Feb 18, 2018

Guest Review: Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Title: Heartless
Author: Marissa Meyer
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Publisher: Fiewel & Friends
Hardcover, 453 Pages
Published November 2016

Summary: Long before she was the terror of Wonderland, she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love. Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen. Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.
Today on the blog we have a guest review from Raisa over at Wonderland NovelsShe was kind enough to stop by and review Heartless by Marissa and share her thoughts on it. We've also reviewed this book in the past, so don't forget to also check out our review here. So without further ado, let's get into the review!

"When please, I beat like a drum. When sad, I break like glass. Once stolen, I can never be taken back. What am I?"
She thought for a moment before venturing, "A heart?"
Hatta's eyes warmed. "Very acute, Lady Pinkerton."
"It's very good," she said, "although I wonder whether it wouldnt' be more accurate to say, 'Once given, I can never be taken back."
"That would imply we give our hearts away willingly, and I am not sure that is the case." 
Marissa Meyer is honestly really good at making me sympathize with villains. This introspection on the Queen of Hearts before she was the queen went from cutesy to dark so quickly. She did a fascinating job of making an authentic hearts - full of madness and the impossible, but also crafting into it the origin story of someone who appears to be heartless.

Catherine Pinkerton loves to bake and wants to spend the rest of her life in a bakery with her best friend and maid Mary Ann, but as a high class lady of Hearts, her parents have set sights on her becoming the betrothed of the King of Hearts. Although she's expected to follow her parents' wishes, this changes when she meets and becomes enamored with the King's new joker, Jest. 

I related to Catherine so much - follow your heart or follow your parents is definitely a complicated question to answer. I only wished Catherine had defied her parents more easily, more readily, but that itself is easier said than done. When everything went from happy to absolutely wrong for her, I couldn't help but cry. It was so sad, and so so dark and twisted the direction this story took. Her transformation in the end was evil and heartbreaking. 

Her love interest, Jest, was certainly swoon-worthy. Though their romance was very insta-love, I couldn't help but root for the two of them to have their happy ending. 

There's also a wonderful cast of supporting characters. Hatta, Raven, the sisters were all fun reads. Hatta's descent into madness made me pity the poor, mad hatter. 

That ending scene though... That was just the best. I enjoyed this dark and bloody little tale. 

Without much spoilers, I'll end it with my favorite line.

"She spoke without feeling, unburdened by love or dreams or the pain of a broken heart. It was a new day in Hearts, and she was the Queen.
"Off with his head." 

We'd like to once again thank Raina for stopping by The Book Bratz today to post this guest review. Don't forget to pop on over and subscribe to her blog!

** Psst! Interested in guest reviewing on The Book Bratz? Shoot us an email at thebookbratz@gmail.com or DM us on Twitter (@thebookbratz) and we'd love to have you!

Feb 16, 2018

Review: Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

Title: Love, Hate & Other Filters
Author: Samira Ahmed
Publisher: Soho Teen
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Hardcover, 281 Pages
Published January 2018

Summary: American-born seventeen-year-old Maya Aziz is torn between worlds. There’s the proper one her parents expect for their good Indian daughter: attending a college close to their suburban Chicago home, and being paired off with an older Muslim boy her mom deems “suitable.” And then there is the world of her dreams: going to film school and living in New York City—and maybe (just maybe) pursuing a boy she’s known from afar since grade school, a boy who’s finally falling into her orbit at school. There’s also the real world, beyond Maya’s control. In the aftermath of a horrific crime perpetrated hundreds of miles away, her life is turned upside down. The community she’s known since birth becomes unrecognizable; neighbors and classmates alike are consumed with fear, bigotry, and hatred. Ultimately, Maya must find the strength within to determine where she truly belongs.

I was lucky enough to receive a copy of this book as a prize for a giveaway, and I'm so glad that I was awarded that chance, because it exposed me to an awesome story that I couldn't wait to read, and now I'm excited to share my thoughts with you guys!

As the summary explains, Maya is a senior in high school, and an aspiring filmmaker. The only problem? Her strict parents don't even know that she applied to NYU, let alone got in. They want to keep her close, keep her practical, and have a tight grip on her future and her relationships, whether or not that's what she really wants, even if they're doing it out of love. On top of that, Maya is struggling with her feelings for Phil, the high school football star that her parents definitely would not approve of. (And it certainly doesn't help that he has a girlfriend and they are madly in love with one another.)

And then something super tragic happens, and Maya finds her life spiraling out of control and into danger for things she has no relation to. 

I really, really loved this book. I think it covered a lot of important (as well as swoon-worthy!) topics that had be flipping the pages from start to finish. There's also a lot going on here -- the first half of the book is so swoony and adorable, and although I had read the summary of the book before reading it, I absolutely was not expecting what happened. This book quickly addresses some really serious things happening to Muslims across the world (especially in America, where this story takes place), and what ensues is heartbreaking and terrifying and absolutely unacceptable. 

There's a lot going on in this book, but everything that happens has an important moral weight that absolutely cannot be ignored. This book will make you laugh and cry with its adorable (and sometimes frustrating) romance, but it will also tear your heart in two and open your eyes in ways you may not have ever been expecting. 

I enjoyed this book so much to the point that I tore through it in just over two days because I kept wanting to find out what would happen next. Things started to escalate really quickly past the halfway point of the book, and I sort of blinked in surprise when I got to the end because I couldn't even believe that it was over -- I was so enveloped in the story that I hadn't even realized it had come to an end. And as I always say, a book that draws you in from the beginning to the end and makes you lose track of time in the process is definitely the mark of an excellent story!

As for what I didn't like about the story, there isn't much to talk about. I just felt like the second half of the book was a completely different story from the first -- while there were little inserts throughout the whole book about what was going to happen later on, the reader doesn't start to put together the pieces of what's happening until the midway point of the book (or at least that's what happened with me), and then all of a sudden things pick up really fast and take a grim turn and it doesn't really feel like it fits in with the previous half of the story that came before it. So that jarred me out of the story a little bit, just being shocked and feeling like I was reading a totally different story -- no matter how good that story was. I think if maybe this scary event happened earlier on in the book, or maybe some other instances of this racism/Islamophobia was made more prevalent in the first half of the book, it wouldn't have felt so jarring when reading it.

But just to be clear: it wasn't the event itself that was jarring. I think that was excellently done. I just feel that its place in the story was what threw me off a little bit. But that's the only thing that I can really say I wasn't pleased about in this book.

But other than that minor thing, I really enjoyed this book and I will absolutely be recommending it to everyone I know. There were lines that made me laugh so hard that I took pictures of them and sent them to my boyfriend and Emily and Amber, moments where I felt myself rolling my eyes in complete frustration with Maya's parents, moments where I was swooning due to the adorable love story, and moments where I was white-knuckling the pages with anticipation and fear. This book totally takes you on a ride, and it's definitely a ride that you'll remember in the best of ways. So don't miss out on it!

Overall, I really loved Love, Hate & Other Filters. If you aren't sure if you should be adding this book to your TBR, I'm here to confirm that you absolutely should. Samira Ahmed explores and discusses some really important, heavy, deep topics in this book that everyone needs to witness and understand. And there's also tons of romance to go around and have you swooning! As the title suggests, Love, Hate & Other Filters will take you on a rollercoaster of emotions that you absolutely won't be prepared for, but you will find yourself falling in love with nonetheless.

Hats off to Samira Ahmed -- I'm looking forward to reading more of her work in the future!

Feb 13, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Love Freebie!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl in which we create bookish lists about everything from our favorite characters to love triangles and everything in between!
This Week's Topic: Love Freebie 
For this weeks Top Ten Tuesday, it's all about love: my favorite couples, romances, and swoons. I'm all for a good romance novel and now is the perfect time to read one with Valentine's Day tomorrow! (Beware! Minor Shatter Me spoiler at the end of this post!)

My favorite romance/swoons worthy reads:

1. Wait for You series by J. Lynn (New Adult)

2. The Selection series by Kiera Cass 

3. Velvet by Temple West

4. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

5. Sweet Evil series by Wendy Higgins

6. Anything written by Colleen Hoover (She's my favorite romance writer)

My favorite couples:

 7. Tate and Miles from Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover

8. Alex and Aiden from the Covenant series by Jennifer L. Armentrout

9. Skylar and Josh from I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios

10. Juliette and Warner from the Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi

I can honestly read any YA romance and probably love it. I always find myself invested in the characters and their growing relationships. Be sure to share your favorite swoon worthy reads and OTP's with us!