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Review : A Crown of Wishes // Finding Yourselves and Falling in Love in a Magical Land

Sparkling Letters Book Blog_ Review-A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi (1)

RATING : 4 Stars

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I don’t know if this is a good way to start a positive review but a couple of years ago I read Roshani Chokshi’s first book The Star Touched Queen, and I disliked it so much. I thought it was too insta lovey, too lyrical, and the truth is, it didn’t make a lot of sense. I simply thought that maaaybe Roshani’s writing isn’t for me—because I know plenty of people love it.

So when A Crown of Wishes came out, I wasn’t so eager to read it. But then the reviews started coming and even the people who dislikes TSTQ, loved it. I’m weak for brilliant reviews, so I gave it a chance and I’m glad I did because this was a lot better than The Star Touched Queen.

Let me start by saying that Roshani Chokshi has improved a lot in characterization. While Maya—her protagonist from TSTQ—was lack in personality, Gauri was not. She is fire and sword and sweet things. She’s complicated—strong, and with a heart of gold. I love her character development in the book so much. I also love Vikram aka the fox prince, he’s so charming and fun and smart and God—he’s the perfect match for Gauri.

The romance between them gave me all the mushy feelings in the world. It was slow burn and filled with lots of hilarious banter!! But more than that, I love how Roshani Chokshi portray the love between them. Love is easy and difficult, falling in love is complicated and inevitable—and also risky. You know the narrative in books that when you find the right person everything will magically work out? Let me tell you something, falling in love is s.c.a.r.y. It’s one of the most wonderful feeling in the world, sure, but putting your heart in someone’s hands require so much trust and doesn’t come as easily as books sometimes portray it. So I was really happy to see Gauri didn’t give in so quickly and instead take the time to figure herself out and the relationship itself. I guess parts of the reason I dig the romance in this book is because I relate so much on a personal level 😛

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The plot itself was intriguing, but I think I fall in love more with the idea of the plot than the actual execution. It’s lovely and intriguing and I just love the idea of playing to win a wish, but the execution feels just a little… disjointed. Though if you think about it, it could be traced back into two things, the writing and world building.

The world building felt a little off for me (emphasize on “a little”). Despite its elaborate description, I couldn’t clearly imagine the settings and all the weird creatures so when things happened involving them, I only like 80% understood. The lyrical writing doesn’t really help, but I admit that it was a lot better than TSTQ. I found the gorgeous proses a lot more readable and I did leaf through the book quickly. Plus I’ve recently been in love with lyrical writing, so.

There’s one thing that make me curious though… why is Gauri’s POV in first person but Vikram & Ashaa’s are in third person? Didn’t realize it at first but something did feel a little different and now I wonder why? I think I’d love it better if Vikram’s POV was also in first person, imagine the depth it will bring to the story…

Anyway, deciding on 4 stars rating wasn’t an easy decision—I went back and fourth between 3 and 4 and almost settled with 3.5, but when I got to the ending… I just loved it. I think it was satisfying and wrapped things up nicely, so here are my 4 stars for A Crown of Wishes. Without a doubt, I will add Roshani Chokshi’s next books on my TBR—in fact, I’m thinking of rereading The Star Touched Queen.

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Book Title : A Crown of Wishes
Author : Roshani Chokshi
Publisher : St. Martin’s Griffin
Release Date : March 28th 2017

Gauri, the princess of Bharata, has been taken as a prisoner of war by her kingdom’s enemies. Faced with a future of exile and scorn, Gauri has nothing left to lose. Hope unexpectedly comes in the form of Vikram, the cunning prince of a neighboring land and her sworn enemy kingdom. Unsatisfied with becoming a mere puppet king, Vikram offers Gauri a chance to win back her kingdom in exchange for her battle prowess. Together, they’ll have to set aside their differences and team up to win the Tournament of Wishes – a competition held in a mythical city where the Lord of Wealth promises a wish to the victor.

Reaching the tournament is just the beginning. Once they arrive, danger takes on new shapes: poisonous courtesans and mischievous story birds, a feast of fears and twisted fairy revels.

Every which way they turn new trials will test their wit and strength. But what Gauri and Vikram will soon discover is that there’s nothing more dangerous than what they most desire.

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Have you read A Crown of Wishes? What do you think of it? Let’s TALK—do you ever dislike an author’s book but decide to give them a second chance? And if turn out you love their other books, do you consider rereading the first one you don’t like? I’d love to hear your thoughts! ♥

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2

Review: OBSIDIO // A Perfect Conclusion to a Fantastic Trilogy

Sparkling Letters Book Blog_ Review-Obsidio by Jay Kristoff and Amy Kaufman (5)

RATING : 5 Stars

Goodreads • Amazon • TBD Illuminae Review • Gemina Review

Five stars, without a doubt. This book BROKE me in so many ways possible but I. LOVED. IT!!! This is everything I ever wanted and never asked for all in one : intense, brutal, tragic, comical, sweet, heartbreaking, unpredictable, and more. And frankly I wouldn’t expect anything less for a conclusion to this fantastic trilogy that is so dear to my heart ♥

I might have trouble writing coherent review so bear with me 😛

If you remember my Gemina review, I said that I didn’t enjoy it as much as the first book. I mean, it was mind blowing and all that, but also confusing. A little tad too narrative for my taste and honestly? All the technical sci fi explanation got me all dizzy 😂 I was a little wary Obsidio might disappoint, but it didn’t. Not even for a second.

I don’t know whether it’s because we’ve covered all of the basics in the previous two books, but all the sci-fi, outer space, ships & military & technology aspects in Obsidio are a lot easier to understand. I could read without pausing to think too much about what’s happening 😛

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Plot wise, Obsidio successfully delivers the perfect conclusion to the trilogy. After what happened at the end of Gemina, Kady & Ezra and Hanna, Nik, and Ella finally met at the Mao ship and worked through their plan together. There comes the new characters : Asha Grant, Kady’s cousin who’s still in Kerenza along with thousands other survivors and Rhys Lindstorm, her ex-boyfriend who’s now a BeiTech specialist stationed in Kerenza. The dynamic between them is GOLD. It’s almost as good as my darling Kady and Ezra’s. Just as good, dare I say.

In this book, we finally got to see the interaction between all the characters. There are a lot of people involved here, but they have one thing in common : they’re all gray characters. They’re good people who do horrible things, and horrible people doing good deeds. Things are never black and white between these characters and just like AIDAN said, everyone is hero in their own story. It’s just a matter of perspectives.

This book showed us how the crew of Mao worked on their plan to survive, working side by side (though a million galaxies apart) with the survivors of Kerenza. We’re never explicitly told what the plan was, but it’s shown so clearly through the documents that I was mind blown. It was genius. And the plot twist… SO MANY PLOT TWISTS. There are so many things I didn’t see coming, it was all so unpredictable and I loved it. It kept me at the edge of my seat all the time. In fact, I stayed up until 2 in the morning reading this because it was just that good.

Now on to the brutal parts. If you’ve read the first two books, I’m sure you know how brutal this story could get. After all we’ve watched a planet, a ship–no, two ships, and one jump station being blown to pieces, right? What’s the worst that could happen now?  I’m gonna go ahead and tell you not to ask or even consider asking that question because the answer is anything, anything could happen in the book. I had to watch another thousand of deaths and characters I loved died in page. It was tragic and frankly, a little too graphic at some point. All those gunshots and blood and deaths–of children and innocent people nonetheless. I think I had a lot of figurative heart attacks during my read 😦

Some of it are thanks to our (not so) favorite artificial intelligence, AIDAN, whom I used to dislike but now I–sort of–adore. I finally got the appeal, guys. I finally got why you people love AIDAN so much. It’s intriguing. Now that I could understand its motives, what it knows, its calculation, the reasons behind everything it did, I got a little attached. And to see things ended the way it did… well, you have to read for yourself 😛

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Aaaanyway, I have so many more things I want to say about Obsidio, but I realized that all these thoughts and feelings would probably make my reviews confusing and not so helpful, so I might as well stop here. Bottom line is, Obsidio is a fantastic ending to this amazing trilogy and if you ever had any doubt on whether it will disappoint, don’t. It’s gonna blow your mind and sadly break your heart but you wouldn’t mind because it’s just that great.

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24909347Book Title : Obsidio (The Illuminae Files #3)
Author : Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Publisher : Knopf Books
Release Date : March 13th 2018

Kady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik narrowly escaped with their lives from the attacks on Heimdall station and now find themselves crammed with 2,000 refugees on the container ship, Mao. With the jump station destroyed and their resources scarce, the only option is to return to Kerenza—but who knows what they’ll find seven months after the invasion?

Meanwhile, Kady’s cousin, Asha, survived the initial BeiTech assault and has joined Kerenza’s ragtag underground resistance. When Rhys—an old flame from Asha’s past—reappears on Kerenza, the two find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict.

With time running out, a final battle will be waged on land and in space, heroes will fall, and hearts will be broken.

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Have you read Obsidio or the previous Illuminae Files books? What do you think about it? This is the first book I really loved in a long time so I’d love to hear your thoughts! ♥

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Review : Strange the Dreamer // Strange, Beautiful, and Monstrous

Sparkling Letters Book Blog_ Review-Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor (1)

RATING : 45-stars

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Strange the Dreamer, much like its title, is strange indeed. Strange, beautiful, exquisite, lovely, and heartbreaking. Exactly what I expected from Laini Taylor. If you know how much I love Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy (A LOT), you’ll be surprised of how long it took for me to finish this book.

I started this not long after its publication date, but then I got bored because it was slow and I was busy and impatient. So I stopped reading at the end of Part I and only picked it up a few days ago—or weeks, by the time this review went up. And boy did I regret not picking it up sooner because I. LOVED. IT. It’s without doubt THE MOST beautiful thing I’ve ever read. Laini Taylor always has her way with words, and it’s straight to my heart because I’m falling in love with her writing all over again.

It’s lyrical, poetic, gorgeous. It’s like lullaby to my eyes but instead of lulling me to sleep, it keeps me awake at nights (see my attempt at extravagant description here? :P) along with its gorgeous writing was its slow pace—which I’m almost sure always go hand in hand. The story build up slowly, full of lush description of people and places and feelings. And feelings, most definitely, because I’m sure I got my heart ripped out all over again. So many feelings of love, hate, despair, hope, and revenge.

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Sarai and Lazlo instantly became my favorite characters. Lazlo with his hope, naivety, and dreams. He’s just so pure I can’t stand horrible things happening to him </3 and Sarai, with her empathy and conflicting feelings that I relate so much on personal level. I know how she feels to stand between two opposite sides and want to try to bridge the difference but gets it all wrong instead. She’s my precious little monster. I love the star-crossed lover dynamic between Lazlo and Sarai so much, but even I have to admit that it was pretty insta-lovey. 

The other characters also have so much depths. I love how Laini Taylor explored their feelings and the reasons why they did what they did. It makes things gray instead of black and white, and I love it. Sparrow, Ruby, Minya, Feral, Azareen, Eril-Fane, Suheyla, they all have their places in my heart.

Just like the pace of the plot, the world building was slow. You don’t instantly get this image of Weep from just reading a chapter or two. But as you slowly read, you’ll see Strange the Dreamer has one of the most vivid world building of ever—Weep is hauntingly beautiful. It’s… it’s gorgeous and mysterious and lovely. And Lazlo’s version of Weep, full of colors and flowers and CAKES. How sad is it that Sarai and Lazlo NEVER even tasted cakes before so they had to imagine the taste for their make-believe?? 😦

Have I mentioned that it was MONSTROUS?? I mean, it”s in the title of the post but I feel like all I’ve been saying was how BEAUTIFUL it is ðŸ˜‚ but it’s also full of blue monsters and it miiiiight remind you of Avatar but this one is so much more gorgeous. Also, brutal and tragic, especially the ENDING I can’t even with that ending </3 though I’m glad we’re only 4 months away from Muse of Nightmares so I don’t have to wait that long.

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All in all, Strange the Dreamer is strange and hauntingly beautiful. With rich and lush writing that would sway you, this book will take you to an amazing adventure. It’s slow, so maybe not the best book for when you’re in the mood for something fast and action packed. The only reasons I’m not giving it full 5 stars are 1) it gets too poetic at several inappropriate moments and 2) it’s too insta lovey—would have been a whole lot better if it was slow burn. But to redeem it, it’s also full of feelings and you’ll probably cry but ALSO IN LOVE WITH THE BOOK ♥♥♥

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strangeBook Title : Strange the Dreamer
Author : Laini Taylor
Publisher : Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date : March 28th 2017

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

Welcome to Weep.

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Have you read Strange the Dreamer or any other books from Laini Taylor? What do you think about it? Do you love lyrical and poetic writings and slow paced books? I’d love to hear your thoughts! ♥

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Review: History is All You Left Me // Character Driven, Complex, and Beautiful

Sparkling Letters Book Blog- Review-History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera (2).jpg

RATING : 3-stars

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It’s a little disappointing to see that I’ve fallen into the hype. In case you didn’t know, I loved More Happy Than Not and this book is honestly one of my most anticipated releases this year. This is gonna be an unpopular opinion but unfortunately, I wasn’t impressed.

History is All You Left me follows the story of Griffin, a high school senior whose ex-boyfriend Theo just died in a drowning accident. Theo was Griff’s best friend, first love, and probably end game as well. They broke up before Theo went to college in California. In there Theo started a new relationship with Jackson, despite saying that Griff would be his end game as well. Continue reading

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Review : The Hate U Give // Powerful, Important, and Provocative

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RATING : 5 Stars

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Five stars and more, and I don’t think any reviews will ever do this book justice. It’s so powerful, wonderful, and undoubtedly the most important and honest book I’ve ever read in my life.

As could be inferred from the blurb, The Hate U Give was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. Going into this book, I almost didn’t know what to expect. I heard it was amazing, unapologetic, and possibly one of the best books everyone’s ever read. But still, I didn’t know what to expect. What I got was so much… more, than I could have expected. This book was so honest, strong, brilliant, and it evoked so many emotions in me. Hours after reading that last page, I’m still reeling with my emotion. There are so many things I want to discuss about this book. Continue reading

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Review : A Quiet Kind of Thunder // Important, Relatable, and Sassy

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RATING : 4 Stars

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Hello everyone! ♥ if you pay attention to my posting schedule, you’ll know that Tuesday is for random posts and review is supposed to be posted on Thursday. This Thursday is almost the end of March, which means I’ll be posting my monthly recap. So here’s a review on a Tuesday! 😀 Continue reading

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Review : The Bear and the Nightingale // Cold, Dark, and Captivating

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RATING : 45-stars

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There are two things that drawn me into this book : 1) Russian folklore and 2) gorgeous cover. I wasn’t sure I was going to like this book and I thought, even if I didn’t, the cover only was worth buying 😛 After reading it from end to end, I could say that The Bear and the Nightingale is one of those bizarre books that just work.

I always enjoy books with Russian vibe, but this book takes place in a rarely seen side of Russia. The characters live in this land called Lesnaya Zemlya, the northern part of Russia where the winter is so long. Since most of the stories take place in winter, the atmosphere of the book was cold and dark. Its depiction of winter nights and forests gave me chill. You just can feel the cold… figuratively.

The pace of the story was slow. It started before Vasya, our main character, was even born and ended until she was roughly 15. It was told from third person point of view and while at first I felt disconnected from the characters, I grew to love it as the story progressed. The way it was told was whimsical. It’s like hearing a fairy tale being read to you on a cold, dark night while you huddle under the blanket near the fire place. The prose is so rich, lyrical, and detailed. It was enchanting, but maybe not for those who prefer their stories fast paced and action packed. This isn’t that kind of story.

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The Bear and the Nightingale has some of the most complex and profound characters I’ve ever read about. They’re just endearing! ♥ At least some of them, while the rests are infuriating but still equally complex. I love Vasya to pieces. She’s so brave and caring, loyal and innocent, but not naive. She loves her family and her horses and the magical creatures so much. It hurts to see her misunderstood by so many people. I didn’t realize how much I care about her until I cried for her 😂

I adore almost all Vasya’s siblings as well. Olga, Sasha (!!!), Irina, and Alyosha (!!!) (sorry Kolya, you didn’t make the list. You’re annoying). They’re so sweet and loving especially Alyosha. I love seeing his relationship with Vasya. He takes care of her. He’s skeptical, but he always believes in Vasya and he’s willing to get involved in whatever weird things Vasya does just so she won’t be alone. It’s sweet ♥ Sasha’s exactly the same, too bad he went to Moscow early in the book and we didn’t get the chance to see more of him 😦 Their father Pyotr isn’t bad either. He’s complicated and I like it. The only person I don’t like from this book is Anna Ivanovna, Vasya’s stepmother. She’s mean and cruel to Vasya </3

The plot didn’t really kick until the third part of the book. The first part was more about introduction and history. It talked about who’s who, Vasya’s mother, the kids’ childhood, and the original tale of the Winter king. Part 2 mostly talked about Vasya’s life during her adolescence and her relationship with the magical creatures around her. Now part 3 is when the story gets serious. I tell you, IT’S CREEPY. Like, seriously! I was scared??? I had to close the book because I read at night and the story started to spook me. Some of the scenes were really graphic too 😂

By the end of the book, I was feeling content but also unsatisfied at the same time. Content because it didn’t end in cliffhanger and we actually got to see the resolution of the conflicts. Unsatisfied because while one conflict was resolved, we know that there will be more to the story, so much more, and I can’t wait to find out what will happen next. I’m also incredibly excited because I heard book two will tell us more about Olga and Sasha, Vasya’s elder siblings who both live in Moscow.

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ALL IN ALL, The Bear and the Nightingale was an enchanting story with rich and whimsical prose that will sway you with its magical vibe. It’s dark and cold and creepy but it will also charm you, especially because the characters are so endearing. However, this isn’t for the readers who like their story fast paced because this one is slow, but worth it ♥

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Book Title : The Bear and the Nightingale (The Bear and the Nightingale #1)
Author : Katherine Arden
Publisher Del Rey
Release Date : January 17th 2017

At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

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Have you read The Bear and the Nightingale? What do you think about it? I’d love to hear your thoughts ♥ Also, I’m open to recommendations if you have any favorites Russian-inspired books 😀

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