Cover Image: House of Glass Hearts

House of Glass Hearts

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House of Glass Hearts is in a split timeline. In the current timeline Maera, a Pakistani American along with her mother, are in denial about what happened to her older brother Asad ten years ago in Pakistan. They refuse to discuss or talk about it. Following the death of her grandfather, the greenhouse which was in his backyard in Pakistan, mysteriously materializes in Maera's backyard. Most of her grandfather- Haroon's story during the Second World War and India's partition is narrated through his diary. His runaway trip to Calcutta, his love for Shah Jehan and his encounter with the supernatural were all meticulously recorded in his journal. 

After a long time, I have delved into young adult fiction. Though House of Glass Hearts did not disappoint me completely, it was not something I expected. It started on a good note and the build-up was great. I enjoyed Haroon's story more than Maera's as it had a more realistic feel to it. Maera at times came across as annoying and the current timeline seemed needlessly stretched. Haroon's story set during the partition of India drew me in. The author has done an accurate and vivid description of the bloodshed and the violence during the partition. But the plot lost its steam towards the end and the narrative got muddled. Too much was happening at once and it got complicated. Leila Siddiqui had beautifully blended myth, fantasy with history. She has incorporated the myths widespread during the said era in the story and it fits in perfectly.
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I was fortunate to receive an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley.

“House of Glass Hearts” is a story of family secrets, violent history, and discovering fantastical truths. Maera and her mother are still reeling from the disappearance of Maera’s brother, Asad, in Pakistan ten years prior. After Maera’s grandfather dies, a giant greenhouse appears in Maera’s backyard, prompting Maera, her cousin, her best friend, and Asad’s childhood friend to investigate and uncover what really happened to their family decades ago in India. At times confusing, it was still a unique storyline that incorporated fantastical creatures and history.
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In a Nutshell: Full marks for the creativity of the plot but the writing needed more finesse.

While on vacation at their grandfather’s house in Pakistan, Maera’s elder brother Asad mysteriously disappeared leaving no clue at all about his whereabouts. Now, ten years later, Maera and her mother live a dull life in the US, making no mention of the past. However, when her grandfather’s derelict greenhouse makes a sudden appearance in their backyard, Maera is forced to confront the past and venture into the secrets this glass house holds, with the help of her cousin Jimmy, best friend Sara and neighbour Rob. What horrors await them therein? Is all this connected anyway with Asad? Read and find out.

I really, really wanted to like this book. I expected to love it, in fact. With that vivid cover, interesting title and fascinating blurb, the only way it could have gone wrong was in its writing. And I regret to say, the writing/editing is where the book needed more work. 

Don’t get me wrong. The plot is absolutely mind-blowing. The way the author weaves in factual horrors such as the bloodshed and politico-religious turmoil during the Indian partition of 1947 with fantastical horrors is splendid. I wasn’t expecting horror elements to be part of this story, and that too horror with such a strong Indian feel. (No spoilers, but readers from the Indian subcontinent will find a familiar horror entity in this book. It adds to the fun.)  I loved the use of the Urdu words sprinkled in the narrative unabashedly, and without any meanings given in brackets. It added so much authenticity to the cultural point of view.

The story is written from two broad perspectives:  that of Maera in the present USA and of her grandfather during the 1940s India/Pakistan. This makes for an interesting contrast of narratives. I enjoyed the historical narrative much better as there was more meat to it. The 1940s atmosphere is pretty well written and accurate, bringing the past alive. The present timeline was quite bland in comparison except at the very end. 

On the other hand, the characters are pretty unidimensional. I didn’t empathise with most of them even when they were supposedly going through such a huge trauma. There are many character-based loopholes in the plot. Some are merely revolving door characters, coming and going as per the need of the plot. I didn’t understand the need for a romantic arc between two of the characters. It is just there because it’s there. There’s no build-up to it, and there’s no requirement for it in the plot. 

For a debut work, I am pretty impressed with the author’s imagination. All that is needed is a little fine-tuning in the writing and I’m sure she will have a bright future ahead of her.  I must say, she won my heart with this particular paragraph in her author’s note: 
"History is often a series of causalities. There are enormous implications for what colonization did to my ancestors and their Hindu and Sikh neighbors and brethren. And so, perhaps within these pages is a silent plea that instead of taking sides against our own people, our neighbors across the border, we should recognize and work to heal from the horrors of Imperialism."

My best regards to this new writer; I’ll certainly keep her future books on my radar. I just wish this book had worked out better for me. If you wish to try an interesting debut writer and/or a horror story based on the factual-cum-fictional history of India, do give it a try.

3.25 stars.

My thanks to Yali Books and NetGalley for the ARC of the book in exchange for an honest review.
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I've never really taken on reading magic realism before, so I was quite reluctant when I saw this book but the plot seemed too interesting not to pick it up. I must say that I was not disappointed one bit. The element of magic in the story left me (and the characters) feeling eerie and always on my toes. Anything could happen at this point and we didn't know much about the House. We follow a group of South-Asian teenagers and a neighbor and friend of the family into this adventure and mystery for which we gather clues through knowledge acquired about Indian-Pakistani History in WWII. As someone who is not South-Asian, I found the historic and cultural elements so interesting and I must say that I absolutely have to learn more about the Churail.
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Thank you NetGalley for an advanced copy. This story was hard to put down, and it gives and interesting perspective on World War II and Partition. It tells a story of family, love, and survival. The magic in this story is unlike anything you have read, and the Pakistani supernatural Churail are terrifyingly interesting. I REALLY wish the one expletive was excluded, as the novel was relatively clean without it. The romance is subdued, which helped to not take away from the story.  I will still recommend this book for the high school library for multicultural studies.
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I received this arc as a part of the Bookstagram tour by lonelypagesbooktours.

Synopsis: Maera, a Pakistani American teen is baffled by the sudden appearance of her dead grandfather's derelict greenhouse from Pakistan at their American backyard. Since then she believes that the greenhouse has the solution to all her life 's unanswered puzzles including her siblings' sudden disappearance.

Review: This mystical tale is set in the backdrop of one of the most turbulent periods  of Indian history- the partition of colonial India into today's  India and  Pakistan.  As the tale unfolds , we get to relive moments of anguish, poignant young love and woes of separation through the eyes of a teen. I loved the way the author has interwoven folklore and history . Even though I'm fully aware of my history, there were moments in the book where I almost whimpered. The writing is so beautiful , that I've highlighted many quotes while reading this weird magical tale. To all my Indian friends and Pakistani neighbors across the border, this is not only a story of our separation , but  also of our togetherness. I would love to elaborate more on the book, but I'm afraid that I may give away the spoilers. Let me just sum up with this: this is one of those tales that would always be a part of you. 

Cons: This book may not be everyone's cup of tea, but you'll definitely love this if you  are fan of weird magical stories.
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House of Glass Hearts tells a story of Maera, a girl whose dealing with grief since losing her older brother, Asad a few years ago until a mysterious green house suddenly appear in her backyard.
The mysterious appearance made her curious enough to go and investigate the place with Maera's best friend, Sara, Maera's cousin, Jimmy and Asad's old best friend, Rob.
While Maera was investigating the place, she also has to face the creature living inside the greenhouse to find out what really happen the night Asad went missing and what it has to do with Maera's grandfather past. 

The plot is actually pretty interesting. The emotions in this story especially about grief are pretty well written. The addition of  mythical legend creature is also a good touch to the story and I love reading about folklores from other countries. 
I also enjoy reading the chapters with Maera's grandfather POV when he was a boy. It was shocking and heart breaking. It also made me learn something new about the World War II with the Indians and Muslims that I never knew before. 

Despite all of that, I do have a problem with the pacing of this story. I was struggling to read the first half of the book because the pacing was so slow. Then, in the last 30% of the book the pacing suddenly pick up. Everything just happens way too fast, it feels like I didn't have the chance to process what happen and I have to reread some of the pages to understand.    
Not to mention, the romance between Maera and Rob is just weird. It feels like love at first sight and I have to admit I am not really a fan of it. 

Overall, this is a pretty good read. I love the touch of Pakistani historical and cultural elements, the ending is heart warming and heart breaking at the same time. I would have given this a higher rating if the pacing was faster with the teen romance excluded from the story.
Nonetheless, I have a good time reading this book and I am looking forward to other books from this author!

A big thank you to Netgalley, Leila Siddiqui and Yali Books for the digital ARC in return for an honest review.
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This story was told in alternating point of views across a timeline. We follow Maera, in present day, and also see from her grandfather’s perspective from his youth days. This could potentially be confusing for readers, though I didn’t have any issues with it. I did find that at certain points, I only cared for one perspective and towards the end, I was more invested in Maera’s arc and not the past timeline.

The plot for this book is my favourite part. It’s twisted and brilliant. Full of culture, myths and wonder. There were some parts that I found jarring and confusing. I wished they had been better explained and more fleshed out but I still appreciated the concept.

I loved learning about Pakistani culture and there were some elements that I recognised. It felt real and relatable.

I did struggle with the pacing. For the first 60-70%, I wasn’t that invested. It started off slowly and there wasn’t much happening. After the 70% mark, the pacing really picked up. Like really. So much so, that some things happened too quickly.

There was a small romance sub plot, that for once, I didn’t care about. It didn’t add anything to the story for me. Maera has a crush on a boy named Rob, who she hasn’t interacted with in years. And suddenly he comes back into her life and this really intense romance is introduced out of the blue. There were some sentences that I just found strange. It pulled me out of the story. I can’t remember what the exact words were, but it involved ‘feasting her eyes’ on Rob.

The characters did feel a little flat, and one dimensional. With the exception of Shah Jehan. She was my favourite. I loved that we touched on women empowerment as she was so brave in such a ‘man’s world’.

The ending was incredible. I was really happy with how it wrapped up. This brought the book up in rating. It tied everything together and I liked how all the pieces that were set up through both timelines fell into piece. It was really satisfying.

I would recommend this for readers who enjoy historical fiction and stories full of culture. If you’re looking for a fast paced book, this probably isn’t for you.
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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the eARC of this book in return for a fair review!

House of Glass Hearts follows Maera, a Pakistani-American teenager, and her mother, and the events after the sudden appearance of the greenhouse from Maera's grandfather's house. I rated this book five stars and really enjoyed reading the book, and some of the scenes towards the end were absolutely heart-wrenching. I've posted the full review, with spoilers, on my blog :)

The book is split between what's happening in America with Maera, and the events of her grandfather's diary entries during the Second World War. I really liked how this was done and the way both perspectives were woven together at the end was incredible. Everything that happened in the ending fit really well into the story, especially since the book is told in the way it is, which makes the jumps between the events in World War Two and what's happening in the greenhouse more dramatic. 

The differences between chapters and their timelines were also a really cool way to show how divided The Past and the present, and how characters' experiences change the present. The differences in time between the real world and inside the greenhouse was also awesome, and I feel like I'm just saying how much I liked different parts of the book. However, I did give this book five stars so I don't have anything negative to say.

I was rooting for the characters and wanted them to succeed and get happy endings, and the book flew by.

Overall, I would really recommend this book, especially if you're looking for South Asian book recommendations, and I can't wait to see what Leila Siddiqui writes in the future!
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A unique take on Afghan fiction, moving between WW2 and the present makes for an enchanting read that will appeal to all ages.
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I've been reading a lot of Afghan and Afghan American fiction lately, so I was looking forward to Leila Siddiqui's House of Glass Hearts, which moves between Afghanistan during WWII and the present day U.S. The more recent timeline involves Maera and her Ammi, who are attempting to bury a traumatic and menacing past. The WWII timeline involves the youth of Meara's Anaana and horrors—both fantastic and real-world—that he faced.

This title has received a good bit of praise on GoodReads, but didn't work for me. The praise has focused on what the novel can teach about Afghan history and legend, the strength of the central character Meara, the two-timeline structure the author uses, and the power of the fantasy elements. Given how well the novel has worked for others, I'm giving it a three-star review.

I'd been anticipating a novel with a touch of magical realism, but not a full-on fantasy/horror novel, and kept wanting to know more about the book's characters without that extra layer added. It also read to me like a young adult title. There's nothing wrong with YA books, but that wasn't what I was looking for.

If you enjoy fantasy/horror, you will probably love this book and appreciate what it can teach you about Afghan history and legend.

I received a free electronic review copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley; the opinions are my own.
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<i><blockquote>The country I thought I knew was a grownup's plaything, a toy that they passed back and forth until it crumbled into pieces in their rough palms.</blockquote></i> 

I really wanted to like this more, the description and the plot sounds like something right up my alley. Following the death of her grandfather, a greenhouse randomly appears in Maera's backyard. Maera is convinced that her brother, who went missing many years ago, is inside the mysterious greenhouse. Doesn't that sound like just the perfect blend of mystery and magical realism? And it is, it's got the backbone right there and it would be working, had the book been aimed at pre-teens instead of "young adults".  

The writing, the dialogue, and the character dynamics all feel like that of a children's book, to be honest. The characters are all 17 (I think? or older?) yet they act much younger and the dialogue lacks the nuance of more grown up conversations. The lines they're saying seem extremely disjointed, they don't really flow from one another and they kill any kind of plot development for no reason. It's like a character says (and I'm paraphrasing an example, this isn't a line or sequence in the book): "we have to go into the greenhouse" and that's followed by "you have to tell your mother about college" followed by "let's sleep" followed by "I remember when he went missing" and it all feels extremely unnatural and robotic. 

There were elements I liked her, I liked the concept and I liked the backstory and the historic context of the India/Pakistan partition but I really felt that the author (or the publishers) did the story a disservice by not focusing on making it a children's story because as "adult" or even "young adult" fiction, it's severely lacking.
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Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC of this book. 

This was the story of Maera and her family mixed in with a healthy dose of magic and fantasy. I loved the premise of the book but it took me a while to really get into the book and get used to the rhythm of the story. 
The story was good and held my interest, it was especially good for this being the authors debut novel. I loved that colonial era India was discussed in the book. 

All in all, it was an okay enough read that I'd recommend to beginner readers as the pace of this book relatively slow. 

Rating : 3 ⭐
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I want to thank NetGalley and Yali Books Publishing for my advance copy of House of Glass Hearts. It’s publishing month for Leila Siddiqui’s debut novel rich in Pakistani history and lore. An atmospheric, souls-stirring tale filled with family secrets, war, love, and loss. 

5/5 House of Glass Hearts is a fantastic debut novel and a fantastic read. The way the author blended magic, lore, and history was truly beautiful. I am personally not very familiar with Pakistani history, so this was a lovely educational experience since I went down a rabbit hole learning about the Partition of India into what we know now as present-day India and Pakistan. I also went down a rabbit hole reading about some of the lore to better understand and appreciate the story. I loved this story; it was eerie, mysterious, and magical while simultaneously heart-wrenching and filled with heartache and loss due to war and the devastation it leaves for the generations to come. I love non-linear timelines and having to piece the story together little by little like a puzzle. The story jumps back and forth from present-day America to 1940’s Colonial India via journal entries left behind by Maera’s grandfather, Haroon. And the author did a fantastic job at seamlessly transporting the reader back and forth. Siddiqui also did a beautiful job with the plot, gripping me deeper into the story, and she wrote in such a way that I felt deeply the pain Haroon experienced as he saw his country be torn apart by war and religious intolerance. The writing was truly heartfelt and the author’s notes on the story were beautiful and insightful. Honestly, this was such a powerful and poignant novel. I loved this book, and I recommend everyone to pick it up when it it releases on September 29th.
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First thank you so much to Netgalley for providing me with a digital arc.

Trigger warning for this contains violence, trauma, war and death.

The House of Glass Hearts talks about the tale of Maera, who one day lost her brotber during their visit to Pakistan. Years has passed and a mysterious greenhouse appeared after the death of her grandfather. The greenhouse is the same one where her brother disappeared to. Maera thinks that her brother disappearance is caused by the greenhouse and she willing to do anything to get him back. This is a haunting story filled with both scenarios from the past and present alike. 

The combination of historical fiction and fantasy on this one is outstanding. It cultured filled as well because it tells the life of people during the war and how they cope up with it. The history of Pakistan and India is terrifying when I read about it but it also serves as an eye opener when you realized how they are treated before for the things they didn't even do. 

The plot was something I did not expect as well. It had me shocked to my core. Reading this was unpredictable and had you hooked the moment the start reliving the past life of their grandfather. The romance on this one is just mindblowing and I don't to say anymore of it because I don't to spoil anything.

I am not a fan of the main protagonist though I felt that Maera is probably the densest one in the whole book but I think if I am in her situation I would be the same especially if I want to save someone I love. 

Overall I gave this a 4/5 just the fact that things escalated real fast to the point that I had a hard time coping up with it on the first chapters.
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The first few pages of this novel suck you in. The author describes the scene so perfectly and ends it so abruptly, that the reader cannot stop themselves from reading on.

The only real I have regarding this novel are that once the initial stage is set and we are introduced to Maera, the writing gets a little clumsy. I felt that the novel was being pushed to where it needed to go, and while it did a job, it was difficult to get through.

But! If you read it and feel the same way, please hold on. The rest of this story is woven so intricately. Every thought and feeling, every landscape is handed to the reader. The author weaves the details so well that you hardly know it’s happening. The focus is never off the actual plot for too long and yet no detail is lost. 

The characters are brought together, again somewhat too quickly and conveniently, but it pulls the plot along. There is a fair bit of teenage angst in the novel, which barely detracts from the storyline. Other than that, I felt that every single character that is introduced to the reader is introduced for a reason and is therefore multifaceted and interesting and brings something with them.

I am always a little wary of narratives that switch between characters. Especially characters that don’t interact, and especially when the narratives transcend decades. However, the author is a natural. It is never confusing, and both feed into the other perfectly. 

I would definitely recommend this book, and am considering rereading it already.
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This book was enjoyable. Even though it was slow paced, I enjoyed it. I loved seeing the representation in the book and also liked the magical parts. Maera is a little irritating character and I liked the other parallel story better but nonetheless a book I would reccomend.
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Rating: 3.5/5

House of glass hearts was as enjoyable read! It's a story that follows Maera our main character as she navigates the torrid waters of her family's loss and grief all while figuring out why a mysterious greenhouse has appeared in her backyard.

The story is told in a dual timeline and in all honesty Maera's point of view was not the best of the two 😬 I found her grandfather's timeline so much more enjoyable. Maera tended to be a little annoying at times.

I learned so much about colonial India reading this book , it's always wonderful seeing representation in literature. 

The slight use of magic was such a fun addition to the story. The only downfall would be the slow pace of this book, but nevertheless it was an enjoyable read!

The authors note at the end had me in all the feels !!
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I enjoyed reading this book experiencing the two time perspectives.

The story of Maera and her grandfathers are told seperately and I found myself enjoying the rich history of his life and Pakistani history moreso than Maera's story. The magical touches made it special.

I did find overall it was slow paced and only really picked up towards the end.

Disclosure: Thank you to NetGalley for the opportunity to read this in exchange for an honest review.
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So basically haunted greenhouse with demons sprinkled in 👀 I've gotta say this was a fun ride! 

The book has two pov's one is our mc maera and the other is from the past before she was even born. I definitely loved the second one more because I found maera to be really infuriating and annoying :) I also loved how much history this book has. Those parts were just heart wrenching.

The book was actually a little spooky, there were a couple of thrilling moments that had me sit up a little. And the descriptions really did make it eerie. 

The writing was a bit choppy but this is the arc so I don't know if it got fixed in the final print. The romance here I felt was unnecessary (in maera's pov) and one of them was so insta-lovey. I would've preferred it had they all just been good friends going on an adventure. 

The history aspect was incredible and taught me so much. The way desi myth was incorporated was very interesting too.

All in all I really do think its a worthy read, it was well done for a debut and it was a fun journey filled with a lot of unexpected turns! I do recommend this simply for the history and the language tho (I've recognised so many of their words it made me happy)

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