I apologise in advance. 😂 I took a semi-hiatus because of assignments and I ended up writing these during that hiatus so these reviews aren’t written up the standard I would usually prefer.
The Paper & Hearts Society
Rating: ★★☆☆☆ (2/5)
*I received a copy via the publisher and NetGalley in return for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.*
A young teen moved to a new town and discovered a book club that pushes her out of her comfort zone.
Honestly, this was a little disappointing, considering how positive the reviews were for this book. I really wanted to love this book, but this book was just not for me. This is a story I would say good in concept, but the execution was so bland.
I have no issues with references to certain things, but this book really overdid it with the book mentions. Like I genuinely thought this book would’ve collapsed on itself if it didn’t mention another book. Yes, this is a book about a book club. But the way it was written was definitely meant to namedrop, which I don’t have an issue with, but it just wasn’t smooth.
A majority of the book is:
Tabby/ Anyone else: Oh, wow. I love [book title] by [author]! Spends a couple of lines on how great it is.
A lot of the books mentioned were prevalent Young Adult/ Contemporary novels. I understood wanting to celebrate UKYA, but I found myself rolling my eyes a lot of it because it was so just so cringey.
I also found the characters to be quite snobby at some points. And a lot of them act as if reading is such a weird thing that makes them different. Like, you know when people say “Am I the only one who does [something that everyone does]?” Tabby and some of the others all tends to give off that similar vibe, and it was just a little frustrating.
I’ve never watched a video of Powrie’s, but from work I’ve seen, but I can definitely see how her own reading taste has influenced this book. It’s not a bad thing, nor am I calling her taste terrible, but I just know this is a book club I wouldn’t be joining. It all felt very forced and I couldn’t find myself to commit with any of the characters.
When Tabby’s not in the club, she’s dealing with personal issues. She has moved away from her old town, but that doesn’t stop her past from following her. I found this part of the book much better and far more interesting to read than the activities of the book club. This is where the book doesn’t fail; in my opinion, it’s rather uplifting when we can see how the book club helps Tabby. And it also showcases the danger of online bullying and toxic friendship.
Overall, I wouldn’t say this is full on terrible book. Out of the booktube crowd, it’s actually one of the better ones. But Paper & Heart’s biggest downfall was that it was trying way too hard to be a great book WITH fantastic references to other contemporary novels when it could’ve just been a great book. I don’t plan on continuing this series.
Secrets of the Henna Girl
Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)
When her family decides to take a trip to Pakistan, sixteen-year-old Zeba finds herself trapped after her father decides to marry her off to her cousin. Lost deep in family politics, Zeba has to find a way out before it’s too late.
This was a little difficult to review, especially since forced marriage plots are prevalent in books with SEA leads. But this book was quite interesting.
I hated how 2D the secondary characters were. The only people who were developed the band of friends Zeba makes but everyone else was basically caricatures of evil incarnate. Everyone who is against Zeba is simply, so honour bound and all they yell is about tradition. It was rather lacking in characterisation and felt like such a cop-out to make them ~evil~.
They’re already forcing a girl to marry against her wishes, and the way they switch between being loving parents to terrible ones was so abrupt.
I think what was great about this book is showcasing how to get help and what happens after. A lot of books with forced marriage never really delve deep into how you can get help. A lot of them mention that you can contact people who put you in contact with units designed to help. But we see Zeba reach out and how she manages to escape, and I think this could be really helpful to someone who could end up in that situation.
It’s a decent read. I wouldn’t be rushing to recommend it anytime soon, but this book does encapsulate traditional ties in modern time. It deals with a lot of heavy stuff but wasn’t exactly challenging to read. This book tries to bring some educational into the topic but making the bad guys so caricature rather than going into depth how things happen the way they do is where it falters.