Countdown to HEARTLESS (20 more days!!) | Review + Jest Fancast

Hello everyone,
I am so excited to take part in the special Countdown to Heartless blog tour put together by the wonderful ladies at Fierce Reads. Heartless was one of my most anticipated books of 2016 and after reading it I just have to say: it was worth the wait.

Actually, I have more words to say about Heartless because I'll be sharing my thoughts about it, and if you scroll all the way to the bottom, I'll have some info about all the exciting things that are happening as we countdown to Heartless. You guys, 20 MORE DAYS!!!

Hardcover: 464 pages
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release Date: November 8, 2016
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: standalone
Long before she was the terror of Wonderland — the infamous Queen of Hearts — she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the yet-unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend and supply the Kingdom of Hearts with delectable pastries and confections. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next Queen.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the king's marriage proposal, she meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship.

Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

I finished this book a couple of days ago and I'm still not over it.
First off, I'm not an Alice fan. Alice in Wonderland is one my least favorite of the Disney films (I only saw parts of the animated version and none of the live action movies) and everything I know about Alice I learned from the Disney movies. The whole thing was too quirky, too whimsical, too strange, too nonsensical for my tastes. But, because Heartless is written by Marissa Meyer, of course I had to pick it up. I'm so, so glad I did because I ended up loving it!

Since I tend to avoid anything Alice, I knew very little going into Heartless. I can list maybe five Alice characters at the top of my head and the only two things I know about the Queen of Hearts is her catchphrase "off with their heads!" and the fact that she crazy

Even if you share my indifference for Lewis Carroll's quirky tale, do not let Heartless pass you by. Yes, Meyer did stay close to the source material in terms of the world and the characters, but at the same time reading about them, getting to know them (especially the future Queen of Hearts), and learning what or who influenced them to become their familiar future selves gives me a whole new appreciation for Alice in Wonderland I didn't have before. I was also surprised to find that I really enjoyed the Wonderland world in Heartless. Yes, it was quirky and whimsical, but I found it kinda fun instead of weird. Then again I wasn't picturing as a weirdly psychedelic world like it was in the Disney animated movie.

We follow 17-year-old Lady Catherine "Cath" Pinkerton, the future Queen of Hearts, and we learn that she loves to bake pastries and confections, and her greatest dream is to open a shop with her best friend and maid Mary Anne. Her mother, however, had another plan for her: marrying the King of Hearts and becoming queen. But, Cath doesn't want to marry a man she does not love--she dreams of owning a bakery and maybe romance with someone of her choosing, but mostly owning a bakery and creating the most delectable sweets, which was her passion. She found the king a silly buffoon and the last thing she wanted was to be queen of Hearts. Then, she meets the mysterious new court joker, Jest, and finds herself falling in love for the first time. 

I liked Cath's character and felt for her right away, but I tried to distance myself (unsuccessfully!) because we all know she eventually becomes the holy terror of Wonderland--this is what we're moving towards, not the typical happily ever after. I kept reading on with trepidation and it eventually things do come to a head. Although I hoped there was going to be some twist that will turn things around and Cath will get the happily ever after that I wanted so badly for her, it was not to be. Heartless is the Queen of Hearts's origin story, and my heart broke for Catherine. 

I have to say though that initially I was a little disappointed because I was expecting something similar to the Lunar Chronicles where the author takes certain elements from the source material and she twists them to make them her own. It wasn't like that with Heartless. Unlike the Lunar Chronicles series, this book stuck really close to the source material--since I'm not familiar with the source material, I did have to do some googling--and Heartless could be an actual prequel to Alice in Wonderland. And, if you're a fan of Alice, you'll appreciate all the source material references, quotes, and easter eggs more than I did--most really just flew over my head. However, if you're like me, not knowing the original Alice in Wonderland story won't deter your enjoyment of the novel. It didn't mine--I really loved this book!

Whether you're a fan of Alice or not, I really think it's best to just pick up Heartless without knowing much of its plot and just discover how all the things unravel on your own. Although this was not an issue for me, the pacing is slower here than in Meyer's previous books and there are not as many action scenes until the very end. However, do expect an excellently written book that will grip you and tear you apart all at once. Highly recommended!

Part of the Countdown to Heartless tour is the daily challenges. Today's challenge is: Who do you think would be the perfect Jest? Share for today's #HeartlessCountdown!

Jest is the mysterious new court joker who Cath dreamed about even before meeting him. He's described as having unruly curly hair and yellow eyes. Of course, the first person that came to mind is my current favorite curly haired hottie: Aidan Turner (because I'm obsessed with Poldark!)

Okay, so maybe Aidan Turner is too old to be Jest. So, my other pick is Robert Sheehan.
Robert has light green eyes and if you kind of squint they're almost yellow. He also has that mischievous elfin-ish face that I picture Jest having. Imagine Robert Sheehan, dressed in black with a 3-point hat on his head and Raven on his shoulder. He's Jest, am I right?

If you've had a chance to read Heartless, let me know who your fancast is for Jest.

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