Review – Letters to You | Almaz A

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  • Title: Letters to You
  • Author: Almaz A
  • Publisher: Almaz
  • Release Date: August 1st 2016
  • Pages: 96

Blurb

Some people spend a lifetime looking for someone to call home. I found you.

Letters to You is Almaz’s debut poetry collection that narrates her journey to finding love by experiencing fear, hesitation, courage and ultimately letting herself freefall into the arms of her soulmate.


Sharing your love with someone is daunting, especially for those who have tasted its bitterness. Broken hearts doubt themselves and question the existence of true love. Though no matter how far deep this can swallow one’s self; there is always that longing to find love again. Love that can last. Love that can hold them together. Love that is encapsulated with hope, faith and courage.

And I’m trying, 

Trying so damn hard to unearth all the buried dreams I’ve forgotten about, 

Because I’m sure one of them was to love someone like you. 

Letters to You is a collection of poems written by the author for her lover. Every page draws you in with an array of emotions, peeking into memories of love you may relate to. As you immerse yourself into the book, you will see how beautiful love can unfold itself to, no matter how imperfect it may be.

You will always be that little piece of magic I carry with me wherever I go.

As I went on though, I realised that the poems were rather jumpy and sometimes repetitive; which could be seen as raw yet genuine. However,  I do believe that if there was more cohesion to it, the main message the author was trying to present could have been expressed more convincingly. Nonetheless, I must commend the author for stringing her words with so much heart, soul and honesty.

The book talks on old relationships, newfound love and all the securities and weariness in between. But most importantly, it is about the courage to believe again and experience love at its most fundamental. To allow it to take you through rain and shine; yet always finding a reason to smile at the end of the day.

I loved this book – read it in one sitting and kept on marking my favourite quotes as I progressed. I am definitely looking forward to more from this local author. Do read, and allow it surprise you with gems you may find.

 I fell in love with the way you held my hand and the way your breath whispered across my skin as you told me that 

it was okay to fall,

because our bodies may not have wings, 

but our souls already knew how to fly. 

Rating: 

I would like to thank the author, Almaz A, for this review copy in exchange for my honest review!

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Review – Barefoot on the Wind | Zoë Marriott

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  • Title: Barefoot on the Wind
  • Author: Zoë Marriott
  • Publisher: Walker Books
  • Release Date: September 1st 2016
  • Pages: 313
  • Companion Novel: Shadows on the Moon

Blurb

A companion title to Zoë Marriott’s critically acclaimed Shadows on the Moon, BAREFOOT ON THE WIND is a darkly magical retelling of “Beauty and the Beast” set in fairytale Japan.

There is a monster in the forest…

Everyone in Hana’s remote village on the mountain knows that straying too far into the woods is a death sentence. When Hana’s father goes missing, she is the only one who dares try to save him. Taking up her hunting gear, she goes in search of the beast, determined to kill it – or be killed herself.

But the forest contains more secrets, more magic and more darkness than Hana could ever have imagined. And the beast is not at all what she expects…


Let’s face the fact, I love a good retelling. It transports me back to my childhood days. It reminds me of the crazy things I used to do as a kid. It takes me home to this little part of my soul which is forever stuck in Neverland. When I came across Barefoot on the Wind, I knew I just HAD to get my hands on it…. and guess what? I absolutely loved it!

“There is a monster in the forest…”

Set in fairy tale Japan, Hana lives with her parents in a remote village on the mountains. She is on the road of self-discovery, still torn by the death of her older brother, Kyo. Ever since he was taken away by the monster in the forest, her family was never the same again. Hana always tries to be the “son” of the family, doing her very best to impress her parents, especially her father who strongly believes Hana is the reason behind his only son’s death. One night, Hana’s father was captured by the monster too, and the villagers started despising her family, believing they bring bad luck. Not one person wanted to lend in a hand to help her father, not even the bravest of men.

Barefoot on the Wind is a Beauty and the Beast retelling from a feminist perspective – empowering and enthralling. To put it simply – in the traditional fairy tale, innocent Belle did not come to the Beast on her own free will. Yet, even after taking her father as a prisoner, the Beast was lucky enough to have been awarded with her love. In Barefoot on the Wind, dear Hana went into the forest on her own free will to save her father and falling in love is last on her list of priorities. This story is very empowering and you will definitely love Hana’s brave ways.

Be wary if you ask favours of the Moon. She does not grant our wishes. She answers our prayers.

I really enjoyed the Asian twist to it. The characters are Japanese and you will get a fairly good glimpse of their culture and lifestyle. The food they eat, the clothes they wear; the little things which make them who they are. As an Asian myself, I really appreciate Zoë’s research and effort in bringing these characters to life and closer to home.

The writing of the story is simple and very easy to follow. Believe it or not, this is the very same story I told my little 5-year-old cousin when she came over for a sleepover at my place. I told her about Hana, about Itsuki, and about the monster in the forest. She was instantly attached, just like how I was too. The flow is really good and you would find this book difficult to put down. I enjoyed how the chapters were not too long too. The scenes were straight to the point and fast paced, yet perfect in unraveling the mystery – who is the monster in the forest? 

I feel very strongly for the characters. Each and every one of them introduced played a part in bringing everything together. It makes you feel whole. The development of the main characters were very in depth.

The romance was spot on too. It was gentle and kind. Attached and soulful. It is every bit of a mystery you would love in a good romance story. Every bit of sweetness you can find in the relationship between two people. And when they finally hold hands and it sends warmth in your heart, you know the writer did a magnificent job.

And he will kiss me again, I thought, almost dizzy at the wonder of it. He will kiss me a thousand times more, and in a thousand ways.  

Above all, this is a story on relationships and self-discovery. A story of faith restoration, forgiveness and determination. You will find love and comfort in every step and every turn, every chapter of this gripping tale.

“Because you still have work to do. You never needed to tell me that. Your father may have seen you in his dreams, my little flower, but I have always seen you in my heart.”

You will feel drawn to the book, attached to the characters and immersed in their adventures. This is definitely a winner for me. This is one retelling you should not miss!

Rating: 

I can’t thank Walker Books enough for sending me this amazing review copy in exchange for my honest review!

Review – The Little Bookshop of Lonely Hearts | Annie Darling

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  • Title: The Little Bookshop of Lonely Hearts
  • Author: Annie Darling
  • Publisher: HarperCollins
  • Release Date: July 31st 2016
  • Pages: 416

Blurb

Once upon a time in a crumbling London bookshop, Posy Morland spent her life lost in the pages of her favourite romantic novels.

So when Bookend’s eccentric owner, Lavinia, dies and leaves the shop to Posy, she must put down her books and join the real world. Because Posy hasn’t just inherited an ailing business, but also the unwelcome attentions of Lavinia’s grandson, Sebastian, AKA The Rudest Man In London™.

Posy has a cunning plan and six months to transform Bookends into the bookshop of her dreams – if only Sebastian would leave her alone to get on with it. As Posy and her friends fight to save their beloved bookshop, Posy’s drawn into a battle of wills with Sebastian, about whom she’s started to have some rather feverish fantasies…

Like her favourite romantic heroines, will she get her happy ever after too?


I was really excited to read Annie Darling’s debut novel after hearing so many good things about her. Oh and have you seen the cover? Super colourful and adorable, perfect for the story! I must also add that this book came in the mail when I was recovering from a high fever. Such good timing, thank you HarperCollins. 😉

The Little Bookshop of Lonely Hearts tells us the story of Posy’s journey in bringing an old bookshop, Bookends, to life after inheriting it from Lavinia after she died. Posy was both touched and worried when she was first told about this. She had absolutely no business acumen, what was she to do? Thankfully, her quest was supported by the other employees of Bookends who constantly gave feedback and ideas even though they very well knew Posy was as clueless as they were! To make matters more challenging, Lavinia’s only grandson, Sebastian, was such a pain in the neck. He prefers annoying them with his crazy ways rather than really helping.

Annie’s writing is like cotton candy – colourful, sweet and fun. She is capable of making typical items look better than they deserve. From her descriptions of clothes, streets and little jars of candies in tiny shops, she is bound to make you giggle with a happy, happy heart.

“…they’d pause as soon as they came to the delicatessen to look at the cheeses and sausages and brightly coloured edibles in glass jars all lovingly displayed in the windows.”

The storyline was very interesting and unique to me probably because I don’t remember the last time I read a book with a bookshop setting! I loved following through their journey in giving a new face to Bookends. From their brainstorming sessions, to decision-making, to actually putting it all together, the entrepreneur in me was really fascinated.

However, the romance side of the book was rather predictable in my opinion. Having said that, if the book is more about the setting up of the new bookshop rather than the romance, I would have been totally fine with it. But if we were to really focus on the romance theme as one of the very main themes, I am disappointed. The attachment lacked soul and euphoria. I wanted to feel a rush of emotions and have my heart swell in happiness. Indeed, a letdown for me.

Despite that, I am genuinely looking forward to the sequel. I believe Annie will develop more as she grows and establishes herself as a writer moving forward. The series does have a lot of potential and I will not give up on it too easily, just like how Posy never gave up on Bookends!

Rating: 

Thank you HarperCollins International for sending me a review copy in exchange for my honest review!

Review – A Court of Mist and Fury | Sarah J. Maas

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Blurb

Feyre is immortal.

After rescuing her lover Tamlin from a wicked Faerie Queen, she returns to the Spring Court possessing the powers of the High Fae. But Feyre cannot forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people – nor the bargain she made with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court.

As Feyre is drawn ever deeper into Rhysand’s dark web of politics and passion, war is looming and an evil far greater than any queen threatens to destroy everything Feyre has fought for. She must confront her past, embrace her gifts and decide her fate.

She must surrender her heart to heal a world torn in two.


Lately, I have been in the mood for retellings – both movies and books, and since I just read A Court of Thorns and Roses over a month ago, I knew I needed to catch up on the sequel FAST before I stumble upon any spoilers. (Social media is a dark, DARK place for those seeking a spoiler-free good time.) A Court of Mist and Fury left me in a very bad state after – sleepless nights, fever, book withdrawal syndrome – well you get the picture. I’m thankful for my bookish friends though whom I could fangirl with as that really helped me get through the hangover. Yes, fan arts and all, which I still have as my phone screensaver.

Despite recovering from all that, I still find myself staring right back at the book sometimes, in between trying to hide from the secrets I now know of and yearning to reach out and dive into this magical world all over again. Think starry nights, glittery waters and gorgeous mountains all around you. The Night Court, that’s the place you would want to be in. Sarah, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO US?

A Court of Mist and Fury is a retelling of Hades and Persephone, a classic Greek methodology on how Persephone, the daughter of goddess Demeter, was kidnapped by Hades, the God of the Underworld, and later became the Queen of the Underworld.

Similarly, in A Court of Mist and Fury, we will see how Feyre’s time in the Spring Court alongside Tamlin, the High Lord of the Spring Court, soon came to an abrupt end after she was taken away by Rhysand, the High Lord of the Night Court, to the grand, magnificent, gorgeous Night Court. During her time at the Spring Court, Tamlin was watching her every move, overprotecting her from harm and keeping secrets from her. Though Tamlin meant well, Feyre was suffocating inside – it deteriorated her very soul. As she starts a new chapter surrounded by new people, who soon became her friends, she goes through an emotional spin after deciding to stay on at the Night Court and cut all ties with her past, Tamlin and rest of the Spring Court. She chose a new life away from her dear lover Tamlin to be a member of his enemy’s Court. What. A. Story. 

“And I wondered if love was too weak a word for what he felt, what he’d done for me. For what I felt for him.”

A Court of Mist and Fury is the second book to my current favourite fantasy-romance series and it certainly did justice (and more) in bringing the characters to their strongest, giving them the opportunity to shine through. The new characters played a big role in the rest of the story, and I soon fell in love with Rhysand, who is ultimately, not as he once seemed.

“He thinks he’ll be remembered as the villain in the story. But I forgot to tell him that the villain is usually the person who locks up the maiden and throws away the key. He was the one who let me out.”

Despite loving the overall plot and writing, I do have a few issues which I badly feel should be highlighted:

Firstly, the introduction of New Adult content was very unexpected and too early in the book. As the story progressed, the following scenes were much better structured but dear, oh dear, the first scene was a disappointment for me as I felt that even though it was important to showcase the love Tamlin and Feyre had for each other, its timing was rather off-putting.

Secondly, I’m sure you still remember how highly I spoke of Sarah’s writing. Don’t get me wrong, her writing in A Court of Mist and Fury was just as good if not better – beautiful prose, elegant writing and excellent world-building. However, there was one thing that bothered me, the repetition of a phrase – “tear into ribbons” – which I came across in A Court of Thorns and Roses AND a few times in A Court of Mist and Fury. I wasn’t a fan of this at all so it was indeed a letdown.

Thirdly, the introduction of new characters. Too many characters were introduced at once so I was caught re-reading a particular chapter a few times to tell them apart and get a feel of whom they were. This was rather irritating for me but as soon as I got pass that, I did enjoy and follow the said characters with hardly any trouble.

Fourthly, Tamlin’s disappearance in most of the story. I won’t go in detail on this but hey, you’ll see.

Overall, this book was – surprising. I was surprised at myself for not liking it at first (my expectations were huge!) because of the few weaknesses I found very early in the book, but soon, I did love it, but certainly not enough for me to close one eye to my earlier impression of it, which is why I struggled with the overall rating.

I did however, enjoy everything else greatly. I enjoyed the new relationships that grew due to Feyre’s earlier bargain with Rhysand and the friendships that formed in the Night Court itself. I was on my toes for practically the entire second half of the book, praying hard for the dear lives of our new found friends, and this story really shows us how at difficult times, it is the silent heroes who play the biggest role in fueling the team spirit against evil.

This story was indeed a work of art. I’m pumped up and ready for what is to come! Give it to me, give it to meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

“I am broken and healing, but every piece of my heart belong to you.”

Oh and yes, Rhysand is BAE. Please come soon, Book 3? Pretty, PLEASE?

Rating: 

Review – A Court of Thorns and Roses | Sarah J. Maas

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Blurb

Feyre is a huntress.

She thinks nothing of slaughtering a wolf to capture its prey. But, unlike all mortals, she fears what lingers mercilessly beyond the forest. And she will learn that taking the life of a magical creature comes at a high price…

Imprisoned in an enchanted court in her enemy’s kingdom, Feyre is free to roam but forbidden to escape. Her captor’s body bears the scars of fighting, and his face is always masked – but his piercing stare draws her ever closer. As Feyre’s feelings for Tamlin begin to burn through every warning she’s been told about his kind, an ancient, wicked shadow grows.

Feyre must find a way to break a spell, or lose her heart forever.


Let’s talk about how happy I feel to finally revisit my favourite Disney story through this well-told Beauty and the Beast retelling.

Let’s talk about how I picked up the PERFECT book which made me fall in love with Fantasy all over again.

Let’s talk about how great a writer Sarah J. Maas is, certainly worthy of her throne.

Let’s talk about A Court of Thorns and Roses – and how I will force you to read it, if not we can’t be friends!

A Court of Thorns and Roses is a story of Feyre (“Fay-ruh”), who was taken away by Tamlin, Lord of the Spring Court, to Prythian (“Prith-ee-en”) after she mercilessly slaughtered a wolf when she was out hunting. It turned out that the wolf was no ordinary one, it was a faerie from Prythian, leaving her to pay back for what she had done. Being the backbone and carer of her family, it was with heavy heart that she left – out to venture into the world of the unknown with her captor. She soon met many among the High Faes, the ruling nobility in the fae world.

“I found him carefully studying me, his lips in a thin line. “Has anyone ever taken care of you?” he asked quietly.
“No.” I’d long since stopped feeling sorry for myself about it.”

As you would have expected from a Beauty and the Beast retelling, the relationship between Feyre and Tamlin soon grew, and trust me, you will feel the heat. A relationship built from trust and care; sure to make you close the book at certain parts, place it on your chest and just sigh. This is a perfect blend of Fantasy and Romance, and my, oh my, I loved every bit of it.

“I love you,’ he whispered, and kissed my brow. ‘Thorns and all.”

If you are a fan of both Fantasy AND Romance, you’re in for a treat. However even if you are not much of a Fantasy reader but would love to give one a try, please please please choose this book. You will not regret it and here’s why:

The world building was beautifully written. This is my first read from Sarah and I must stress – I was honestly very, very impressed. I totally understand now why she is dearly loved by so many readers around the globe. I felt and saw it all – as the new world opened up before my eyes. Her descriptions were on point, her pace was perfect. She didn’t beat around the bush, no drags. It was all very direct and exciting, yet she managed to bring it together with elegance. I cannot emphasize enough how much of an amazing writer she is. I. Loved. It.  

The characters were very well-developed. Each and every main character came out strong in their own way – characters we could feel for, characters we could look up to, characters we could loathe. Out of all the main characters; Feyre, Tamlin, Lucien, Rhysand and Amarantha, my absolute favourite was – wait for it – Tamlin. I must admit that I love strong women characters, especially one as empowered as Feyre, but Tamlin is a charm. He is incredibly protective over Feyre, he does so much to give her a comfortable life and peace of mind, and the effort he puts in for her is admirable. Everything he does has her in mind, but he never once stopped looking out for his own kind in the Spring Court. He leads with a big heart and strength, both physical and mental, – qualities I adore in him. Rhysand fans, you guys can have him for now. I’m all for Tamlin at the moment. We’ll see soon if that will change in the next book!

The storyline was captivating. The chapters were short yet concise, leaving me plenty of room to think and appreciate as I progressed. The flow was smooth and I was happy that Sarah highlighted a lot on family and friendships too – such as Feyre’s relationship with her father and sisters, and Tamlin’s friendship with Lucien. Overall a good balance of positive lessons to learn and life hardships to appreciate.

Many people I know struggled with the rating of the A Court of Thorns and Roses especially after how good A Court of Mist and Fury is compared to its prequel. But I’m standing my ground. This book is an excellent opening to the trilogy and I would definitely recommend it, hands down.

“I was as unburdened as a piece of dandelion fluff, and he was the wind that stirred me about the world.”

Rating: 

I have yet to read the sequel A Court of Mist and Fury. If you are interested to buddy read it with me, do let me know!

Review – Me Before You | Jojo Moyes

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  • Title: Me Before You
  • Author: Jojo Moyes
  • Publisher: Penguin Books
  • Publication Year: 2012
  • Pages: 512
  • Purchase: UK | US | Malaysia
  • Note: Prequel to After You by Jojo Moyes

Blurb

Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.


This is my very first read by Jojo Moyes and let me tell you this – I am extremely satisfied. Me Before You is as real as it gets. A story filled with love, laughter and pain. Yes, pain. A story which speaks volumes of truth on relationships and life. It’s a book you just HAVE TO READ to understand how much of an emotional roller coaster it actually is. It is sure to make you laugh, cry and experience a major hangover – you have been warned.

Me Before You is a story of Will Traynor, who became a quadriplegic after a tragic accident, and Louisa Clark, a young woman who took the role as his carer after losing her job at a nearby tea shop. Their relationship developed slowly yet surely, and will keep you wanting for more till the extent that when it hits the climax, you feel terribly overwhelmed and just burst into tears. (Read alone. Might be horribly embarrassing if you’re in public.)

The characters are very well-developed and I felt instantly attached to Lou. She is quirky, awkward, opinionated and so comfortable in her own skin despite her many flaws. She is admirably content with life and her non-existent dreams of reaching greater heights, despite having an over-achieving sister. Will on the other hand, led a big life before his accident. His travels, career, money – he enjoyed great, big things in life, of which he no longer could after his accident. Both main characters are multi-dimensional and well-rounded. You just cannot help but fall in love with their sarcastic conversations, their arguments, and little adventures. The supporting characters played a big role in bringing the story together. Patrick is my favourite. I’m glad that he was included in the story! Once you read it, you will know why.

The plot was well-paced and satisfactorily descriptive – weaving each chapter with ease. Even a slight development in the story would give you a punch of different emotions, leaving you in need of more. More emotions, more romance, more pain. It sounds scary, doesn’t it? I did warn you. Moyes’ writing style is incredibly fulfilling. Coupled with the great characters – this book is a winner.

If you’re looking for a boy-meets-girl love story with sappy conversations and happy times, this might not be the one for you. Read this book and you will be reminded of how complex our life really is. You will realize that hey, it might not always turn out the way we want it to but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t important, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t real.

This book is the real deal. Approach with caution, but as soon as you dive in, don’t hesitate to allow it to drown you.

Rating: 

Me Before You is now showing in cinemas worldwide.

Review – The Longest Ride | Nicholas Sparks

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  • Title: The Longest Ride
  • Author: Nicholas Sparks
  • Publisher: Sphere
  • Publication Year: 2014
  • Pages: 451
  • Purchase: UK | US

Blurb

Ninety-one-year-old Ira Levinson is in trouble. Struggling to stay conscious after a car crash, an image of his adored – and long dead – wife Ruth appears. Urging him to hang on, she lovingly recounts the joys and sorrows of their life together: how they met, the dark days of World War II and it’s unrelenting effects on their families.

A few miles away, college student Sophia Danko’s life is about to change when she meets the young, rugged Luke Collins and is thrown into a world far removed from her privileged school life. Sophia sees a tantalising future for herself, but Luke is keeping a secret that could destroy it all.


 

Nicholas Sparks has always been one of my auto-buy authors. His love stories are far from cliché and I adore the characters he brings to life. In The Longest Ride, I was again entertained by a love story, surprisingly not one this time, but two. The development of each love story was a delight to read and whenever there was a shift from one story to the other, I could not help but anticipate the fates of each. It almost felt like I was enjoying two love stories in my mind at once, unable to decide on which one to tune to!

The story of Ruth and Ira could bring one to tears, especially after following the many challenges they had to face in their marriage. While most of the time it was Ira who was sharing their story, I found great strength in Ruth’s character, who undeniably was the more dominant one in their relationship. I love how reserved and adorable they both are, thankful for Sparks’ wonderful writing in capturing “love during the olden days”, which we in today’s generation may or may not ever have the chance to experience.

Sophia and Luke’s story was young yet mature. I love their conversations, laughter and adventures. Despite the intense emotions shown in overcoming challenges and loving each other, I found myself drawn to Luke’s mother, Linda, my favourite character in the book. Her strength and sacrifices amazes me, a perfect representation and celebration of amazing mothers and the stability they provide to every family.

Despite delivering two beautifully crafted stories, I did feel the two lacked connectivity which at first was a major downside for me but as I progressed towards the end of the book, the connection certainly made more sense. Moreover, I love stories which not only entertain, but teach me new things as well. Sparks’ careful research on art was clearly shown throughout the book and I enjoyed every angle he used to focus on talented artists and art colleges, and their importance in society.

Overall, this was certainly another enjoyable read by Sparks. Though it was not my favourite of his works, it definitely is one of his many I will always remember.

Rating: