Tag: romance

A Thousand Splendid Suns

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A Thousand Splendid Suns Cover“One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls.” How can one not possible fall in love with Khaled Hosseini’s words that depict his sheer love for his homeland, Afghanistan in all of the three amazing novels he has written so far. Like his best-selling masterpiece “A Kite Runner”, that I’ll never get tired of reading, his second novel A Thousand Splendid Suns” did not cease to amaze me either. No one portrays the rich culture, customs, beauty, misfortunes and tragedy that surrounds the exotic country of Afghanistan than Khaled Hosseini himself.

“A Thousand Splendid Suns” is… well, splendid, really. Laced with the intricately detailed story of two tough Afghan Women, born and raised in radically different walks of life in Kabul, this novel delicately sheds light on the issue that has pertained in the war-torn country of Afghanistan since too long; that of oppression of women and terrorism. Hosseini truly does justice in writing about the social injustices that took root in the Afghan culture, even before war came, all the while revealing all that’s rich, beautiful and unique, associated with his motherland.

The novel plot’s follow the lives of Mariam and Laila; the former who was born an illegitimate child to a wealthy businessman, who grew up in the hopes of getting accepted by the society, witnessed her mother’s suicide on her birthday, got married to a vicious man thirty years older than him and suffered domestic abuse that left her hopeless. Laila, on the other hand is born in a nearly-perfect family, if there ever was one when war started taking its toll on the people of Afghanistan. Sharing her father’s love for books and education, her world revolved around going to school, studying, dreaming but most of all spending time with her childhood best friend ‘Tariq’, who to no one’s surprise, really, turned out to be the love of her life. If there is one aspect common in Hosseini’s novels is that life always changes in the most drastic way possible for the main characters. In this case, it was when the Afghan Mujahedeen factions turned against each other, civil war broke out, claiming the lives of Laila’s parents and brothers, leaving her a helpless orphan and as ‘fate’ or ‘kismet’ would have it, she ends up getting married, in her teens to, guess whose husband? Why of course, Mariam’s husband ‘Rasheed’! To say that the extensive plot has way more twists and climaxes that can be anticipated, would be an understatement of its own but the story as whole is heartbreakingly beautiful indeed.

Unveiling the depths of terror and the Taliban’s atrocities in Afghanistan, especially on women, “A Thousand Splendid Suns” is all about the main characters’ struggle to seek their identities and rights in a male-dominated and terror-stricken society, all the while testing their own strengths and courage for the sake of their children and the hope of a better life. For all those, who can’t wait to divulge in a compelling, soul-stirring novel (and shed some tears along the way too), this one would definitely pass for a top recommendation, if not a must-read.

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

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To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han is a short novel that is easy to get into and finish in a few sittings. It is a realistic fiction and romantic read, and has a contemporary style to it although there is a sequel to it called P.S. I Still Love You. This book is a perfect mix of the ups and downs of the everyday life of a teenage girl, and about how the choices and decisions made by her and the people around her can affect her life. Family, friends, high school, and relationships ties this book together to form the story of a girl who writes secret love letters.

Lara Jean Song is content with her life. She is very close with her older sister Margot and her younger sister Kitty and she attends high school and receives good grades. But she has a secret—she writes love letters. She writes down all her feelings and declares her affection for every boy she loves, and she hides them in hatbox where nobody will ever find them. Her secrets are safe and her life is as normal as it can be. Or so she thought. When her older sister, Margot leaves for university, thus breaking up with her boyfriend Josh, Lara Jean finds that her feelings from the past are resurfacing because Josh was one of the boys she wrote a letter to. One day while she is at school, Peter Kavinskyanother boy she had a crush on—approaches her and asks her about the letter he received. Lara Jean is confused, but then she realizes that her hatbox is gone and her letters were mailed. When Josh confronts her and asks her about the letter, Lara Jean doesn’t want to ruin whatever feelings her sister and Josh had left. Peter had just broken off with his girlfriend so in desperation, Lara Jean asks Peter to be her fake boyfriend. She explains to him that she doesn’t like him anymore but she actually likes Josh, but she knows that she can’t have Josh because she wants Margot and him to get back together. Peter agrees and together, they become a “couple”. But as time passes on, Lara Jean’s thoughts become muddled and she realizes that her feelings have started to change. But will she be able to find courage, be honest, face jealousy, and vanquish rumors before what she has is lost?

After finishing this book, I couldn’t wait to get the next book because I loved it! Lara Jean is a protagonist filled with creativity and life, she is really cute and her remarks are sassy and hilarious. The interactions between her and her family and friends are both touching and funny, some moments I found myself smiling or even laughing out loud! I would recommend this book to people who like romance and comedy or want a quick read to get them out of a reading slump (as it did for me!).

My Life With the Walter Boys

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At the time when I read this, which was, actually, a few weeks ago, I kind of was bored with everything I was reading. Who knows? If Ali Novak’s debut Wattpad-turned-published contemporary romance about a girl who lost everything, and then had everything, including a new family after moving into the Walter household hadn’t come into my life, I would’ve went into a reading slump, and my Goodreads challenge would have been even more at stake. It already is, in case you were wondering. I’m like, 60 books behind schedule. Anyways, I must say that My Life With the Walter Boys is absolute literary brilliance. For anyone seeking a new, never-been-done-before kind of story that has every bit of gushing, squealing and ship-creating in it, I would strongly recommend reading this. It changed the way I look at contemporary-romance and how others look at the genre. Many tend to stay away from it because some books become cheesy and predictable, and although this was really, really predictable (I know some of you really dislike that), I loved it. So much that I want to go and read everything that Ali Novak has written. After I grabbed a copy of this at BEA last year, I discovered that Ali is also the author of another book Sourcebooks was amazing to hand out: The Heartbreakers. My younger sister read it and adored it, so I am very excited for it, too.

My Life With the Walter Boys is one of those books that you imagine becoming a TV show slash sitcom. I would love to watch it if that ever became something. It’s so real, normal though significant at the same time. I loved our protagonist, Jackie Howard, who reminded me a little too much of myself, being obsessed with school and a total perfectionist. I loved the romance, even the love triangle that formed. This was an exception to all of the bookish things I once said I hated. For some reason, this seems like the book I would dislike, in the end. Somehow, it was the opposite.

The only thing I have to complain about is the predictability. But that’s what occurs when a teenage girl writes a book about romance and releases it on Wattpad. That’s the only way that predictability occurs. Only with romance. I knew that the ending would occur the way it did, and there was nothing that was a shocker for me. But thankfully, I liked the characters too much to have to dislike this book even more.

Jackie, like the title states, is in a house with the Walters. There’s eleven guys. GUYS. (I would go nuts) She has just lost everything, including her parents and her sister, in a car crash that she was supposed to be in, if she hadn’t caught the flu. She lost her NYC luxurious life, her friends, and has to move to the other side of the country—Colorado, because her uncle cannot take custody of her. Instead, her mom’s old best friend and her family are Jackie’s new home. Of course, she hates all of them at first, blaming them on her horrible life, but as she forms a connection with the older boys, like Alex and Cole, romance sparks. Duh.

Each of the Walter boys (and Parker, of course, who is the only girl in the family, excluding their mother) had their own personality—that was interesting. It’s so interesting to ponder about how an author must conquer twelve different personalities (that’s without Jackie) into a single novel. Twelve different characters who have different hobbies, opinions, appearances… this is crazy. Ali Novak did it wonderfully. We have our popular, player boy who Jackie finds herself attracted to, Cole, who has a twin, and then there’s Alex, who is the computer-freak and Jackie also finds him attractive. It kind of was instalove between her and Cole, but that’s okay. It didn’t bother me. Yet again, here I am talking about how INSTALOVE DOESN’T BOTHER ME. Am I hearing myself correctly? I think I am, though.

It was extremely easy to relate to Jackie. Although I thankfully had not gone through what she had, I loved her as a character. She goes through a swift character transition, from good to bad, doing many things that in the past, she would never believe that she would do. Some may think that this is a a cheesy kind of thing to add into contemporary romance, but honestly, it happens to many people. Sometimes, being too good is boring. *twiddles eyebrows* I promise, I don’t have anything bad in store.

My Life With the Walter Boys is just such a fun, summer read. Purchase it, bring it to the beach, pool, or even couch with you and just devour it. Ali Novak writes with a very fast pace that keeps us readers addicted, and unable to put it down and take a breath until it’s all over. When it was over, I swear, I felt such an attraction to the Walter family that I felt like I, myself, had lost everything.

The Unexpected Everything

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The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson | noun | 1. a book that is the pure definition of summer and everything that it holds. 2. a book that features tons of cute dogs where readers grow overly attached to them. 3. a beautiful story of friendship, real love and all of the good stuff in life.
Morgan Matson is my favourite contemporary author of all time, residing with John Green in my golden shelves of awesomeness (one day, I vow that I will actually possess this shelf), but if you know me, you mostly likely already knew that. The Unexpected Everything was probably my most-anticipated read of the year, and it definitely reached its expectations, though a tiny bit on the lower side. As usual, Morgan’s writing drags, just like mine tends to do when I’m in school, writing an essay and I discover that I can’t stop overdosing on words. That’s exactly what happened in this case, and what has happened with every single book by Matson. When I first saw the page count, 517 pages made me feel giddy, overly excited. Honestly? How could a YA novel that is all contemporary-romance stem towards a 500+ page count? You have to be an amazing writer, which Morgan is, but you also have to have this idea that doesn’t get boring and that could progress into this greater page count.
The Unexpected Everything was expected for me to enjoy. I just knew that I would love it. Dogs? A nerdy-cute love interest? A girl who’s smart and obsessed with school? A book that is written throughout a period of a whole summer? These all looked like things that I would love about this book, and it seriously is true. This was such a good read. Now, I don’t know how I would be able to live a summer like our protagonist, Andie, had, because that was just chaotic (and awesome at the same time), and as always, I just loved the mentality and extra moral that Morgan adds to her stories time after time.
Before we get to anything, we NEED TO discuss the puppies/dogs. I actually never had a clue that Morgan’s story would revolve around dogs. At all. I just thought the cute dogs on the cover huddled around the model (who is supposed to be Andie) were just a nice addition. EVERY DOG MENTIONED, I WOULD JUST GO BACK TO THE COVER. Guys, you see the adorable, big, fluffy white dog? THAT IS BERTIE. NOT “BIRDIE” (that made me laugh out loud honestly), but Bertie. He is the cutest thing on Earth and I seriously was so overly-attached to him that I want to name my future child Bertie. (Even if I have a girl) Bertie is “Clark’s dog,” without stating any spoilers. I love him. And Clark. But especially Bertie.

“Books were everywhere. Not in haphazard piles—there was absolutely nothing about this place that seemed haphazard—but there were floor-to-ceiling built-ins on all sides of this very large room, and they were absolutely rammed with books. It was the kind of room—big couches, comfy chairs—that you would expect a TV in, but I didn’t see one anywhere. All I could see were books” (116).

I would also like to thank Morgan for appreciating books. A big theme of this story is booknerds and loving books in general. Our protagonist, Andie, never really reads unless it’s school-related (HOW DARE SHE?!), but once she meets Clark, secret book-nerd/author, her appreciation grows. Morgan also adds in excerpts from what would be Clark’s books, which I also formed a bond with. Man, this author just makes readers bond with everything/everyone!

Basically, this story is so relatable. Not about dog-walking or the romance between Clark and Andie, but because of Andie herself. I LOVED HER. Andie is the daughter of a Congressman, who is a single father after Andie’s mother died from ovarian cancer. She loves school, plans on going into pre-med, is looking into internships, plans everything out, has her life planned out, and has a great group of friends who always support her. It sounds perfect, right? Her internship fails. Her father doesn’t act like a father. Her relationships only last three weeks. Her summer job is dog-walking. I loved how Morgan looks at imperfections and creates the summer of a lifetime (with many flaws) for Andie and her friends. Friendship was a hugely important theme of this story, and I loved how tight-knit Andie’s group was. Toby, Bri, Palmer, Tom and Clark all had their own personalities which made this a really fun read. I couldn’t just pick my favourite character. They were all astonishing.

As Morgan had in every book of hers, especially Since You’ve Been Gone, romance is a big factor, but not everything. That is why I like to call Morgan’s stories real and inspiring, because they closely live up to the lives of teenagers. BUT THE ROMANCE WAS REAL. Candie, Ark, whatever ship name you would like to provide the two,t hey were perfect for each other. Clark was just the happiest, most hilarious fictional boyfriend of any heroine and I just loved how awkward he was and how quickly he did become comfortable with Andie.

Cheers to the father-daughter relationship and how Matson keeps implanting the fact that Andie’s life isn’t perfect. I must admit, I hated Andie’s dad for the first half of the book, but he kept making me smile and laugh. I have to praise that precious relationship, you know?

“We said our good-byes and headed out shortly after that. I got into the Mustang, running my hand over the steering wheel for just a moment before checking the time and realizing I had to get going. There was someone I needed to meet” (516).

So at times, this book dragged. It became boring and I just wanted that boring phase to get by before the good stuff came around. There were those every now and then, and I honestly wanted this book to be perfect, and to be honest, it wasn’t fully. But I still loved it. IT’S TOO LONG, ALTHOUGH I LOVE MORGAN’S WRITING. If this were fantasy… that’d be a different story.

If only I had a summer like this… *sighs* Cheers to dogs, Bertie, romance, pizza, scavenger hunts, road-trips to tell someone you love them, Diet Coke and fantasy novels! As always, I am so impressed with Morgan Matson’s work and this is the reason why I read contemporary-romance: to get in a specific mood. Now? I need to go to the pool and kind of wash my brain a little because it hurts. Five-hundred-and-seventeen pages in a row (basically) does hurt your head.

The Rose and the Dagger

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My fellow Caliphs and Caliphas, the story of Shahrzad and Khalid is actually over. Thinking about the fact that I will never be able to see a new cover being released for this series, or that I will never be able to hold the two books in the duology as if they were new and as if I never heard of them before just cracks my heart in half. All in all, The Rose and the Dagger is beautiful, electrifying and gives me the feels once more. I’ve been waiting a year (or so) to read this sequel, and I actually just discovered that it’s a duology (well, before I read this) so I had so much rage in me. Looking back at the ending and how Ahdieh, as always, unfolded everything and answered all of us readers’ questions, I am truly satisfied. This couldn’t have ended in a better way.

I loved this; don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t as good as the first book. I initially predicted that I would rate this five stars, because the first book changed me in more ways than I would ever expect (especially with how I look at the high fantasy genre), but this book was weaker in a few ways. Listen, I have always loved the characters, romance and ideas/themes that Ahdieh presented. My love for those book characteristics never changed or diminished. Shazi and Khalid are still my favourite couple in the entire universe, their characters/personalities as a whole are so fearless and strong, more strong than most books’ characters have, and I have always loved the setting of the desert and Khorasan and basically… everything. 

Before I get to the positives, I feel that it is best to speak about the issues. This book didn’t feel as put-together or as wholly as the previous novel, or how I would like a book to feel. Yes, our questions were answered and it turned out pretty great, but the book felt so (it’s hard to describe honestly) stiff. There were parts where I was bored (especially through the middle) and I constantly felt this tension that a random war would pop up in the midst of the story (which it kind of did/didn’t) and I was waiting for that. Also, I would have appreciated more Khalid/Shazi moments, but it is completely understandable how they had to part ways for a huge portion of the story because of the events/curse that got in their way. Also, what happened with that curse?

“You continue to wound me, you awful girl. Because I know. Had I spent a single night with you, I would never have wished for us to be parted from that day forward” (66).

As you may have known, Khalid’s curse is a large theme of book one because this affects his relationship between him and Shazi, and how the world around him looks at him, his reputation. I can’t really pinpoint what the goal of this book was. Question-answering, absolutely, romantic development, sure, but the curse was rarely mentioned and there was hardly any fantasy magical things occurring. Listen, I am not your diehard fan of spells and whatnot, but I love the way Renée approaches it, and that barely occurred. Yeah, we see Shazi experimenting with her magic carpet, but that was only a short instant. Those were the issues I spotted.

Now, to the positives, because there were a ton. I loved how Ahdieh reminded readers of who was who, what meant what, and where the characters were in terms of time and setting. I didn’t feel like re-reading the first novel because (A) my TBR pile is huge and (B) I had no time to prepare myself for the sequel so I just bought it. Thank you, Renée! I seriously needed that recap. This novel takes place right from where the first left us off. Each character is basically in a different place, and we feel this tension when Shazi and Khalid are trying to find each other.

As always, Ahdieh has handled the perspectives well. I’ve enjoyed her writing of this series because it’s written in third-person perspectives. Therefore, we could easily discover who Ahdieh is writing about because their names are mentioned. I loved every character, their rivals and their relationships.

Shahrzad is as fearless, strong and kick-ass as always. Since the time I read The Wrath and the Dawn, Shazi has resided as my favourite heroine in all of YA and in all of every single book I have ever read. I love her independence, how she doesn’t need someone by her side to get the job done. There are many scenes where she goes to find something/someone, and she goes on her own, secretly.

“When I was in the desert, I woke each day and carried on with my life, but it wasn’t living; it was merely existing. I want to live. You are where I live” (173).

BUT GUYS WE HAVE A NEW STAR CHARACTER. Irsa, Shazi’s younger sister! I adore sister relationships because they can only remind me of my relationship with my own sister. Ahdieh introduces Shazi’s character in the first chapter, and she remains an important part of this sequel because she is always by her sister and would do anything to save her, even though she is younger. We even see her fall in love, confess her deepest worries to people that we would never expect her to, and most importantly, we see a huge character development. She’s amazing.

KHALID AND TARIQ, MY FRIENDS. These are the hottest YA guys in all of the universe. Some people may disagree with me, but I actually liked their feud, because it made sense. They had reasons to hate each other. It’s a love triangle, people, what else do you expect?

The Rose and the Dagger was just absolute joy and greatness. I adore Renée Ahdieh’s writing so much that she is an instant-buy for me and I would sell all of my books to get a new book by her (okay, that is nuts and I don’t think I’d do that haha). This was just a perfect ending to the story and there were so many shocking moments, plot twists and the amount of suspense at the end of every chapter was astonishing. YOU’LL EXPERIENCE EVERY FEELING; I ALMOST FELL APART AT THE END because of something shocking and sad. Goodbye, Shazi and Khalid. I love you! (I’ll reread this series eventually because it’s too good)