ARC Review: Yes No Maybe So (Becky Albertalli & Aisha Saeed)

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Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s UK
Publication Date: February 4th 2020
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 440

Blurb from Goodreads

Jamie Goldberg is cool with volunteering for his local state candidate – as long as he’s behind the scenes. There’s no way he’d ever knock on doors to ask people for their votes…until he meets Maya.

Maya Rehman’s having the worst Ramadan ever. Her best friend is too busy to hang out, her summer trip is cancelled, her parents are separating and now her mother thinks the solution to her problems is political canvassing – with some awkward guy she hardly knows …

Going door to door isn’t exactly glamorous, but maybe it’s not the worst thing in the world. After all, the polls are getting closer – and so are Maya and Jamie. Mastering local activism is one thing. Navigating the cross-cultural crush of the century is another thing entirely.


RATING

4 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

You have no idea how excited I was when I received this ARC in the mail.

This is my first time reading a book that is written by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed and man, they are truly great writers! They can write a YA book over 500 pages and I will never get bored.

At first, I thought I was going to read about teenagers and their problems with school and young relationships and I was definitely wrong. It is more than that.

Yes No Maybe So is about two teenagers with political aspirations to change America for the better. It is a moving moment for me to read the message from the two authors, saying that the 2016 election sparked the whole idea of Yes No Maybe So.

Yes No Maybe So is about Jamie and Maya, whom both have different practices of faith, work together on a campaign for a special election. They spend time together during the summer break to canvass and knock people’s door to encourage people to vote. They certainly have the bravery to do that because not everyone is welcoming enough to let a stranger preaches about politics. However, they overcome that obstacles to fight for the election. On the other hand, Maya is having another crisis at home as her parents are on a brink of separation. Her world is even more worst when her own best friend is busy for college and ignores her for a new roommate.

I love the setting of the book, which is during Ramadan. I can somehow relate to Maya because it is definitely tiring to do volunteer work when you are fasting and she makes it through nonetheless. I love the time when she spends at the mosque to break fast and it shows how the Muslim community can also socialize with other non-Muslims during this holy month.

I appreciate the family relationships between Maya and her family. Even though her parents are not on good terms, they make time and effort to support Maya during her canvassing journey. They reward Maya with a car because of her efforts to involve in the election. Her parents talking about the act and consequences of interracial dating is a highlight from the book because not all parents are understanding enough to let their kids date a non-Muslim. It shows how concern and open-minded they are as parents.

It is also interesting to read about Jamie’s background as he is Jewish and how Jewish holidays are celebrated. I applaud how diverse this book is and it shows how America is build based on diversity.

It is refreshing to see a YA book talks about politics. Even though Jamie and Maya are currently too young to vote, the political scene of their area opens their minds towards the political issues surrounding America, for example the bill where it targets Muslim women wearing scarves. It is a good opportunity to explore this area to enlighten our young generation how serious and detrimental this issue is.

I love it when they are also pop culture references such as Matilda, The Good Place and The Office. I am currently in the midst of binge watching The Good Place and I am surprised how coincidental the timing is.

All in all, I highly recommend this book to those who are interested in some politics and in for some romance.

Special thanks to Pansing Books for sending me Yes No Maybe So in exchange of an honest review.

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Sabrina

ARC Review: The Highland Falcon Thief (M.G. Leonard & Sam Sedgman)

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Genre: Middle Grade
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
Publication Date: January 30th 2020
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 238

Blurb from Goodreads:

Harrison Beck is reluctantly joining his travel-writer Uncle Nat for the last journey of the royal train, The Highland Falcon. But as the train makes its way to Scotland, a priceless brooch goes missing, and things suddenly get a lot more interesting. As suspicions and accusations run high among the passengers, Harrison begins to investigate and uncovers a few surprises along the way. Can he solve the mystery of the jewel thief and catch the culprit before they reach the end of the line?


RATING

4 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

The Highland Falcon Thief is the first book of the Adventures on Trains’ series.

This was such a fun read! I didn’t have enough luck with middle grade stories so far this year, so reading The Highland Falcon Thief was such a surprise for me. I read this just within hours, just to tell how enjoyable this book was.

I went into this book with such low expectations because middle grade stories could be a little be repetitive and predictive, but this totally caught me off guard. The Highland Falcon Thief didn’t disappoint me at all.

The story was so interesting that it glued me to the book. I was pretty much hooked from the first page. I always have some kind of fascination towards train and mysteries, and I was glad that this book offered us that.

I just love everything from the book, from the likable characters to its technical explanations on trains and the history behind it. I also love the relationship between Harrison and his uncle, Nat in this book where they were up for more action and adventure. It was also cool to read about his uncle’s job as a journalist who traveled around the world just to write books. Such a dream job. I love Lenny’s addition in this book and how it changed Harrison’s perspective towards life, that life is more than just playing video games, as he was an avid gamer before.

My favorite aspect from the book was the mystery part where the book kept us guessing from the start, about who was the prime suspect of the theft. Honestly, I couldn’t guess it from the start because the book kept on changing our view towards the characters thus I had a really hard time to pick the culprit behind the robbery. The closure was very unpredictable and I was impressed by the fact that these two children were able to unravel the mystery.

Although the book was written by two authors, M.G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman, I couldn’t even tell the difference between their writing style. It shows how they have taken the effort to merge their writing styles and systems together in order to write the book perfectly, without making each other’s writer distinct from one another.

I am excited to see what the next book will offer us. I expect that the next adventure to be outside England, as hinted at the last page of the book.

All in all, one of the best middle grade books so far this year.

Special thanks to Pansing Books for sending me The Highland Falcon Thief in exchange of an honest review.

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Sabrina

Review: Deep Secret (Berlie Doherty)

Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Anderson Press
Publication Date: January 2nd 2020
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 253

Blurb from Goodreads:

Grace put out her hand, almost touching the mirror. Her image did the same.
‘There’s another world in there.’
‘We could float in and out of it.’

Deep in a Derbyshire valley live two girls, twins, so alike that even their family can’t tell them apart. But tragedy is waiting. When the valley is sold to be flooded for a huge dam, the villagers are forced to leave their homes. Deep secrets are uncovered. New characters enter their lives and desires, love and grief come to the surface.


RATING

2 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

I was very much confused by this book. Initially I expected it to be set in a modern era, however it was set to be a few years after World War 2. So, the setting was kinda dull and flat for me mainly because the only thing that the kids in this book wanted to do was to get married and have kids.

Deep Secret was loosely inspired by the story of building of Ladybower reservoir in North Derbyshire, England. The history behind the construction was pretty interesting, but this story wasn’t. I was hoping to get more from what was explained in the synopsis of the book.

I knew that the book had sad elements in it as they were so many tragedies that happened with the characters, but I couldn’t evoke any kind of emotions.

SPOILER DISCUSSION COMING UP

It was so bloody stupid that the mother couldn’t identify and compare which and who was Madeleine and Grace. When reading the book, I was frustrated that the Mother herself couldn’t tell which one was the dead and alive child.

SPOILER ENDS

All in all, it’s not a book that I will read again.

Thank you Pansing Books for sending me Deep Secret in exchange of an honest review.

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Sabrina

ARC Review: Evernight (Ross MacKenzie)

41723518._SY475_Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Publisher: Anderson Press
Publication Date: February 6th 2020
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 342

Blurb from Goodreads:

Thousands of years ago, the Evernight came to the Silver Kingdom and turned everything to darkness and chaos. It was only defeated thanks to the skill and bravery of the Witches. But now the Evernight is about to return, released by the evil Mrs Hester, and the only spell that might stop it is lost, deep below the great city of King’s Haven.

Then orphan Larabelle Fox stumbles across a mysterious wooden box while treasure-hunting in the city’s sewers. Little does she realise she is about to be catapulted into an adventure, facing wild magic and mortal danger – and a man who casts no shadow . . .


RATING

3 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

Once I started reading Evernight, I could not stop. I was just pretty much engrossed to the world-building and magic system of Evernight that I kept reading more.

Unfortunately, the story felt very flat. I really hoped that I loved this book as much as other people did, but I was not as invested into the story that much. I understood the story, but I felt like it was just mediocre and nothing special. I think that I really should stop reading middle grade fantasy for a while because I am just not feeling it. I rather just read young adult and adult fiction nowadays.

This is not a standalone, apparently Evernight is the first book to a new spellbinding series. When the second book comes out, I will surely give that book a try.

Thank you Pansing Books for sending Evernight in exchange of an honest review.

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Sabrina

To All The Boys: P.S. I Still Love You Movie Review

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Here’s my review for each book in the To All The Boys series:

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

P.S. I Still Love You

Always and Forever, Lara Jean

SPOILER REVIEW COMING UP

I have just watched this movie and AHH the romantic and swoony feels are coming, especially since tomorrow, February 14th is Valentines Day. Happy Valentines Day, guys! ❤

I watched the first movie, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before a few days ago just to get the excitement and later compare it with the second one when it comes out. I could not deny that I had HIGH expectations with this second movie because the first one was great with its character development and writing and how it stayed original to the book.

To be frank, I am kind of disappointed with this movie. It feels different and flat if we compare it to the first one. Maybe its because they switch directors so the direction of the story is different.

All in all, I enjoy the movie nonetheless. It is not entirely a bad film because there are still many great parts in the film that were similar to the book. My complaint is I wish the movie is longer and I want more of John Ambrose McClaren’s screen time. I understand that the movie cannot afford to follow exactly by the rule book but at least give John more time with Lara Jean. I’ve been always #TeamJohn since 2015 so seeing him on screen for the first time with Lara Jean is a grand moment for all of John fans. Jordan Fisher plays the role so perfectly. He is really into the book character of John Ambrose McClaren as he is totally sweet, handsome and down-to-earth guy that we all know. If the movie want us to be confused on rooting for #TeamPeter or #TeamJohn, they have done a great job.

The other new characters that we are introduced to; Stormy played by the wonderful Holland Taylor and Trina Rothschild played by Sarayu Rao. I just love Stormy as a friend to Lara Jean. She gives so many advice on life and especially on relationships. It is very sweet to see how Stormy cares for Lara Jean as she is truly craving for a maternal figure who she can get advice from about boyfriend issues. Ross Butler’s Trevor is also a great addition to the movie.

I would like to talk about my favorite parts of the movie. I just love Lara Jean and Peter K in this movie. I love their first moments together when they were official declare themselves as a couple. However, their relationship does not end well because they keep on fighting as Lara Jean is constantly trying to become a greater girlfriend from Gen to Peter and Peter has not stopped talking to Gen even after they have broken up. That part makes me stressed out the most. It is kinda tiring to see them arguing in this film but that makes them more mature and understand each other. The most heartbreaking moment in the film is when Lara Jean gives the necklace to Peter back. Oh my god the soundtrack for that exact moment is so gut-wrenching and beautiful at the same time. That happens to be my most favorite soundtrack in the film, which is Moral of the Story by Ashe.

I am also expecting for more Song sisters moments in this second film but they don’t really highlight it all at. However, I truly appreciate the Fakesgiving celebration and Korean New Year, just like in the book. I love that scene because it shows how family oriented the Song-Coveys is and how they truly value their time together as a family.

To All The Boys: P.S. I Still Love You may be the most character driven story so far, but it is not the best movie in the series.

Thank you Jenny Han for writing such a beautiful story for us to enjoy. I cannot wait for Always and Forever, Lara Jean to come out and I hope the third film will do justice!

My rating: 3.5/5 STARS

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Sabrina

ARC Review: Break the Fall (Jennifer Iacopelli)

45993641._SY475_Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publisher: Hodder Children’s Books
Publication Date: February 20th 2020
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 322

Blurb from Goodreads:

Audrey Lee is going to the Olympics.

A year ago, she could barely do a push up as she recovered from a spine surgery, one that could have paralyzed her. And now? She’s made the United States’ gymnastics team with her best friend, Emma, just like they both dreamed about since they were kids. She’s on top of the world.

The pressure for perfection is higher than ever when horrifying news rips the team apart. Audrey is desperate to advocate for her teammate who has been hurt by the one person they trusted most–but not all the gymnasts are as supportive.

With the team on the verge of collapse, the one bright spot in training is Leo, her new coach’s ridiculously cute son. And while Audrey probably (okay, definitely) shouldn’t date him until after the games, would it really be the end of the world?

Balancing the tenuous relationship between her teammates with unparalleled expectations, Audrey doesn’t need any more distractions. No matter what it takes, she’s not going to let anyone bring them down. But with painful revelations, incredible odds, and the very real possibility of falling at every turn, will Audrey’s determination be enough?


RATING

4 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

TW: Sexual assault.

I don’t usually read sports fiction, but I can truly say that this story is one of the best YA books out there. When I read the blurb, I knew that I need to read this instantly. And yes, I was hooked from page one. Sports in YA contemporary is a rare genre so I was totally interested in reading Break the Fall.

One of the things that made me truly intrigued in Break the Fall was the subject discussed in the book, about sexual assault that happen in the sports scene. Even though the author did not explicitly elaborate that Break the Fall was inspired by the news of sex abuse scandal surrounding the USA gymnastic team doctor, I knew that this book is a nod towards that issue. It is important that we acknowledge and discuss about mature issues in YA books like sexual assault to make people understand how serious and detrimental it is to the victims and people around them.

Apart from that, Break the Fall was about the journey of Audrey Lee and her friends in achieving gold for Olympics. Since we are close to Japan 2020, this book was great start to ignite our Olympics spirit. It was refreshing to read about their lives as a gymnast, from their full schedule of never ending practices to their journey during the Olympics. I truly enjoyed reading about Audrey’s life where she balanced her time between her family, friends and gymnastics.

What I liked about Audrey was her perseverance and courage in fighting her own self and facing the obstacles in gymnastics. I also liked her relationship and dynamics between all the gymnasts and it shows that they have great sportsmanship. The competitive nature in sport made them truly complicated and stressful sometimes but they handled the situation very well.

The other subject discussed in the book was disappointments when we fail to reach our dream. It is hard to accept that we are not enough to reach our dreams, but we just have to pick ourselves up and try again until we achieve them.

It was refreshing when Jennifer Iacopelli wrote about woman of color in the sports scene. Audrey Lee is Korean-American, so seeing her dominating the Olympics was totally inspiring at the same time.

I also liked the romance factor in Break the Fall. I adored Audrey’s relationship with the love interest, Leo Adams. They always supported each other on what they work on. That’s relationship goals.

All in all, I really liked it. It is truly Sabrina-approved.

Thank you Pansing Books for sending me Break the Fall by Jennifer Iacopelli.

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Sabrina

Review: A Heart So Fierce and Broken (Brigid Kemmerer)

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Genre: Children
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Publication Date: January 7th 2020
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 445

Blurb from Goodreads:

Find the heir, win the crown.
Win the crown, save the kingdom.

Harper has freed Prince Rhen from the curse that almost destroyed his kingdom. But all is not well; rumours are rife that there is a rival heir with a stronger claim to the throne and that ‘Princess’ Harper of Disi is nothing but a fraud.

Grey has fled the castle carrying a terrible secret. When he is discovered by soldiers and returned to Ironrose by force, Grey’s allegiances begin to shift. And as he grows closer to an enemy princess, he is forced to decide whether he will stand against Rhen for the crown he never wanted.


RATING

4.5 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW

Here’s my review for A Curse So Dark and Lonely.

Despite the mixed reviews, I actually loved this book.

I originally thought that this story would be about Harper and Rhen and it turned out it was not. I was also quite skeptical on what this story would offer after the conclusion of the first book. It turned out that I was truly surprised with the story as there were actually more conflicts and characters that we have yet to meet.

I read the first book back in September 2018 and I read it just in a single sitting. The story truly hooked my attention from the first page with its unique and brilliant cast and plot. Having known that there would be a sequel, I couldn’t be more happier to support this series.

A Heart So Fierce and Broken was mainly told from the perspectives of Grey and Lia Mara. My favorite characters from the series are Harper and Grey, so I was so pleased that we get to spent more time with Grey and witness his development and change from what had happened in the first book. The settings of the book for this time around was mainly outside of Ironrose Castle, so we get to see many other places, kingdoms and royals that we didn’t get to see before. What I liked about it was there was a geographical map that exhibited Emberfall showing cities and physical features. It truly helped me to read about the background and history of Emberfall.

This book was a lot different from the first one. It was certainly a dramatic shift, as if like AHSFAB was a standalone book. Firstly, the motivation of characters were different. Grey has a different plan now as he’s now the heir to the throne. We see his character development from being a guardsman to Rhen to being someone who could stop his governance. The story was very different as well as the main plot was to unite the ties between the two kingdoms in the expense of baiting Grey, the heir to the throne. So, we get to see a lot of politics in this one.

I have to applaud Brigid Kemmerer for writing a really fast paced fantasy book. The writing was brilliant and wonderful and the pacing truly kept me engaged till the end. I appreciate it when an author does not repeat points in the each chapter of a book and just relies on the reader’s intelligence and consciousness to remember the story. It shows that the author trusts us with the story.

Every great book has its weaknesses. What I didn’t like was we didn’t see much of Rhen and Harper in this book as if they were not important in this story at all. I want to read more of their point of view in this book to show that they were also involved in this story. Rhen was also so off-putting in AHSFAB, unlike himself in the first book. However, it was revealed that there was a twistier plot twist at the end of the story, so I could understand why he behaved that way. Unfortunately, the way that Rhen was written in AHSFAB seemed to assume that he was indeed the new villain in this series.

Anywho, I am still excited to read the final book. I am anxious to see where the author will lead us next. I don’t really read that much fantasy, but this series is the one of the best fantasy out there.

Special thanks to Pansing Books for sending A Heart So Fierce and Broken in exchange of an honest review.

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Sabrina