An Epic Chinese Folklore Retelling: a Review of The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F C Yee

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Genre:
Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Amulet Books
Publication date: August 8th, 2017
Format: Kindle eBook
Source: Personal
Page Count: 320

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Buy from Book Depository, Kinokuniya Malaysia

Blurb:

The struggle to get into a top-tier college consumes sixteen-year-old Genie’s every waking thought. But when she discovers she’s a celestial spirit who’s powerful enough to bash through the gates of heaven with her fists, her perfectionist existence is shattered.

Enter Quentin, a transfer student from China whose tone-deaf assertiveness beguiles Genie to the brink of madness. Quentin nurtures Genie’s bodacious transformation—sometimes gently, sometimes aggressively—as her sleepy suburb in the Bay Area comes under siege from hell-spawn.

This epic YA debut draws from Chinese folklore, features a larger-than-life heroine, and perfectly balances the realities of Genie’s grounded high school life with the absurd supernatural world she finds herself commanding.

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The Epic Crush of Genie Lo is my book for #TheReadingQuest Challenge: A Book Based on a Myth

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The premise for this book drew me to reading it. That and the fact that I won a book in a giveaway and needed something based on a myth for #TheReadinQuest. Nevertheless, I have heard so many great things about this book.

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo is loosely based on the Chinese myth and folklore talkes of Sun Wukong the Monkey King and his journey with a group of magical beings in Journey to the West. I went into this book blind and found it a bit difficult to digest the stories since I’ve never been an audience to Chinese legend, nor have I watched cartoons based on them while growing up.

After a work colleague gave me a crash course on Sun Wukong and his magical staff, I found it a lot easier to understand the plot in this book. So a good tip would be to Google Sun Wukong and read a bit of description on what he’s about before reading this book. It’ll definitely help you appreciate the book more!

I love the main characters in this one; Genie and Quentin are the adorable duo set to fight off all the demons, or yaoguai as they’re known, recently released from Hell. And while Genie is preoccupied with her studies and getting into the Ivy Leagues, even though she’s only a sophomore damn her Asian-ness, she’s hardly in a position to say no when it comes to the safety of her family. She’s your typical Asian student with the slight oddity of being super tall. She has her flaws and insecurities, but they’re pretty minor in the book and I love her determination and hardheadedness for throwing a punch at anyone that pisses her off. I love me some badass female characters.

Quentin is this lovable geeky character who’s the total opposite of Genie. And of all the cliches in the world, they fall for each other. No surprise there. But his strong persona and by-the-book character makes him an interesting addition to the story. In this book, he is Sun Wukong himself who came back to Earth to find Genie and they plan to fight off the hundreds of demons. It was great to see how Quentin was reimagined in our society as Quentin Sun, despite having the few oddities of being a great mythical character.

The one of the two downsides of this book for me was its lack of details in the plot and supporting characters. I understand the fantastic duo have to fight around 108 demons and while they obviously didn’t do that in the length of a book, there was a lack of description surrounding their fights and battles with said demons.

Let’s face it, I’m a sucker for details. Not in excessive amounts, but just the right amount to allow me to appreciate the characters and their ordeals in dealing with challenges. How I felt while reading The Epic Crush of Genie Lo is that when a fighting scene comes up, it’s over in a page and a half. And I’m left wondering “What just happened? How did that end so fast??”. I understand how powerful these two characters are, but since I’m not familiar with the Chinese folklore tales, I’d have appreciated more descriptions of the demons’ features and powers. They all seemed generic to me: feast on human souls and tend to have ugly faces.

I would have loved a bit more backstory to Guanying and more scenes with Genie’s mom, Yunie and also Androu. I felt like they were sprinkled into the book to make it seem like Genie had a social life.

Asides from that, the Asian cliches had me cringing till no end! I understand the book is about bringing diversity to the YA reading pool, and while I’m glad YA is seeing more diverse characters, having a Chinese character who’s super smart, gets perfect grades and have parents who pressure her into getting the best university is a little bit too cliche for me. I’m Asian and I can’t really relate to Genie. Sure I studied hard and got good grades throughout school and college, but I know not all Asians are like this. And somehow in this book Genie gave off the vibe that every Asian in her school is just like her.

“So it’s true what they say huh?” asked Androu.
“What?” replied Genie.
“That Asian families aren’t affectionate?”

So here’s a shocking disclaimer for readers about to read this book: while the Chinese are Asians, not all Asians are Chinese!

Asides from these two shortcomings, I enjoyed the book and look forward to reading more by the author. Who knows, with that ending in this book, there might even be a sequel? It’s definitely worth checking out The Epic Crush of Genie Lo. I truly enjoyed reading more about the Chinese folklores and mythical legends. They have such a variety of characters. And it’s a wonderful way to expose more diversity in the YA world!

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Welcome back to the Dreggs: a Review of Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

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Genre:
Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Henry Holt
Publication date: September 26th, 2016
Format: Paperback
Source: Personal
Page Count: 546

Series: Six of Crows #2

Read my review of Six of Crows here.

Add to Goodreads
Buy from Book Depository, Kinokuniya Malaysia

Blurb:

Welcome to the world of the Grisha.

After pulling off a seemingly impossible heist in the notorious Ice Court, criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker feels unstoppable. But life is about to take a dangerous turn—and with friends who are among the deadliest outcasts in Ketterdam city, Kaz is going to need more than luck to survive in this unforgiving underworld.

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Crooked Kingdom is my book for #TheReadingQuest Challenge: A Book With Magic in It

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“Has anyone noticed this whole city is looking for us, mad at us, or wants to kill us?”
“So?” said Kaz.
“Well, usually it’s just half the city.” 

Crooked Kingdom is the much anticipated sequel to Six of Crows, the infamous series of six delinquents from the Barrels’ toughest gang, the Dreggs. To be honest I couldn’t help but feel excited when I had the book in my hands, but waited 8 months before I actually read it. Runs away in shame.

After attempting the world’s riskiest heist and in possession of the most valuable prize, Kaz Brekker and his gang are faced with more trouble and danger as they try to win the game against Ketterdam’s most powerful and famous merchant.

While I mildly enjoyed Six of Crows, I’m glad Crooked Kingdom is a whole lot better than it’s predecessor and with good reasons.

We see more character developments with more emotional background in each character. We see more scheming and plotting on Kaz’s behalf. Many of which caught me by surprise. We get to see a budding relationship form between Matthias and Nina, which I loved. In contrast, the friendship between Inej and Kaz left me feeling…bland. I have little care for their feelings for each other in this whole series, and I’m aware of how unpopular this opinion is.

“I would have come for you. And if I couldn’t walk, I’d crawl to you, and no matter how broken we were, we’d fight our way out together-knives drawn, pistols blazing. Because that’s what we do. We never stop fighting.” 

Asides from that, the plot build up was really good. There’s a whole lot going on in this book and you better pay attention because what happens throughout the book will take you off guard. I have no idea how can so many things can occur in the span of 500 pages but that’s the thing about YA. Every form of disaster and tragedy is possible. Just when I thought one plan was going well, things got flipped over. It was frustrating at the worst of times, but impressive otherwise.

One of the most interesting aspects of this series is its lack of positive or heroic characters. Typical YA Fantasy series often times see good versus evil situations, but this series has so many terribly shades of grey in its characters. It repeatedly plays around with the cards of morality and survival.

“I don’t hold a grudge. I cradle it. I coddle it. I feed it fine cuts of meat and send it to the best schools. I nurture my grudges, Rollins.” 

I generally enjoyed this book, but was a little underwhelmed. I tried my best to refresh my mind from Six of Crows since I last read it over a year ago, but occasionally forgot some references made in Crooked Kingdom. And to be honest, the hype surrounding this book didn’t help. I had some high expectations starting the book, especially after reading The Thief, but glad I got to enjoy the book in its entirety.

 

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Overall, I’d recommend this series if you love action-packed novels with complicated and a diverse group of characters. You’ll definitely be sucked into the Grisha world and all of its glory.

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Where Monstrous Acts Make Monsters: A Review of V E Schwab’s Our Dark Duet

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Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Titan Books
Publication date: June 13th, 2017
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing Malaysia
Page Count: 365
Series: Monsters of Verity #2

Read my review of the first book in the duology,
This Savage Song.

Add to Goodreads
Buy from Book Depository, Kinokuniya Malaysia, MPHOnline

Blurb:
THE WORLD IS BREAKING. AND SO ARE THEY.

KATE HARKER isn’t afraid of monsters. She hunts them. And she’s good at it.

AUGUST FLYNN once yearned to be human. He has a part to play. And he will play it, no matter the cost.

THE WAR HAS BEGUN.

THE MONSTERS ARE WINNING.

Kate will have to return to Verity. August will have to let her back in. And a new monster is waiting—one that feeds on chaos and brings out its victims’ inner demons.

Which will be harder to conquer: the monsters they face, or the monsters within?

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It’s official. V E Schwab killed me, not for the last time I presume, with Our Dark Duet.

Our Dark Duet is the conclusion to the Monsters of Verity duology. It picks up six months after This Savage Song ends so if you haven’t read the first book yet, you’re in for some spoilers from the first book!

I reread This Savage Song just so I could familiarize myself again with Verity, or V-City as it’s known. I highly recommend you do this if it’s been a while since you’ve read the first book. Our Dark Duet doesn’t give much refreshers from its prequel so it could affect your reading experience if you’re struggling to remember the differences between a Corsai, Malchai and Sunai.

Schwab’s writing has a way of sucking me right into the story leaving me gasping for breath and wishing for more. Every word in this series is a reminder of the thing we fear: how our actions have consequences that we are afraid to face.

“Violence begets violence, and monstrous acts make monsters”

Our Dark Duet picks up in Prosperity, the city Kate Harker found refuge in for 6 months, hunting the monsters in this city. While August Flynn has become a FTF Leader using his music to reap sinned souls and helping to keep South City safe. We see such a huge transformation in August from the lost lonely high school boy to this lean confident soldier.

“I’m willing to walk in darkness if it keeps humans in the light.”

As the book progresses, it does get pretty gruesome and creepy in some scenes. The way the monsters are described created such vivid images in my mind that monsters ripping out the throats of humans was so easily imagined. I got scared in many instances of the book because it got a bit too tensed and I didn’t exactly know where the book was headed.

But overall, Our Dark Duet questions the possibility of fighting the monsters within us as well as fighting those surrounding us. And that is what made this book so freaking amazing. The monsters Schwab talked about are real, and always have been. They might not rip your throats out or drink your blood, but they exist in the violence and hatred we see every day in the world. And the monsters living inside us, whispering nothing but blackness sucking us in, are just as real.

“There were two kinds of monsters, the kind that hunted the streets and the kind that lived in your head. She could fight the first, but the second was more dangerous. It was always, always, always a step ahead.”

I fell even more in love with August and Kate in Our Dark Duet. There’s great character development in these two and I appreciate how much they’ve had to grow in order to survive in such terrible predicaments. This Savage Song had Kate being this tough girl putting on a front to create fear, while in Our Dark Duet she doesn’t need that front anymore. Because my home girl is all fierce and kicking monsters’ asses like nobody’s business.

I love how well written Kate’s struggles with her inner monster was in this book. We see a side of her that’s vulnerable but still cares so much for August. August has changed a lot in Our Dark Duet but Kate still sees his true self. She fights for him to see himself for who he is, and not for the person he’s forced himself to become in the past six months.

And that is why their friendship remains my favourite aspect of this book.

“I don’t know who I am, and who I’m not, I don’t know who I’m supposed to be, and I miss who I was; I miss it every day, Kate, but there’s no place for that August anymore. No place for the version of me who wanted to go to school, and have a life, and feel human, because this world doesn’t need that August. It needs someone else.” 

Although, you’re in for a bit of a surprise when it comes to how their friendship progressed, ahem.

But no worries, in true Schwab form, 99% of this book centers around killing monsters.

Speaking of murders, that ending killed me. I knew the book wasn’t going to end happy but I did not see that coming. My heart broke into a million pieces at that last chapter. So I would recommend you brace yourself.

However, I did think the ending was quite abruptly executed. Like there was this slow incline to get to the climax of the book, and then it crashes pretty quickly to the ground. I still got my heart ripped out, but I would have loved more action and details.

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Overall, this series have such a special place in my heart. Schwab has rekindled my love for fantasy through her Darker Shades of Magic series and I’m grateful to have read her Monsters of Verity series.

She has a way of writing characters that we could relate to so well. She writes of pain and death so brilliantly that you can’t help but to see the similarities between the world she’s created and the one we currently live in.

“I know it hurts,” she said.
“So make it worth the pain.” 

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Thank you Pansing Malaysia for sending a copy in exchange for an honest review!
And thank you Sarah from Written Word Worlds for hosting a giveaway which won me my hardcover US edition of Our Dark Duet!

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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Buy from Book Depository, Kinokuniya Malaysia

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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Buy from Book Depository, Kinokuniya Malaysia

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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Buy from Book Depository, Kinokuniya Malaysia

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

Add to Goodreads
Buy from Book Depository, Kinokuniya Malaysia

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!