesitant to read it. I’ve heard of the book and author (she wrote the Firebird trilogy, great reviews apparently) but I wasn’t too keen on starting another new series. But the Goodreads reviews were considerably alright. And I decided to give this one a go.

Best decision made ever.

Defy the Stars is an epic science-fiction masterpiece by one of the greatest storytellers I’ve ever read. It exceeded all of my expectations, not that I had many to begin with, and even made me fall in love with the characters. Which rarely happens by the way.

It is filled with action, interesting outlook on the human condition, and wildly imaginative scenes that transcends technological advances in robotics today.

Naturally, the science geek in me is super excited.

If you want something fresh, unique and unputdownable, Defy the Stars is worth trying out. Here are more thoughts about the book to convince you further…

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I was quite surprised by how fast the book’s pace is. At every few chapters, the plot quickens and suspense intensifies. As we go on this epic adventure with Noemi and Abel to save Noemi’s world, it’s slowly revealed the many factors that could doom or lead the mission to success. We’re presented with interesting twists and turns that inevitably will grip our attention so hard you’ll miss your stop if you read this on the train. (This almost happened to me by the way…). And just as we’re about to understand Abel’s mechanism and progressive nature, action sweeps in and turns everything we know into chaos.

The one thing I truly loved about Defy the Stars is how religion is infused within the Genesis community. Not in an extreme, overzealous manner. But rather how the balance of faith and technological advance is carried out within the Genesis community. How believing in a God helps you find your inner self and live out the best life you can in ensuring your world is taken care of.

“The opposite of faith isn’t doubt. The opposite of faith is certainty.”

As a Muslim, rarely have I ever encountered a book that described the nature of religion so accurately, despite this being a work of fiction. There were so many questions within the book that got me thinking, and appreciating, the fact that I am a person of religion. And when Noemi described her intentions in finding grace, it fits perfectly what I’m trying to reach as a Muslim.

“When there’s no free will, there’s no sin..”

But in no way is this book about religion per se, but rather how that aspect was incorporated within the book which I found so interesting and very well written.

The ending broke me. I cannot believe it ended in such that it makes me frustrated that the sequel isn’t out yet! Can someone point me in the direction where I can time travel to the future and get my hands on it??

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It was nothing short of amazing the way Gray writes, weaving effortlessly the details of space travel and relative human emotions experienced by Noemi and most importantly, Abel. In the beginning we see these two very different characters bump heads as one mech tries to fight the human. But as the book progresses, we see a side of the mech that we never thought was possible and how this affected his situation in the story. I was pleasantly surprised with how Gray wrote Abel in a way that makes us wonder if robotics can advance to that level of consciousness and humanity?

“Your soul is bigger than your programming.”

Not to mention the friendship these two had was pretty special.

“I thought you were opposed to engaging in prostitution to fund our travels.”
“That’s not what I—is prostitution your answer for everything?”  

I truly enjoyed how this book focused more on Noemi’s struggles to accept what happened in the beginning of the book and how this led to her mission to save Genesis. I’ve always loved books with such strong female characters and Noemi is nothing short of spectacular. A Genesis soldier trained to pilot and fight mechs, she’s resilient, strong, stubborn and brilliant-minded that you can’t help but to root for her cause.

And the fact that this book is not a cheesy scifi novel makes it all the more amazing. Noemi is determined to complete her mission, and whilst she does develop fond feelings towards Abel at the end, I’m glad that didn’t become the entirety of the novel.

The additional characters scattered throughout the book were also so entertaining that I hope we see more of them in the sequel!

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Overall, this was such a wonderful read that I am truly looking forward to what Gray has in store for us in the sequel. I’m hoping we see more of those characters that complemented the story so well, and a less-cliffhanger type of ending!

Have you read the book? What did you think about it and will you read the sequel? 🙂

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

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: ★★☆☆☆