Review: The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida (Clarissa Goenawan)

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Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Soho Press
Publication Date: March 10th 2020
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 278

Blurb from Goodreads:

University sophomore Miwako Sumida has hanged herself, leaving those closest to her reeling. In the months before her suicide, she was hiding away in a remote mountainside village, but what, or whom, was she running from? To Ryusei, a fellow student at Waseda; Chie, Miwako’s best friend; and Fumi, Ryusei’s older sister, Miwako was more than the blunt, no-nonsense person she projected to the world. Heartbroken, Ryusei begs Chie to take him to the village where Miwako spent her final days. While he is away, Fumi receives an unexpected guest at their shared apartment in Tokyo, distracting her from her fear that Miwako’s death may ruin what is left of her brother’s life. Expanding on the beautifully crafted world of Rainbirds, Clarissa Goenawan gradually pierces through a young woman’s careful facade, unmasking her most painful secrets.


RATING

4 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

TW: Sexual assault.

Wow, what a ride.

I really thought this book was only about universities sophomores finding love in campus, but boy I was indeed wrong. It’s more than that. It’s actually about a young woman enduring such excruciating secrets about herself.

I was really hooked from page one, as we were firstly introduced to the male protagonist in the story, Ryusei. There were three point of views in the story, firstly from Ryusei, Chie and Fumi-nee. All of the views would eventually lead to how and why Miwako Sumida lived her life that way. It was so interesting to read how each of them revealed their feelings and perspectives towards Miwako Sumida page by page, from her careful facade to unraveling her deepest secrets. They also shared on how each of them tried to understand why Miwako did that and later dealt with the aftermath of Miwako’s passing. The chapters alternated with the past and present, so we received glimpses of Miwako’s past and present life. This story was actually so sad to read as Miwako faced so much pain in her life that she swallowed all of it until the end without sharing it to anyone.

The most fascinating part in the book was from Fumi-nee point of view. In Ryusei’s POV, she was written to be such a mysterious and secretive character. However, she has a story of her own as she endured so much pain and suffering from a young age. The revelation about Miwako at the end was totally unexpected that I had to reread the previous pages a few times to confirm.

The writing was perfect and easy to follow and the main characters were really fleshed out. This book is perfect for those who love psychological mystery.

In The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida, the writer shows the exploration of grief and pain and how pain can truly cost lives. This is one of those books that will stick with you for some time. One of the best books I’ve read so far in 2020.

Thank you Pansing Books for sending me a copy of The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida in exchange of an honest review.

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Sabrina

ARC Review: Viper’s Daughter (Michelle Paver)

51638604._SX318_SY475_Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Zephyr
Publication Date: April 2nd 2020
Format: ARC Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 238

Blurb from Goodreads:

A boy. A wolf. The legend lives on.

Viper’s Daughter is the seventh book in the award-winning series that began with Wolf Brother, selling over 3 million copies in 36 territories. Like them it can be read as a standalone story.

For two summers Torak and Renn have been living in the Forest with their faithful pack-brother, Wolf. But their happiness is shattered when Renn realizes Torak is in danger – and she’s the threat.

When she mysteriously disappears, Torak and Wolf brave the Far North to find her. At the mercy of the Sea Mother and haunted by ravenous ice bears, their quest leads them to the Edge of the World. There they must face an enemy more evil than any they’ve encountered.

Viper’s Daughter plunges you back into the Stone-Age world of Torak, Renn and Wolf: a world of demons, Hidden People and exhilarating adventure which has entranced millions of readers.


RATING

2 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

I didn’t know where to start about this book. While reading, I just lost my whole interest to read this. Firstly, Viper’s Daughter was the seventh book of the series called Chronicles of Ancient Darkness. Therefore, I couldn’t understand anything about the characters and plot line from this book. Even though the book said that it could be read as a standalone, it was hard for me to comprehend and follow the flow of this story. 

I ditched this book last November because I couldn’t force myself to continue reading something that I couldn’t understand at all. However, I tried to continue and understand the remaining of the chapters because I wouldn’t want to miss this moment to read and review this. But, nothing of the book’s content changed my initial perspective towards this book. If I have read the previous books in the series before, there would be a chance that I would probably enjoy Viper’s Daughter better. The only thing that I could comment was the writing. The writing was okay and understandable, suitable for middle grade and adult audiences.

2020 has not been my best reading year so I am hoping to read more quality reads for the remaining months.

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Sabrina

ARC Review: The Vanishing Trick (Jenni Spangler)

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Genre: Middle Grade
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s UK
Publication Date: April 30th 2020
Format: ARC Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 294

Blurb from Goodreads:

Step into a world of secrets, folklore and illusions, where nothing is as it seems and magic is at play…

Madame Augustina Pinchbeck, travels the country conjuring the spirits of dearly departed loved ones… for a price. Whilst her ability to contact ghosts is a game of smoke and mirrors, there is real magic behind her tricks too – if you know where to look.

Through a magical trade, she persuades children to part with precious objects, promising to use her powers to help them. But Pinchbeck is a deceiver, instead turning their items into enchanted Cabinets that bind the children to her and into which she can vanish and summon them at will.

When Pinchbeck captures orphan Leander, events are set into motion that see him and his new friends Charlotte and Felix, in a race against time to break Pinchbeck’s spell, before one of them vanishes forever…


RATING

3 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW

Middle grade books are always easy to read and comprehend! The Vanishing Trick is one of them.

Once I read the first sentence of the book, I could tell that the story was interesting. The three main characters, Leander, Charlotte and Felix were very distinct from one another as they both have different background.

I truly appreciate that there were three POV in the story as some books tend to have only one POV and that made the story to be two-dimensional. The children were tricked by Pinchbeck because they thought she was their savior and she would give them shelter and food in exchange of their behavior. It was sad that these kids were cheated by the villain because all children pretty much rely on adult for emotional connection to live.

The Vanishing Trick revolved around bravery and friendship. It was admirable that they risked their lives to protect one another in order to defeat Pinchbeck.

Thank you Pansing Books for sending me the ARC for The Vanishing Trick in exchange of an honest review.

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Sabrina

 

ARC Review: Clap When You Land (Elizabeth Acevedo)

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Genre: Young Adult Contemporary, Poetry
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Publication Date: May 5th 2020
Format: ARC Hardback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 417

Blurb from Goodreads:

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…

In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.

Separated by distance – and Papi’s secrets – the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered. And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.

Papi’s death uncovers all the painful truths he kept hidden, and the love he divided across an ocean. And now, Camino and Yahaira are both left to grapple with what this new sister means to them, and what it will now take to keep their dreams alive.

In a dual narrative novel in verse that brims with both grief and love, award-winning and bestselling author Elizabeth Acevedo writes about the devastation of loss, the difficulty of forgiveness, and the bittersweet bonds that shape our lives.


RATING

4 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

I’ve never read anything from Elizabeth Acevedo but whenever I stumbled across reviews of her other books, there were always praises and positive feed backs. This was my first time reading Elizabeth Acevedo’s masterpiece, I could proudly say that I enjoyed reading Clap When You Land.

The theme of Clap When You Land was about grief and trying to make beauty out of it. The theme was written in such a beautiful and moving way that touched the readers’ heart to the core.

To be honest, it took me a few chapters to differentiate the two narrators between Camino and Yahaira because the narration was too similar with one another as initially they were both trying to grasp the reality of their father’s demise. The emotional connection between Camino and Yahaira was intensified along the book as if they have bonded before and that was truly special and sweet. They have lived through separate lives before the incident only to realize that they have this familial connection that eventually brought them together.

I am such a fan of free-verse poetry in general so reading this was totally smooth sailing. I didn’t have any problems in reading and understanding the story itself because the author did a great job in building the plot slowly to make the readers familiar with the characters and setting first.

All in all, Clap When You Land is a beautiful story that showcases about the determination and strength of two sisters.

Thank you Pansing Books for sending me Clap When You Land in exchange of an honest review.

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Sabrina

ARC Review: The Two Lives of Lydia Bird (Josie Silver)

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Genre: Adult Fiction
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication Date: March 3rd 2020
Format: ARC Paperback
Source: Times Reads
Page Count: 431

Blurb from Goodreads:

Lydia and Freddie. Freddie and Lydia. They’d been together for more than a decade, and Lydia thought their love was indestructible.

But she was wrong. On her twenty-eighth birthday, Freddie died in a car accident.

So now it’s just Lydia, and all she wants to do is hide indoors and sob until her eyes fall out. But Lydia knows that Freddie would want her to try to live fully, happily, even without him. So, enlisting the help of his best friend, Jonah, and her sister, Elle, she takes her first tentative steps into the world, open to life–and perhaps even love–again.

But then something inexplicable happens that gives her another chance at her old life with Freddie. A life where none of the tragic events of the past few months have happened.

Lydia is pulled again and again across the doorway of her past, living two lives, impossibly, at once. But there’s an emotional toll to returning to a world where Freddie, alive, still owns her heart. Because there’s someone in her new life, her real life, who wants her to stay.

Written with Josie Silver’s trademark warmth and wit, The Two Lives of Lydia Bird is a powerful and thrilling love story about the what-ifs that arise at life’s crossroads, and what happens when one woman is given a miraculous chance to answer them.


RATING

4 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW

This book is just so complicated for me to review. It is not that I don’t enjoy the story, it is because of the heavy theme that makes my head and heart hurt while I read it.

Josie Silver takes us on an in-depth journey of grief and sadness experienced by our main protagonist, Lydia Bird when she loses her boyfriend, Freddie Hunter in a car accident. Lydia and Hunter have been soulmates since high school and both of them have a close relationship with their best friend, Jonah Jones. After the incident, the long-lasting friendship between Lydia and Jonah falls apart.

Lydia tries to adjust her life without Freddie and she uses sleeping pills to help her go to sleep every night. Surprisingly, she finds herself in another world where she can find Freddie in her sleep. She uses the pills as an escapism from the real world to spent more time with her boyfriend and tries to find answers on how to move forward. Understandingly, Lydia’s mother and sister finds the coping mechanism to be very problematic that Lydia finds solace in taking sleeping pills to a point where she becomes addicted to it.

The story highlights on Lydia’s struggles to continue living, for example coming to work, putting herself together and working out the ties with her family and friends. It certainly takes time for her to get over someone who used to be in her life, but eventually Lydia realizes that she needs to move on and evolve. I love it how Josie Silver takes the time to write on how grief can impact a person in both short and long term.

It is so admirable and inspiring that Lydia pulls herself from the sadness and moves on and tries out new things. She travels to Croatia, a place where she doesn’t know anything about and mingles around with strangers to get new experiences. The last 50 pages of the book is so heartbreaking to read because that is the point where Lydia is ready to let her past go and to never let it haunt her anymore.

The realizations about grief and loss that Lydia receives along the way are so moving that we as readers can always get something from. Grief and loss are subjective subjects that people will have ways to recover from. Reading about Lydia Bird’s recovery is unquestionably a rough journey but the ending sets a message that there is always a rainbow after the storm.

Many thanks to Times Reads for sending The Two Lives of Lydia Bird in exchange of an honest review.

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Sabrina

ARC Review: Keeper (Jessica Moor)

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Genre: Adult Thriller
Publisher: Viking
Publication Date: March 19th 2020
Format: Paperback
Source: Times Reads
Page Count: 322

Blurb from Goodreads:

He’s been looking in the windows again. Messing with cameras. Leaving notes.
Supposed to be a refuge. But death got inside.

When Katie Straw’s body is pulled from the waters of the local suicide spot, the police decide it’s an open-and-shut case. A standard-issue female suicide.

But the residents of Widringham women’s refuge where Katie worked don’t agree. They say it’s murder.

Will you listen to them?

An addictive literary page-turner about a crime as shocking as it is commonplace, Keeper will leave you reeling long after the final page is turned.


RATING

3 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

I started this book with such high expectations but at the end I felt underwhelmed with the story. The story was well paced but it was filled with many side characters that didn’t contribute that much to the plot.

To be honest I only cared for the main character, Katie and her life before her passing. Reading her story was essential in determining the perpetrator but I was hoping that there were more background stories about her life and crucial moments with her boyfriend. I certainly didn’t expect the plot twist at the last page of the book and I was kinda disappointed that the story left us hanging just like that. Open ended endings are not always my cup of tea.

Even though the story did not satisfy me, the whole message that the book wanted to convey was really critical. Domestic abuse and violence is not foreign topic, we often here about it through the news or it happens within our society. Women and children are the common victims of the abuse so they are many centers that provide shelter and care to them to start a new life away from their negative space.

One of the message that Jessica Moor wanted to tell to us is how control can be confused with protectiveness. The victims wouldn’t have expected the behavior in the first place, but after a few scenarios they would be totally suspicious with the abuser’s unusual actions.

Keeper is not entirely a bad book, but it’s definitely not for me.

Thank you Times Reads for sending Keeper for exchange of an honest review.

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Sabrina

 

ARC Review: Are You Watching? (Vincent Ralph)

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Genre: Young Adult Thriller
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication Date: February 6th 2020
Format: Paperback
Source: Times Reads
Page Count: 371

Blurb from Goodreads:

A page-turning new YA thriller for the social media age, perfect for fans of A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder and One Of Us Is Lying.

Ten years ago, Jess’s mother was murdered by the Magpie Man.

She was the first of his victims but not the last.

Now Jess is the star of a YouTube reality series and she’s using it to catch the killer once and for all.

The whole world is watching her every move.

And so is the Magpie Man.


RATING 

3.5 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

When I was told that Are You Watching? is perfect for Karen M. McManus’ fans, I was sold! I’ve never read her books and based on reviews, they’re really critically acclaimed by readers.

The premise of Are You Watching? is definitely the main factor on why I choose to read this, which revolves around a YouTube star catching this serial killer named Magpie Man who once killed her mother. With the help of the internet, Jessica hopes to increase awareness about this issue and find clues to catch this perpetrator. Chosen with other four applicants, Jessica feels the need to present a ‘hook’ on the first episode of the show to make her stand out from her other contenders.

Even though this is YA book, in my opinion, the narration seems to come from a 12 year old. I am not sure why the author writes Jessica to have immature thoughts but it does not suit Jessica’s image as a 17 year old.

There is no denying that thriller books are such page turner, same goes to Are You Watching?. In addition, the short chapters in the book makes it easier and faster to read. The book is also fast paced and easily digestible, as the author writes it to be so gripping. The chapters also usually ends with a cliffhanger, so it makes you really want to read the next one.

To be honest, the ending is kinda disappointing and underwhelming. I still have questions on why the killer did all of the killings. That bothers me the most, considering the Magpie Man has killed over 10 women.

All in all, Are You Watching? is a thriller book that keeps you at the edge of the seat at most times and makes you root for Jessica so bad in order to catch Magpie Man.

Special thanks to Times Reads for sending Are You Watching? in exchange of an honest review.

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Sabrina