ARC Review: Into The Crooked Place (Alexandra Christo)

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Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Publication Date: October 8th 2019
Format: ARC Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 471

Blurb from Goodreads:

Magic rules the city of Creije Capital and Tavia Syn knows just how many tricks she needs up her sleeve to survive. Selling dark magic on the streets for her kingpin, she keeps clear of other crooks, counting the days until her debt is paid and she can flee her criminal life.

But then, one day, with her freedom in sight, Tavia uncovers a sinister plot that threatens to destroy the realm she calls home. Desperate to put an end to her kingpin’s plan, Tavia forms an unlikely alliance with three crooks even more deadly than her:

Wesley, the kingpin’s prodigy and most renewed criminal in the realm.

Karam, an underground fighter with a penchant for killing first and forgetting to ask questions.

And Saxony, a Crafter in hiding who will stop at nothing to avenge her family.

With the reluctant saviours assembled, they embark on a quest to put an end to the dark magic before it’s too late. But even if they can take down the kingpin and save the realm, the one thing they can’t do is trust each other.


RATING

3 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

It took me nearly four weeks to complete this book. It’s not that I don’t enjoy reading Fantasy books, particularly stories that involves ‘gangster heist fantasy’ like Six of Crows. I truly enjoyed reading Six of Crows and I rated the book a solid five stars for its amazing cast and story line. However, I didn’t feel the same way towards Into the Crooked Places.

I tried reading this book until 100 pages and I still didn’t connect to any of the characters at all. I felt like the characters were just written to be plot devices to carry out the story, while the characters could just be written properly to be human beings with feelings and instincts. I was even more disappointed because the story was written to have various point of views (POV) from the casts and it’s definitely a plus point to ensure that the readers have ample information on what to know and expect from each characters. For me, characterization is very important no matter how bombastic the story is. If the characters are dull, it is enough to make the reader feel bored.

This book has so much potential because the story line is kinda interesting to follow. I like reading about broken people with their own dark past and how they form their group to defeat others. I just wanted a more face-paced storytelling and interesting characterization from Into the Crooked Places. 

I am intrigued to know what the second book can offer us next and I really hope that it won’t disappoint us!

Thank you Pansing Books for providing me this copy in exchange of an honest review!

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Sabrina

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ARC Review: Scars Like Wings (Erin Stewart)

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Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: October 3rd 2019
Format: ARC Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 376

Blurb from Goodreads:

Relatable, heartbreaking, and real, this is a story of resilience–the perfect novel for readers of powerful contemporary fiction like Girl in Pieces and Every Last Word.

Before, I was a million things. Now I’m only one. The Burned Girl.

Ava Lee has lost everything there is to lose: Her parents. Her best friend. Her home. Even her face. She doesn’t need a mirror to know what she looks like–she can see her reflection in the eyes of everyone around her.

A year after the fire that destroyed her world, her aunt and uncle have decided she should go back to high school. Be “normal” again. Whatever that is. Ava knows better. There is no normal for someone like her. And forget making friends–no one wants to be seen with the Burned Girl, now or ever.

But when Ava meets a fellow survivor named Piper, she begins to feel like maybe she doesn’t have to face the nightmare alone. Sarcastic and blunt, Piper isn’t afraid to push Ava out of her comfort zone. Piper introduces Ava to Asad, a boy who loves theater just as much as she does, and slowly, Ava tries to create a life again. Yet Piper is fighting her own battle, and soon Ava must decide if she’s going to fade back into her scars . . . or let the people by her side help her fly.

“A heartfelt and unflinching look at the reality of being a burn survivor and at the scars we all carry. This book is for everyone, burned or not, who has ever searched for a light in the darkness.” –Stephanie Nielson, New York Times bestselling author of Heaven Is Here and a burn survivor.


RATING

4 STARS

HERE’S MY THOUGHTS!

I always find it interesting to read books regarding life, love, loss and moving on. Reading about survivors is truly inspiring, at one point they just know how to pick themselves up after the life-changing accident. Survivors have gone through such an ordeal with life, but then they still have to face rubbish from people around them, mainly those who fail to empathize with their situation. That is why support group exists for a reason. To support the survivors. To share their thoughts on life. On the other hand, we should never discriminate survivors because our support can mean everything to them.

Erin Stewart’s Scars Like Wings is about Ava, who lost her parents and cousin in a house fire, trying to start a new life after the accident. Scars Like Wings offers hope and light even in the darkest of scenarios. Ava is lucky to have guardians who care and love her as they way she is. I love that the author writes brilliant parental figure in this story to show how important their role is in a teenager’s well being. Her perspective on life changes after she enters high school and meets her best friends.

Everyone has scars. Some are just easier to see.

You can see the reflection of the society towards burn survivors. You observe the harsh reality Ava faces every single day that it is truly not her fault to be discouraged by it. That is the moment when she needs someone who can understand her emotionally. From the first page till the end, Ava’s voice is so engaging that you understand her pain and insecurities very well.

~MINOR SPOILER SECTION! BE WARNED!~

I do have a problem with the story, which is the supporting cast. To me, her friend just seems to be a manipulative and controlling character to Ava. I also feel bad because this unhealthy aspect in their friendship is never addressed in this story. If a person is struggling with mental health issues, never take advantage of them.

~SPOILER SECTION ENDED~

I would definitely recommend you guys to read this stunning debut by Erin Stewart!

Special thanks to Pansing Books for providing me this awesome ARC!

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Sabrina

Review: The Weight of Water (Sarah Crossan)

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Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Publication Date: May 2nd 2019
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 259

Blurb from Goodreads:

Armed with a suitcase and an old laundry bag filled with clothes, Kasienka and her mother leave Poland and head for the UK to find her father. Life is lonely for Kasienka. At home her mother’s heart is breaking and at school Kasienka finds it impossible to make new friends. While the search continues, Kasienka is kept afloat by William, a boy she meets at the local pool who understands what it means to lose someone and who swims with Kasienka towards her new life.


RATING

4 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

The Weight of Water tells the reader on how to pick up the pieces when everything you know is turned on its head and you have to start all over again. The moment I laid my eyes on the synopsis, I knew that this book is going to be great in terms of self-exploration. I love reading self-exploration books as it gives us an idea on what are truly made of based on our intellectual and spiritual capacities.

At first, I didn’t expect this to be a poetry book. The moment I opened the book and flipped the pages, the content was written in verses. I don’t usually opt for poetry books because I don’t find them appealing at times. However, once I started reading it, I fell in love with the story.

I mark this as Young Adult because the issues discussed in the book were mostly about teenagers facing difficulties on family matters and adapting in the society. Mature audiences will appreciate the book even better because there were adult issues faced by the protagonist’s mother. The protagonist faced such an ordeal in her life, with abrupt changes such as relocating to another country with different mother tongue with no money and jobs to support them.

I have so many favorite verses in The Weight of Water and this verse is one of them:

We weren’t on a ship.
Immigrants don’t arrive on
Overcrowded boats any more,
Swarming wet docks like rats.
It isn’t 1920 and it isn’t Ellis Island –
Nothing as romantic as a view of
Lady Liberty
To welcome us.

This story is very touching but at the same time, enjoyable to read. I would definitely pick up any poetry book by Sarah Crossan anytime soon to enjoy more of her masterpieces!

Thank you Pansing Books for providing me this awesome review copy!

X

Sabrina

 

Review: Not My Fault (Cath Howe)

 

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Genre: Children
Publisher: Nosy Crow
Publication Date: May 2nd 2019
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 268

Blurb from Goodreads:

Maya and Rose won’t talk to each other.

Even though they are sisters.

Not since the accident.

Maya is running wild, and Rose doesn’t know what to do.

Now Maya and Rose have to go away together on a week-long school journey. But will the trip – and a life-threatening adventure – fix their relationship… or break it for good?

A beautiful story of family, forgiveness, and finding out who you are, from the author of the highly-acclaimed Ella on the Outside.


RATING

3 STARS!

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

Not My Fault follows two sisters who go for a one-week trip and trying to fix their relationship after a life threatening event.

I love to read stories of family and forgiveness because it is very relatable. Sometimes it is not easy to forgive and forget the ones who have wronged us. We may feel that they are the ones who do the damage in the relationship, but we must remember that they are always two sides in a story. We must be rational in judging the situation and never take sides.

I like the theme of the story, but I don’t like the story line and characters. Maya is a rebel who doesn’t care about people around her and Rose doesn’t know how to approach Maya since the accident. Their attitude tires me and makes me want to end the story even faster. Their parents are also out of picture, since most of time they are away from home to attend the school trip. So, the book lacks some parents-daughter moments to compliment the story. I understand the author wants Maya and Rose to figure out ways to fix their relationship but the reconciliation moment is too rushed that there is nothing special behind it.

Special thanks to Pansing Books for providing me a copy of Not My Fault.

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Sabrina

Review: Arctic Zoo (Robert Muchamore)

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Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Publication Date: July 11th 2019
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 456

Blurb from Goodreads:

From London . . .
Georgia gets straight As at school, writes essays for fun, has been placed first in twenty-six drone races and has a serious addiction to buying Japanese stationery. She plans to follow her older sister Sophie and become a doctor, but her worldview is shattered when Sophie commits suicide.

To Lagos . . .
Julius lives in Ondo, a Nigerian state where half the population lives on less than a dollar a day. But he isn’t one of them. His uncle has been governor of Ondo for more than a decade and his mother is the power behind that throne. He finds refuge in a derelict zoo with best friend Duke, but as the two of them grow close, the world outside becomes more and more hostile.

Following two teenagers living very different lives, ARCTIC ZOO is a startling contemporary novel about protest, sexuality, mental heath and flawed leadership, from the bestselling author of CHERUB.


RATING

4 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

This story follows two teenagers leading very different lives named Julius and Georgia. Julius is the rich kid living in Nigeria, with his family’s huge wealth while Georgia is a drone pilot, having entered many drone racing championships and scored flying colors in exams.

The moment I laid my eyes on the synopsis of Arctic Zoo, I know this book is going to be different from previous YA books that I’ve read before. Arctic Zoo is about teenagers protesting against a corrupt leadership and finding themselves as a whole. There is not a lot of YA books which tells more adult and mature stories like this one, and that attracts me the most.

I am very intrigued with Julius and Georgia’s backstory as they both have diverse stories and family background and it is interesting how their fate crosses path in a mental health unit.

Julius struggles with his sexuality and tries to live boldly but his mother disapproves his choice. Besides, having a boyfriend who comes from a middle class community motivates him to fight his own family, to right the corruption and money laundering that poisons the political system in his country.

Georgia on the other hand, feels depressed by her sister’s death, as her death is resulted by overworking. The system forces workers to do overtime and night shifts for long hours until workers lost their work and life balance. Night shifts can totally disrupt the circadian rhythm or the biological clock that may perturb body function. Georgia feels responsible to make a change and starts a revolution as a sign of protest towards the government’s negligence.

What draw me into reading Arctic Zoo is these two young teenagers are able to start a revolution, to change the world that they are living in for the greater good. The fact that they are braver that some functioning adults in the government is astonishing. They are both selfless and brave, willing to sacrifice themselves for a great cause.

The problem is in the real world, teenagers under 17 don’t get a chance to have a say in the political system. When they protest against ridiculous rules made by the higher management, they are often taken lightly because they think teenagers are not matured enough to understand the whole picture. My answer is teenagers nowadays are brilliant than before. They have the sources from the net to read and they have the mind to make their own decisions already. By reading, we can change the ruling government. Protest is healthy, not to the extent of extremism such as rioting until damaging properties and hurting people.

“It isn’t easy to change the world, but you’ve got to keep trying.

Overall, I enjoy reading this book as the story opens my perspective to the harsh world. Anyone can make a change in the world, you just have to keep trying.

Special thanks to Pansing Books for providing me this awesome copy.

X

Sabrina

Review: Stepsister (Jennifer Donnelly)

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Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher:
Hot Key Books
Publication Date:
May 14th 2019
Format:
Paperback
Source:
Pansing Books
Page Count:
469

Blurb from Goodreads:

‘In an ancient city by the sea, three sisters – a maiden, a mother, and a crone – are drawing maps by candlelight. Sombre, with piercing grey eyes, they are the three Fates, and every map is a human life . . .’

Stepsister takes up where Cinderella’s tale ends. We meet Isabelle, the younger of Cinderella’s two stepsisters. Ella is considered beautiful; stepsister Isabelle is not. Isabelle is fearless, brave, and strong-willed. She fences better than any boy, and takes her stallion over jumps that grown men fear to attempt. It doesn’t matter, though; these qualities are not valued in a girl. Others have determined what is beautiful, and Isabelle does not fit their definition. Isabelle must face down the demons that drove her cruel treatment of Ella, challenge her own fate and maybe even redefine the very notion of beauty . . .

Cinderella is about a girl who was bullied; Stepsister is about the bully. We all root for the victims, we want to see them triumph. But what about the bullies? Is there hope for them? Can a mean girl change? Can she find her own happily ever after?


RATING

3.5 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

I have been looking forward to read this book since first time hearing about it. Especially stories with antagonists or villains as the main character since we don’t always get to read from their point of view.

However, I didn’t enjoy this book as much. Maybe because I wasn’t in the great mood to read, because I was totally into watching movies and TV shows that my reading progress was totally disturbed. The story was so long that at times I had to put it down as I was losing my interest to read about the characters. The pacing was slow and there were many filler chapters. Fortunately, after 200 pages in I started to like story because I had a better grasp of what the story wanted to tell.

I love Isabelle’s depiction in the book. She is firstly portrayed as an evil and grim character, who does all sorts of bad things just to impressed others. At some point I can relate to Isabelle, whenever she feels undervalued by people around her, just because she doesn’t have the standard looks. When things become hard, she takes the responsibility in becoming the breadwinner of the family, and she realizes that in order to be treated well by the society, she must treat others nicely. Great things will come to those who wait.

I also love the portrayal of Tavi, Isabelle’s sister in the book. She is such a nerd and a questioner. She loves learning and knowledge. She experiments about cheese just to try new things. Women during the old days didn’t get the chance to learn and go to college like men do, so it is refreshing to see the scenario in this book.

All in all, Stepsister is a unique story that is the complete opposite of pretty. “Ugly” and “Girls who don’t fit into the social norm” are the main theme of the story that compels me the most.

Thank you Pansing Books for providing me this review copy in exchange of an honest review!

X

Sabrina

ARC Review: All The Things We Never Said (Yasmin Rahman)

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Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publisher:
Hot Key Books
Publication Date: 
July 11th 2019
Format:
ARC Paperback
Source:
Pansing Books
Page Count:
448

Blurb from Goodreads:

16-year-old Mehreen Miah’s anxiety and depression, or ‘Chaos’, as she calls it, has taken over her life, to the point where she can’t bear it any more. So she joins MementoMori, a website that matches people with partners and allocates them a date and method of death, ‘the pact’. Mehreen is paired with Cara Saunders and Olivia Castleton, two strangers dealing with their own serious issues.

As they secretly meet over the coming days, Mehreen develops a strong bond with Cara and Olivia, the only people who seem to understand what she’s going through. But ironically, the thing that brought them together to commit suicide has also created a mutually supportive friendship that makes them realise that, with the right help, life is worth living. It’s not long before all three want out of the pact. But in a terrifying twist of fate, the website won’t let them stop, and an increasingly sinister game begins, with MementoMori playing the girls off against each other.

A pact is a pact, after all.

In this powerful debut written in three points of view, Yasmin Rahman has created a moving, poignant novel celebrating life. ALL THE THINGS WE NEVER SAID is about friendship, strength and survival.


RATING

5 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

Wow, this year is truly a good year for diverse and mental health young adult books! First, The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf is truly a masterpiece, and then comes All The Things We Never Said, this indeed blows my mind!

Why am I saying that this book is a masterpiece? This book revolves around three awesome and relatable characters who share their own journey on fighting their mental health issues until their destiny intertwines by a website, they finally meet with each other. We don’t always get to see mental health books with multiple POVs, and that makes the story even reachable and profound at the same time. This book is a page-turner, once I start, I cannot stop reading it. Their lives are so interesting, I love reading about how they interpret and discover their own self while facing their mental illnesses.

They have their own struggles that they face and when they become friends, they share their feelings and problems with people who are in their shoes, the ones who can truly understand themselves. Even though they come from various races, religion and sexual orientation, they are able to support each other very well.

This stunning UKYA debut is totally a book you don’t want to miss reading this year!

Special thanks to Pansing Books for providing me this awesome ARC!

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Sabrina