Review: The M Word (Brian Conaghan)

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Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Publication Date: October 1st 2019
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 337

Blurb from Goodreads:

Moya. The M Word. Whisper it. Conceal it. But please, never mention it …

Maggie Yates talks to her best friend Moya every day.

She tells her about Maggie’s mum losing her job. She tells her that Mum’s taken to not opening the curtains and crying in secret. And she tells her about how she plans to cheer Mum up – find her a fella with a bit of cash to splash.

Moya is with her every step of the way. You’re surfing a rainbow if you think someone like that exists round here, she smiles. But I’ll help.

But at the back of her mind Maggie knows that Mum’s crying is more than sadness. That there are no easy fixes. And that Moya’s not really there. Because though she talks to her every day, Moya died months ago…

An unforgettable novel about grief and healing from Costa and Irish Book Award winner Brian Conaghan.


RATING

3 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

I’m going to be honest with you that this is a hard read for me. I go through this book honestly expecting it to be similar to The Weight of a Thousand Feathers, but unfortunately it is not. I love The Weight of a Thousand Feathers so much that I rated it a solid five stars and it was definitely one of the best books I’ve read in 2018.

The M Word tackles so many taboo topics like anxiety, stress disorder, clinical depression and also suicide. I truly appreciate that trigger warnings are stated at the cover of the book, saying it contains strong language and adult themes and it is not suitable for younger readers, to minimize harm. The story is so authentic and emotionally raw that sometimes I feel very uncomfortable reading it because it seems very intimate.

The main protagonist, Maggie Yates is truly a strong character. She is 17 and about to enter college, but her whole life is tumbling down, from her mom being jobless, to being diagnosed with mental illness to having her best friend died. She is not in a good state of mind so she tries to find something that can ease her pain.

This book truly shows what it feels to be at the lowest of the low and how life can be very excruciating at times. There are plenty of descriptive self harming in the book, so be very cautious while reading the scenes because it can be very disturbing.

What bothers me is the progression of the story. I am not hooked at all for the first hundred pages because there is no big development whatsoever. It gets better towards the end of the book. I am also irritated by the fact that there are too much swearing in the book that is somehow intolerable.

Read this if you are searching for something different in the YA space in terms of mental health issues.

Thank you Pansing Books for sending me a copy of The M Word.

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Sabrina

 

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Review: Finding Audrey (Sophie Kinsella)

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Blurb from Goodreads:

Audrey can’t leave the house. she can’t even take off her dark glasses inside the house.

Then her brother’s friend Linus stumbles into her life. With his friendly, orange-slice smile and his funny notes, he starts to entice Audrey out again – well, Starbucks is a start. And with Linus at her side, Audrey feels like she can do the things she’d thought were too scary. Suddenly, finding her way back to the real world seems achievable.

 

 

 


RATING

3 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

I am very intrigued to read this because this was definitely a hyped book back then in 2015, when the book was first released. Most people in Goodreads like the story, so I want to give it a try.

I kinda enjoy reading it, as the main issues discussed are heavy subjects, for example mental health issues such as social anxiety disorder and clinical depression. We read about Audrey’s daily struggles fighting her own self after being diagnosed and we get to see how that illness affects her family entirely. After the incident, her parents are so careful and meticulous of what their children do in their life to a point where the mother doesn’t even allow any video gaming in the house, because apparently it makes you tired and irritable, based on what she has read in the newspaper. Which is true by the way.

Throughout the book, she consults with her doctor and it is fascinating to see how the doctor tries to push the boundaries of what Audrey can do. It is not easy to take control of your anxiety, it will definitely take time. What I know from this book is that the people around the person is a vital part in recovering them. However, in the story, we don’t really know what is the incident that triggers the main character’s illnesses. I feel the writing is unfinished and lazy, as the story is incomplete. A little background story of what really happen won’t hurt a little because it really makes the difference. It makes the reader comprehend the story better and it will strengthen the story line.

Apart from that, there are many hilarious moments that make me smile while reading. Overall, an okay book to devour once in a while.

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Sabrina

Review: Everything, Everything (Nicola Yoon)

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Blurb from Goodreads:

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.


RATING

3 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

I would like to say that I have watched the book to movie adaptation first before reading the book. The film was perfect, from the brilliant characters to the powerful story. The plot was not something new, but I liked it. I really didn’t expect the twist at the end of the movie though.

For the book, I finished it in just one sitting. Not because the book was great, it’s because it was so easy to fly through. The chapters were so short I didn’t have a hard time deciphering her thoughts and feelings. What made my reading experience even faster was the fact that there were many illustrations about Maddy’s life, for example her breathing rate, text messages, emails and even flight tickets that were so adorable. At first, I was very interested to know how Maddy managed her life as a diagnosed SCID patient in a sterile environment, for example how she was homeschooled etc. However, her attention was instantaneously focused on this new boy who had just became her neighbour. That was when I lost my interest towards her. She turned out to be just like the rest of young adult female protagonists in other contemporary books.

I supported the main character to follow her dreams as she wanted to become free. She has spent her entire life living in her house for 18 years, if I were to live in a house for a week, I’ll be dead bored as well. However, I wasn’t a big fan of her decisions. For example, many of her decisions were truly overshadowed by her desire towards the love interest. She relied too much on him until it consumed her. In the book, she has done risky choices just to be with this guy without thinking about her own mother and health. As if she wouldn’t be able to live her life to the fullest if she didn’t meet the boy. Had there been a more profound way to push Maddy to understand why she needed to follow her dreams, I would definitely be okay with it.

I think I would enjoy this better when I was 17.

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Sabrina

Review: Tunnel of Bones (Victoria Schwab)

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Blurb from Goodreads:

Trouble is haunting Cassidy Blake . . . even more than usual.

She (plus her ghost best friend, Jacob, of course) are in Paris, where Cass’s parents are filming their TV show about the world’s most haunted cities. Sure, it’s fun eating croissants and seeing the Eiffel Tower, but there’s true ghostly danger lurking beneath Paris, in the creepy underground Catacombs.

When Cass accidentally awakens a frighteningly strong spirit, she must rely on her still-growing skills as a ghosthunter — and turn to friends both old and new to help her unravel a mystery. But time is running out, and the spirit is only growing stronger.

And if Cass fails, the force she’s unleashed could haunt the city forever.


RATING

4 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

I am so excited to know that there will be a second book in this Cassidy Blake series. I love reading middle grade books and if there is a pinch of paranormal inside of the story, I would be definitely sold!

Here’s my review for City of Ghosts. 

This time around, Cassidy is on a mission to hunt down ghost stories in Paris, France, where it is known to be a heaven of fashion and a scene of love among tourists. However, we do not know that underneath Paris, there is a creepy catacomb that places millions of dead bodies turned into a tunnel of bones.

Paris plays a wonderful backdrop to this ghost story. I love reading about the scenery, people, food and most importantly about the places. Cassidy and her family travel to many landmarks in Paris to explore the history of the place and ghost stories behind it and it is so interesting to see how the stories unravel. I love the juxtaposition on how Victoria can turn this fashion city into such a haunted place that is so terrifying to even visit.

I also love Cassidy’s friendship with her ghost friend, Jacob. Their friendship are honestly hashtag goals because they are always be there for each other. Even though they are very different in terms of personality, but the difference makes the relationship even stronger.

I cannot wait to see what city Victoria is going to write about in the next book and I know that it will not disappoint us all.

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Sabrina

 

ARC Review: The Giver of Stars (Jojo Moyes)

44169269._SY475_.jpgGenre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Publication Date: October 3rd 2019
Format: Paperback
Source: Times Reads
Page Count: 435

Blurb from Goodreads:

Inspired by a remarkable true story, the unforgettable journey of five extraordinary women living in extraordinary and perilous times.

Alice Wright has traveled halfway across the world to escape her stifling life in England. Handsome American businessman Bennett Van Cleve represents a fresh start. But she soon realizes that swapping the twitching curtains of suburbia for newlywed life in the wild mountains of Kentucky isn’t the answer to her prayers. But maybe meeting Margery O’Hara is. The heart and backbone of the small community of Salt Lick, a woman who isn’t afraid of anything or anyone, Margery is on a mission.

Enlisting Alice, along with three other women, all from very different backgrounds, to join her, the band of unlikely sisters battle the elements and unforgiving terrain – as well as brave all manner of dangers and social disapproval – to ride hundreds of miles a week to deliver books to isolated families. Transforming the lives of so many is all the impetus they need to take such risks.

And for Alice, her new job and blossoming friendships become an unexpected lifeline, providing her with the courage she needs to make some tough decisions about her marriage. Then a body is found in the mountains, rocking the close-knit community and tearing the women apart as one of them becomes the prime suspect. Can they pull together to overcome their greatest challenge yet?


RATING

5 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

Jojo Moyes has done it again! I am so glad that I get to receive an early copy of The Giver of Stars because I am a huge fan of Moyes’ writing and storytelling. Skimming the synopsis of the story is enough to make me electrified to read it!

The Giver of Stars is different from her other contemporary fiction books like the Me Before You series. It is a historical fiction set in 1930’s in Baileyville, Kentucky and it is based on true events of The Horseback Librarians of Kentucky which was established by the Former First Lady of the United States of America, Eleanor Roosevelt. The librarians consisted of diverse strong women from various backgrounds who have the same interest, which were loving books and wanting to share the joy of reading to the public. The purpose of this program was to bring books and help educate people who lived in the hills in the Appalachian countryside of Kentucky.

What made me love about The Giver of Stars is for the fact Moyes focused on how important books could be in shaping and nurturing the world, in context of this moving story of the Horseback Librarians of Kentucky. The story delved into the hardship that these librarians faced, when just a fraction of the town wanted to learn while the rest were just being disrespectful to knowledge by being ignorant. We are also told on how women were treated back then in the 30’s where men often see women as not worthy enough to learn because they were afraid if women were able to question or beat the status quo. Increasing literacy by learning and reading books inevitably breeds consequences, for example making people question what is true or false and rising debates. It is not a easy change, as it often increases resistance from the people who are scared of change. For instance, there was a point in the book where people were very suspicious of any reading material other than the Bible because they were afraid that the material would spread bad influence to people.

It also touches on various issues like racism, class and also poverty in this period of US history. It is so disappointing to see how people fail to realize that we need to treat everyone nicely regardless of what gender and skin color. The Giver of Stars also shows how people from the higher status exploits poor people by giving them low wages and destroy the environment just to make money.

I love all the strong women in The Giver of Stars especially Alice and Margery. While reading I learn a lot on their struggle through womanhood and how they overcome their conflicts. This is such a powerful story of women facing hardship and how they all collect the courage to right the wrongs, that you feel their pain like it’s yours and you feel the joy with them as well.

10/10 will recommend this powerful read.

Thank you Times Reads for providing me an ARC of The Giver of Stars in exchange of honest review.

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Sabrina

Review: The Cheerleaders (Kara Thomas)

42861591._SY475_.jpgGenre: Young Adult Thriller
Publisher: Ember
Publication Date: August 6th 2019
Format: Paperback
Source: Times Reads
Page Count: 372

Blurb from Goodreads:

There are no more cheerleaders in the town of Sunnybrook.

First there was the car accident–two girls dead after hitting a tree on a rainy night. Not long after, the murders happened. Those two girls were killed by the man next door. The police shot him, so no one will ever know his reasons. Monica’s sister was the last cheerleader to die. After her suicide, Sunnybrook High disbanded the cheer squad. No one wanted to be reminded of the girls they’d lost.

That was five years ago. Now the faculty and students at Sunnybrook High want to remember the lost cheerleaders. But for Monica, it’s not that easy. She just wants to forget.

Only, Monica’s world is starting to unravel. There are the letters in her stepdad’s desk, an unearthed, years-old cell phone, a strange new friend at school. . . . Whatever happened five years ago isn’t over. Some people in town know more than they’re saying. And somehow, Monica is at the center of it all.

There are no more cheerleaders in Sunnybrook, but that doesn’t mean anyone else is safe.


RATING

3 STARS

HERE’S MY THOUGHTS!

TW: Sexual assault, statutory rape, abortion, suicide, pedophilia and depression.

Apart from reading contemporary and fantasy books, I am always drawn to crime and mystery stories. I can even immerse myself watching crime stories on the television for hours. So when I am given the chance to read The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas, I am extremely thrilled to read it.

I fly through this book so easily due to its compulsive nature and easy readability. This kind of book makes you hungry for more. Even though it is a fast read, I cannot help but feel that the story is very heavy, as it discusses about real issues surrounding teenagers. Trigger warning should be placed at the beginning of the book to avoid harm.

The premise is interesting enough for me to follow, but there are no surprising revelations that make me fell out of the chair. When the plot starts to be so predictable, that’s when it becomes so formulaic. Most of the story is told from Monica’s perspective, but we do have bits of Jennifer’s point of view leading up to the cheerleader’s death. It is terrifying (but not so surprising!) to see how the mysteries started to reveal.

I truly appreciate the female relationship in this book, between Monica and Ginny who always support each other, rather than showing girls who backstab one another.

Unfortunately for me, the ending is so anticlimactic. I don’t like how the story ends because I think it can be even better. To be honest, I can easily predict the person who is responsible for the deaths. At first, you will doubt any character that you meet in the story and anything that you think you know. But after a while, you can get the gist of the story already.

All in all, I wish the book has a twistier mystery to reveal. It is an okay book and I know that there are better thriller books out there. I hear good things about Kara Thomas’ Little Monsters, so I am excited to try that one out.

Special thanks to Times Reads for providing me a finished copy of The Cheerleaders.

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Sabrina

ARC Review: Jackpot (Nic Stone)

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Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publisher: Simon and Schuster UK
Publication Date: December 26th 2019
Format: ARC Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 343

Blurb from Goodreads:

From the author of the New York Times bestseller Dear Martin –which Angie Thomas, the bestselling author of The Hate U Give,called “a must read”–comes a pitch-perfect romance that examines class, privilege, and how a stroke of good luck can change an entire life. 

Meet Rico: high school senior and afternoon-shift cashier at the Gas ‘n’ Go, who after school and work races home to take care of her younger brother. Every. Single. Day. When Rico sells a jackpot-winning lotto ticket, she thinks maybe her luck will finally change, but only if she–with some assistance from her popular and wildly rich classmate Zan–can find the ticket holder who hasn’t claimed the prize. But what happens when have and have-nots collide? Will this investigative duo unite…or divide?

Nic Stone, the New York Times bestselling author of Dear Martin and Odd One Out, creates two unforgettable characters in one hard-hitting story about class, money–both too little and too much–and how you make your own luck in the world.


RATING

4.5 STARS

HERE’S MY THOUGHTS!

I am so happy to receive the ARC for Jackpot from Pansing because I am dying to read new content from Nic Stone. The moment I finished reading the last page of Dear Martin last year, I knew Nic Stone was going to be my favourite author!

Here’s my review for Dear Martin.

I love Nic Stone’s writing style and how she creates her own stories and touches the readers with her writing. I love how she always successfully writes readable stories about amazing and diverse characters with such important and raw issues.

In this book, we are told from the perspective of Rico, who is a seventeen-year-old who splits her time outside school juggling between working and looking after her younger brother, Jax. I am really touched by Rico’s life and how she struggles to meet ends meet everyday without complaining. It hit me so hard that a teenager is working day and night to make her family happy.

I really like Zan, the supporting character of this story. His addition to Jackpot is so heartwarming and sweet. I love how they are always there for each other, during good or bad times. I love watching Zan’s growth too, as he slowly understands the life of the average like Rico’s.

There are many issues discussed in the book that really caught my interest while reading. Jackpot discusses about race, socioeconomic status, health care in America and also about parental pressure. There are stories about the complexities about lottery and what happens if you mismanage your savings and it truly gives me an insight on how the world of lottery works. Poverty is also a main issue. We get to see the harsh truth of being poor in America looks like. No one should ever live like Rico did. If a basic thing like healthcare has become a business, then we really should check ourselves.

One of the unique things in Jackpot are the alternate chapters narrated by inanimate and random things like Lego blocks, lottery ticket etc. This is such an interesting way to provide an outside perspective towards Rico’s life.

All in all, I really enjoyed reading Jackpot. Nic Stone has done it again! I will be the first in line when Nic Stone drops her new book.

Special thanks to Pansing for providing me this ARC.

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Sabrina