How to Build A Heart by Maria Padian – #eARC #BookReview

Goodreads: How to Build A Heart
Publish date: 28 January 2020
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Panda Rating:

All sixteen-year-old Izzy Crawford wants is to feel like she really belongs somewhere. Her father, a marine, died in Iraq six years ago, and Izzy’s moved to a new town nearly every year since, far from the help of her extended family in North Carolina and Puerto Rico. When Izzy’s hardworking mom moves their small family to Virginia, all her dreams start clicking into place. She likes her new school—even if Izzy is careful to keep her scholarship-student status hidden from her well-to-do classmates and her new athletic and popular boyfriend. And best of all: Izzy’s family has been selected by Habitat for Humanity to build and move into a brand-new house. Izzy is this close to the community and permanence she’s been searching for, until all the secret pieces of her life begin to collide.

How to Build a Heart is the story of Izzy’s journey to find her place in the world and her discovery that the choices we make and the people we love ultimately define us and bring us home.

There were elements to this that I really enjoyed and really didn’t enjoy. The start hooked me in quickly but around the 30% mark I started to struggle with our main character Izzy, and I found myself only wanting to read the story in small doses. I’m glad I pushed through though because I ended up really liking the new characters that were introduced further on, and most importantly how Izzy’s story ended. I obviously knew that this book wouldn’t have an unhappy ending but it was, for the most part, a very satisfying end to a story full of teenage angst and struggles. Padian delivered a sincere story about family, friendships, finding yourself and understanding where your heart belongs. Some content warnings include: (cyber) bullying, depression, racism, and physical abuse.

Surprisingly, what I enjoyed the least was the portrayal of one of the main friendships. Also, the character that I started out liking the most, ended up being the character I felt most frustrated towards for the majority of the story, and unfortunately that was our MC, Izzy. To me it was clear as day from early on how Izzy’s actions would spiral and end up exploding into exactly what happened in the story, and it filled me with such angst. I couldn’t help wanting to shake sense into Izzy and to tell her to stop lying and digging an even bigger hole for herself. I didn’t like Roz at the start and thought she wasn’t a great influence but I also felt that her character deserved better considering that she also didn’t have it easy (something that even Izzy attested to). While I’m not saying what Roz did in the story was okay, I really didn’t like how Izzy ended up treating their friendship; especially as she claimed Roz was the only one who knew the truth about her and was the only person that understood the “real” her. Although their friendship was more or less mended at the end, I personally didn’t think it was a very satisfying resolution and I felt that Roz deserved better than Izzy’s lack of apology and brushing over for her own selfish reasons.

That said, I thought the cultural representation was very well done. That’s the aspect I related to the most in the story and it’s the reason why I requested it in the first place. I appreciated the author’s note at the start about how she came to write this story and how much of her own experiences went into forming Izzy’s character and relationship with her mixed heritage. Although I’m not of mixed heritage, growing up outside of my own country made it difficult for me to connect and relate to a lot my Indonesian heritage and extended family. Izzy’s limited understanding of her Puerto Rican heritage and the language was a struggle that hit close to home. The most satisfying part of ‘How to Build A Heart’ was the growth that Izzy experienced in regards to her identity and when she finally stood proud of who she is.

I also have to mention that there were some really great side characters like Mark and Betts who I adored, not to mention the warmth of the Shackleton family, and the rallying support behind the Habitat for Humanity house building. There were only a few Habitat scenes and they were mostly at the end but they filled me up with such warmth and happiness. I used to volunteer for Habitat in high school and it’s such a truly rewarding experience!

The more I let this story sink in the more satisfied I am with how it went. There was a lot more depth in many aspects of the story than I expected and it was such a pleasant surprise. Yes, Izzy made some very questionable decisions throughout but then again I have to remind myself that she’s a teenager. and I’m certainly no stranger to making similarly bad decisions when I was her age (and even when older–oops)! It’s all a part of growing up and her character certainly did that at the end. I think many young adults who read this will be able to relate to and enjoy it!

Thanks to NetGalley and Algonquin Young Readers for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. This book is now available!
Have you read How to Build A Heart? Is it on your TBR?

#WWWWednesday: 29 January

Welcome back to another episode of WWW Wednesday, a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World of Words, which means I’ll be answering these questions:

  1. What did you read last?
  2. What are you currently reading?
  3. What will you read next?

Well, finally my “just finished reading” pile is looking a little bit more lively than earlier on in the month and lookie! That’s three e-ARCs done and dusted 🥳 I’ve been whining a lot about how sick I’ve been lately but being cooped up in the hotel room meant I was able to read more than I expected to!

The Toll (Arc of a Scythe #3) by Neal Shusterman ★★★★☆
This conclusion went in a direction that I didn’t expect but it was wholly satisfying! I wish that the original characters, Citra and Rowan, got way more face-time than they did in this conclusion, but I did appreciate the new POVs that we’re introduced to. I was particularly fond of Jericho! All the pressing questions were answered and Shusterman ends it in such a way that short spin-offs can be made in the future! Check out my full review here.

(e-ARC) Manga Classics: The Count of Monte Cristo by Stacy King, Crystal S. Chan ★★★★½
The Count of Monte Cristo is one heckuva intimidating tome but after reading this manga classic I’m very eager to pick up the original novel! King & Chan did an amazing job at condensing a complex story into a 400-page manga, while still retaining the essence of the story and presenting it in a clear and logical order. Would highly recommend reading this if you’re intimidated by the original! Check out my full review here.

(e-ARC) Bitter Falls (Stillhouse Lake #4) by Rachel Caine ★★★½
Bitter Falls was a fast-paced and action-packed story full of what we’ve come to expect from Caine in this series — there’s family drama, an intriguing mystery, lots of killing, explosions and near-death experiences, and a somewhat happy ending. This was an enjoyable continuation of the Stillhouse Lake series but after reading this, I think my time with Gwen and her familia has run its course. The continuing over-the-top drama seems just a little too unbelievable for me now. Check out my full review here.

Spin the Dawn (The Blood of Stars #1) by Elizabeth Lim ★★★★½
Why did I wait so long to read this one? I don’t know but I was definitely surprised by how much I enjoyed it! While it wasn’t perfect there was certainly a lot to love (imo). I didn’t think I would get so attached to Maia and Edan but I really did and I was a solid shipper! What I did want was a better understanding of the magic though. Also, I’m gutted that I didn’t double check the release date for book two because now I must suffer waiting until July?! Check out my full review here.

(e-ARC) How to Build A Heart by Maria Padian ★★★★☆
The more I let this book sink in I realise I enjoyed it more than I didn’t. Does that sound weird? Maybe. I had some issues with the MC, Izzy, and how one of the main friendships was treated and while I wasn’t 100% pleased with the resolution of that conflict I also recognise that her character experiences satisfying growth by the end. She made questionable decisions but she’s also a teenager and I know I wasn’t immune to making more than my fair share of those! I thought the cultural representation was well done and was the most enjoyable aspect of the story for me. Padian delivers a sincere and well-written coming of age story full of family, friendships, finding yourself and learning where your heart belongs. Review coming very soon!

Continue reading “#WWWWednesday: 29 January”

#WWWWednesday: 22 January

Welcome back to another episode of WWW Wednesday, a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World of Words, which means I’ll be answering these questions:

  1. What did you read last?
  2. What are you currently reading?
  3. What will you read next?

I’ve only finished ONE BOOK since last Wednesday! ONE BOOK! 🙈And it was a re-read too! To say that January is a slow reading month would be a gross understatement. I’m really hoping things pick up next month…

Thunderhead (Arc of a Scythe #2) by Neal Shusterman ★★★★☆
Now that I’m done with my re-read with Thunderhead I feel more than ready for The Toll. Thunderhead was (imo) a slow moving sequel but it was no less enjoyable. I loved learning more about The Thunderhead and the new important character we’re introduced to, Grayson Tolliver, really grew on me. We got to explore more areas of the world including Israebia, a neglected D.C., and Endura which is the heart of the Scythedom. Although the shock factor wasn’t as intense this second time, the plot twists still had me exclaiming my WTFs. Shusterman really knows how to throw you off! You can read my full review here.

Continue reading “#WWWWednesday: 22 January”

#WWWWednesday: 15 January

Welcome back to another episode of WWW Wednesday, a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World of Words, which means I’ll be answering these questions:

  1. What did you read last?
  2. What are you currently reading?
  3. What will you read next?

I don’t know what’s going on so far this year but I’m not reading half as much as I’d normally do. Since last Wednesday I’ve only managed to finish two books and one was a eARC of a graphic novel that I read yesterday. I finally finished my re-read of Scythe and contrary to what my slow reading pace would indicate, I did enjoy it just as much as the first time I read it.

Scythe (Arc of a Scythe #1) by Neal Shusterman ★★★★½
Like I said, I loved this re-read. The world building blew me away and the characters really grew on me. I thought it would be difficult to imagine a world where mortality is a thing of the past but Shusterman builds it up nicely and we learn more about it through chapters split with journal entries and various POVs. My little twisted cinnamon roll, Rowan, is by far my favorite character but I loved Scythes Faraday and Curie almost as much! I loved that Shusterman makes you think about how maybe immortality isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Check out my full review!

(eARC) Doctor Mirage (2019) by Magdalene Visaggio, Nick Robles ★★★★☆
I’ve never actually read a superhero comic and maybe that’s why I enjoyed this one so much. The name Doctor Mirage rang a small bell in my head but I really went into it blind and not knowing what to expect. I loved the illustration style and colour combination of the story; much of our time in the other world felt a bit like what I’d imagine an acid trip would be like! 🤣 There was a slight cliffhanger of an ending to continue the series but this can also be read as a standalone as the main conflict and storyline was nicely resolved. Review coming soon!

Continue reading “#WWWWednesday: 15 January”