Review: Love Your Life (Sophie Kinsella)

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Genre: Romance
Publisher: Bantam Press
Publication Date: October 29th 2020
Format: Paperback
Source: Times Reads
Page Count: 356

Blurb from Goodreads:

I love you . . . but what if I can’t love your life?

Ava is sick of online dating. She’s always trusted her own instincts over an algorithm, anyway, and she wants a break from it all. So when she signs up to a semi-silent, anonymous writing retreat in glorious Italy, love is the last thing on her mind.

Until she meets a handsome stranger. . . All she knows is that he’s funny, he’s kind and – she soon learns – he’s great in bed. He’s equally smitten, and after a whirlwind, intoxicating affair, they pledge their love without even knowing each other’s real names.

But when they return home, reality hits. They’re both driven mad by each other’s weird quirks and annoying habits, from his eccentric, naked-sauna-loving family to her terribly behaved, shirt-shredding dog. As disaster follows disaster, it seems that while they love each other, they just can’t love each other’s lives. Can they overcome their differences to find one life, together?

RATING

3 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW

This is my second time reading Sophie Kinsella’s book and I couldn’t deny that I was excited to read this one. My first book by her was I Owe You One and I loved it.

Love Your Life is a quirky and funny rom-com novel which her main character, Ava meets her love of her life, Matt at a writing retreat in Italy. They are not supposed to reveal their life to each other at the retreat, but somehow without exposing themselves, they have created this unexplainable bond and chemistry. All are fun and games until they go back to London and that’s where everything begins.

The most part of the book shows us about their ups and downs of their relationship after they have known each other’s name and life. We have seen plenty of differences between the two main characters as if they have changed to a different person entirely especially Matt. They quickly find out that their real life selves are not anything like what they expected. Matt during the retreat was this perfect and sweet gentleman but after that he is too plain, boring and grim. Like he doesn’t have a great personality at all. Absolutely zero chemistry between the two. The more pages I read, the harder it seems to read about their relationship. I honestly struggle to read about their relationship progress.

Apart from their messy relationship, it is refreshing to read about Matt’s family and their family business. Having a family business looks very glamorous, but deep down everything is exhausting and nerve-racking, at least according to Matt. In the book, work is the thing that makes Ava and Matt argue for the most part of the book. I don’t understand why Ava couldn’t have just be supportive of her boyfriend instead of being a brat about it. Matt is also a secretive person who doesn’t share personal stuff with Ava so the relationship even becomes worse.

The redeeming factor of the book is definitely the friendships. I enjoy reading about their shenanigans and dynamics of the group and I love how at the end both of the group unite together against all odds. It really contributed to the entertaining elements of the story.

All in all, a comfort read suitable for Sophie Kinsella’s fans.

Thanks Times Reads for sending me Love Your Life in exchange of an honest review.

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Sabrina

Review: Just Like You (Nick Hornby)

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Genre: Adult Fiction
Publisher: Viking UK
Publication Date: September 17th 2020
Format: Paperback
Source: Times Reads
Page Count: 310

Blurb from Goodreads:

The person you are with is just like you: same background, same age, same interests. The perfect match. And it is a disaster.

Then, when and where you least expect it, you meet someone new. You seem to have nothing in common and yet, somehow, it feels totally right.

Nick Hornby’s brilliantly observed, tender but also brutally funny new novel gets to the heart of what it means to fall surprisingly and headlong in love with the best possible person – someone who is not just like you at all.


RATING

3 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW

I was curious to read Nick Hornby’s books since the existence of High Fidelity TV show on Hulu. Since Just Like You is a story about interracial relationship, I straight away requested this book out of curiosity.

The theme is mainly about the challenges of interracial relationship. In this case, how does a twenty year old age gap and their different political and economical background affects the relationship and their respective families. This romance novel with an unusual setup lays out Joseph and Lucy’s story through their conversations together during their relationship. You can observe how they don’t really have the chemistry as they have different point of views regarding politics and race in general, however they both make it through the relationship at the end.

In my point of view, I don’t think that the author explores their relationship in a convincing and reassuring way at all. For instance, I am not sure why Joseph stays with Lucy till the end because Joseph always has his doubts about dating an older women and he always thinks the possibilities of what would happen if they stay and marry each other. To be honest, I think Joseph only stays for the sex with Lucy because based on the book, they had tonnes of it. Besides, there are no definite story to their relationship. The chapters after they both meet each other are so dull that anything barely happens in the book. There is no sign of Lucy’s ex husband wanting to repair the relationship at all. Fortunately, the story does get better at the end with the meeting between Lucy and Joseph’s mother as at the beginning, Joseph is reluctant for them to meet. From start, we see awkward meet ups and conversations but at the end, both parties understood and respect each other’s decisions.

Sure, race relations are a spot on topic in 2020, but the way the author puts it that you can date a black person and still be racist makes me want to gag.

One of the good things is the Brexit commentary as it shows how people from different kinds of race and economic backgrounds act and react to referendum.

This book is not a bad book, it is just a great read for me. I expect more story behind the relationship, not just the superficial kind of relationship.

Thanks Times Reads for sending me Just Like You in exchange of an honest review.

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Sabrina

Review: The Testaments (Margaret Atwood)

Genre: Fiction
Publisher:
Nan A. Talese
Publication Date: September 2019
Format: Hardback
Source: Times Reads
Page Count: 419

Blurb from Goodreads:

Fifteen years after the events of The Handmaid’s Tale, the theocratic regime of the Republic of Gilead maintains its grip on power, but there are signs it is beginning to rot from within.

At this crucial moment, the lives of three radically different women converge, with potentially explosive results. Two have grown up on opposite sides of the border: one in Gilead as the privileged daughter of an important Commander, and one in Canada, where she marches in anti-Gilead protests and watches news of its horrors on TV. The testimonies of these two young women, part of the first generation to come of age in the new order, are braided with a third voice: that of one of the regime’s enforcers, a woman who wields power through the ruthless accumulation and deployment of secrets. Long-buried secrets are what finally bring these three together, forcing each of them to come to terms with who she is and how far she will go for what she believes. As Atwood unfolds the stories of the women of The Testaments, she opens up our view of the innermost workings of Gilead in a triumphant blend of riveting suspense, blazing wit, and virtuosic world-building.

RATING

3 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

I love watching The Handmaid’s Tale TV series on Hulu, so reading The Testaments is definitely a must for me. I haven’t read The Handmaid’s Tale book yet but I can safely say that if you have watched the first three seasons of the show, you can read this book.

One of the reasons why I truly enjoy watching the TV series is because the main character, June Osborne is such a compelling character. You really want her to win after all she’s been through under the prejudiced treatment from Gilead. Since The Testaments is set 15 years after the events of The Handmaid’s Tale, I really want to know what happened to her. Did she die? Did she run away to Canada and never look back? I really have to read this.

The Handmaid’s Tale universe really reads like your general YA dystopia like The Hunger Games, Divergent etc. It has the “chosen one” trope with a resistance growing under the cruel reign of Gilead. I am definitely familiar with all of the tropes found in the book, hence I kinda expected what was going to happen at the end with the characters and all. The predictability was something I didn’t really like about the book.

The book is narrated by three POVs, Agnes, Jade and Aunt Lydia. At first, I was kinda bummed that we didn’t get to see June anymore but little did I know that she’s definitely in the picture but not explicitly explained. The first two characters are teenagers in the book, so their inner monologues and thoughts are childish and have lack of maturity that makes The Testaments sounds like a middle grade book. If the book is narrated by an adult, the book could’ve been much thinner. Maybe the author wanted to make this book appealing to a younger generation but I crave for more mature content as we have seen in the TV series. They are not as engaging as June.

I also want to complain about the thickness of the book. The book has so many filler chapters that if deleted, the story could still be delivered to the readers.

Another downer is that there are so many question left unanswered. After waiting for 35 years after the initial release of The Handmaid’s Tale, people would have wanted to know more of Gilead. Does the system slowly going to shambles? Are there a resistance fighting Gilead? However, there is no major revelation revealed in the book. That makes my reading experience so disappointing for the fact people have been waiting for sequel to be spectacular but instead the end result is upsetting.

Although I enjoy this solely based on an entertainment perspective, I really think The Testaments can be improved. I want more solid plot with engaging characters. I feel like this book is forced to be written, that’s why the book turns out to be just mediocre. I went into this book with such hype and morbid curiosity but I was disappointed at the end.

I can’t wait for season four and I really hope they don’t mess it up. The TV series is our only hope now. Blessed to be the fruit!

Special thanks to Times Reads for sending me The Testaments in exchange of an honest review.

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Sabrina

Review: The Vanishing Half (Brit Bennett)

Genre: Fiction
Publisher:
Riverhead Books
Publication Date: June 2nd 2019
Format: Paperback
Source: Times Reads
Page Count: 352

Blurb from Goodreads:

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect? Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins. As with her New York Times-bestselling debut The Mothers, Brit Bennett offers an engrossing page-turner about family and relationships that is immersive and provocative, compassionate and wise.

RATING

4.5 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

The Vanishing Half has got to be the most hyped book I’ve ever read for this year. Imagine a few weeks after its release, the book has already secured a limited TV series adaptation by HBO. Hollywood is indeed desperate for more Black Lives Matter content to produce, so I think this series will be such an important show for viewers to watch and learn. The producers of this show will have a difficult task to make sure the show truly follows the concept of the book.

The Vanishing Half discusses about racial identity and the idea of “passing”. I’ve never heard the term before so I was kinda confused why the author decided to use it. Based on the story, passing means when a Black community passes to become white. They leave their old identity because they want to escape slavery and racial violence and to gain more social benefits.

The book also touches on issues like the lightness of your skin and the biases that exists within the Black community itself. Mallard, the fictional town was founded by Stella and Desiree’s ancestors for light skinned Black people to live. One of the reasons why they created this town was the residents wanted to create more light skinned generations of children. They wanted a place where they refused to be treated as Negroes but at the same time, they couldn’t be treated as white. Over time, the town became prejudice to dark skinned Black people. This was the turning point where Stella and Desiree rejected these ideas that they decided to run away.

The story is told from multiple point of view – the sisters and their daughters, Jude and Kennedy. The story tells us about the sisters’ upbringing and their motivation to run away from their hometown, Mallard to start a new life. The story also tells us about their daughters’ journey on navigating and figuring out life. My favorite part of the book is definitely the part where Jude and Kennedy’s life intertwined with each other as they both discovered their own heritage and similarities. The story and characters really kept me curious and intrigued to read it until the end.

It was so interesting to see how the twins were basically raised in the same house but they grew up to be two different people as they went into two different directions. It hurt me when Stella left her own Black heritage to be white and at the same time, I really wonder how she could stand living and pretending the lie. She couldn’t even tell her own daughter about her family stories that it was like all of her family were dead.

From what I could learn about this book is that identity is really complicated. We want to simplify it using our language but the surface is just the facade of it.

The reason why I didn’t give this book a solid five stars because the first hundred pages was a bit hard to read as I was just familiarizing with the writing style and the ending could have ended with some closure instead what happened in the book.

All in all, just read this thought-provoking and timely story. You will bring something home to ponder upon.

Thank you Times Reads for sending me The Vanishing Half in exchange of an honest review.

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Sabrina

Review: Sex and Vanity (Kevin Kwan)

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Genre: Fiction
Publisher:
Doubleday
Publication Date: June 30th 2020
Format: Hardback
Source: Times Reads
Page Count: 315

Blurb from Goodreads:

The iconic author of the bestselling phenomenon Crazy Rich Asians returns with a glittering tale of love and longing as a young woman finds herself torn between two worlds–the WASP establishment of her father’s family and George Zao, a man she is desperately trying to avoid falling in love with.

 


RATING

3 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

I couldn’t deny that I was so thrilled to receive this gorgeous copy of Sex and Vanity in the mail. Crazy Rich Asians is one of the most celebrated literature for Asian representation, so I was definitely interested in reading Kevin Kwan’s writing and to judge it by myself. Having to know that this new book will also be adapted into a movie, I went through Sex and Vanity like watching a movie in my head. I love the movie Crazy Rich Asians so I could definitely familiarize with the vibes of these ultra wealthy folks.

In the first chapter, we are instantly introduce to Lucie Churchill, the main character of the story who attends a friends’ wedding in Capri. The wonderful visual descriptions of Capri’s landscape made me feel as if I did travel there. The whole reading experience was so immersive that I was definitely looking forward to research on the history of Capri. Capri is definitely a must to visit when you set foot in the Europe.

While on the other hand this is an entertaining read about the shenanigans of the ultra wealthy, it is painful for me to say that the characters were so intolerable to say the least. All of the characters in Sex and Vanity are cliche and two dimensional. From the surface, they all looked great, happy and content with their lives however, when we discover about the essence of each character, they were actually pretentious and superficial. It gave me headache to read about these characters and their shallow problems because it’s definitely not worth my time. I care for deeply researched characters, not just the story. I grew tired of reading about their wealth and status to a point where I had to stop reading and clear my mind. I didn’t even care to google on many things that I haven’t heard before just because. I want out-of-the-box characterization because it makes the story even more meaningful and exciting to read. In other words, reading about rich people is not my cup of tea.

My other complaint is the first half was far too long. I didn’t expect that the wedding chapters would be too long but it took a wrong decision to drag it until half of the book. It made the second half felt so rushed. However, the author did a decent job in explaining about internalized racism that Lucie face from young. Being born a WASP might be difficult for her to adjust and adapt to her parents’ extended family so it is understandable that she always cares for other people’s opinions instead of hers. She is used to people correcting and criticizing her about her looks and needs.

I understand the uproar from my fellow Malaysian reviewers about this fictional character created by Kwan, who is the Sultanah of Penang. I am confused on why he added this royal character into the book and all of the royal monarchs in Asia, why choose this country? I guess he just wanted to add more representation. Not just that, I also rolled my eyes reading about the inaccurate description of Malay lingo. What does “Kami bersedia untuk Ratu” means anyway? It isn’t that hard to ask for sensitivity or beta readers to proofread.

Nonetheless, it is still quite an eye-opening read about how the 1% navigate their lives. Will I watch the movie? Yes! Will I continue reading the series? Probably.

Thank you Times Reads for sending me Sex and Vanity in exchange of an honest review.

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Sabrina

Review: Ask Again, Yes (Mary Beth Keane)

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Genre: Fiction
Publisher:
Penguin General UK
Publication Date: May 14th 2020
Format: Paperback
Source: Times Reads
Page Count: 374

Blurb from Goodreads:

A gripping and compassionate family drama set between neighbours in suburban New York.

Gillam, upstate New York: a town of ordinary, big-lawned suburban houses. The Gleesons have recently moved there and soon welcome the Stanhopes as their new neighbours. Lonely Lena Gleeson wants a friend but Anne Stanhope — cold, elegant, unstable — wants to be left alone.

It’s left to their children — Lena’s youngest, Kate, and Anne’s only child, Peter — to find their way to one another. To form a friendship whose resilience and love will be almost broken by the fault line dividing both families, and by the terrible tragedy that will engulf them all. A tragedy whose true origins only become clear many years later …

A story of love and redemption, faith and forgiveness, Ask Again, Yes reveals the way childhood memories change when viewed from the distance of adulthood — villains lose their menace, and those who appeared innocent seem less so. A story of how, if we’re lucky, the violence lurking beneath everyday life can be vanquished by the power of love.


RATING

4 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

I have always enjoyed reading family stories that take me on a journey across time, even decades. I love a good and messy family drama and Ask Again, Yes is definitely one of the best out there. I was drawn to this book because of its high ratings and reviews. This book is also perfect for fans of Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere and if you guys don’t know, I love that book so much.

Ask Again, Yes seems like the story of how people achieve the American Dream, where people own big houses in suburban neighborhoods and have good-paying jobs during the day. That’s just the facade of the book. It’s about the relationship between two neighbors destroyed by a violent act in just one night. An act that will tie both of the families forever.

This novel is an exploration of life as a whole and it doesn’t shy away from discussing big problems like alcoholism, mental illness, infidelity and terminal disease. It’s about the trials and tribulations of two families after the big incident, where each family has their way of processing and handling grief. For most part of the book, you heart will be pulled into two because you feel bad for each of them as they have suffer tremendously over the years.

Once I started reading the first chapter of the book, I was totally engrossed with the story. Mary Beth Keane is an exceptional author. She writes with perfect understanding for each one of her characters with such depth, compassion and tenderness. I cannot deny that this book touches all sorts of emotions, from happiness, sadness, frustration, hope, love and forgiveness. I love for the fact that the author puts endless time into explaining and portraying each character with the same amount of justice that we can totally understand how and why a person reacts to every problem. Each main character has their own chapter in the book so it gives us a chance to process them in a wholesome way. I love character-driven stories and this is definitely one of the best out there.

The only reason why I didn’t give this book a five star is because I have so many questions left unanswered after I finished reading it. I wanted to know more about the characters especially Peter’s father, Brian Stanhope. There were some parts which I didn’t understand why she left certain things hanging.

Read this thought-provoking story if you are interested in studying about the nuances of human beings and complexity of relationships.

Thank you Times Reads for sending me Ask Again, Yes in exchange of an honest review.

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Sabrina

Review: The Yellow Bird Sings (Jennifer Rosner)

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Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Picador
Publication Date: March 5th 2020
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 294

Blurb from Goodreads:

Poland, 1941. After the Jews in their town are rounded up, Roza and her five-year-old daughter, Shira, spend day and night hidden in a farmer’s barn. Forbidden from making a sound, only the yellow bird from her mother’s stories can sing the melodies Shira composes in her head.

Roza does all she can to take care of Shira and shield her from the horrors of the outside world. They play silent games and invent their own sign language. But then the day comes when their haven is no longer safe, and Roza must face an impossible choice: whether to keep her daughter close by her side, or give her the chance to survive by letting her go . . .

The Yellow Bird Sings is a powerfully gripping and deeply moving novel about the unbreakable bond between parent and child and the triumph of humanity and hope in even the darkest circumstances.


RATING

3 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

I am always fascinated with war stories and how people live throughout the days of Holocaust. While choosing books to read, I am definitely drawn to the essence of the story which is about a mother and a child trying to survive in this tough time while their people, the Jews are rounded up by the German soldiers.

Music plays an important role in the book as Shira, the daughter is a music prodigy herself. However, Shira’s upbringing is hard because she is forbidden from making any noises or sounds as they want to avoid suspicions from the public. The mother, Roza does whatever it takes to keep her only child safe.

The story starts off slow and builds as it goes along. That is why I take two months to finish this book. To be honest, I am only intrigued by the last 50 pages of the book where the story becomes better. I struggle to read the first parts of the book mainly because the story is slow and there is nothing that interesting happens.

The Yellow Bird Sings portrays a mothers love and just how far they sacrifice themselves to keep their daughters safe. It is definitely an emotional read for me. I cannot imagine how painful it is to let go of your child to keep her safe from danger. To leave your kid behind with a stranger and start a new life at a new place. I cannot never fathom the experience. Some people may be lucky that they will reunite at the end of their lives but some don’t get to experience that. However, I am glad of the ending because it shows how life will always find its way.

Thank you Pansing Books for sending me The Yellow Bird Sings in exchange of an honest review.

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Sabrina

ARC Review: Last Tang Standing (Lauren Ho)

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Genre: Adult Fiction
Publisher: Putnam
Publication Date: June 9th 2020
Format: ARC Paperback
Source: Times Reads
Page Count: 399

Blurb from Goodreads:

Crazy Rich Asians meets Bridget Jones’s Diary in this funny and irresistible debut novel about the pursuit of happiness, surviving one’s thirties intact, and opening oneself up to love.

At thirty-three, Andrea Tang is living the dream: she has a successful career as a lawyer, a posh condo, and a clutch of fun-loving friends who are always in the know about Singapore’s hottest clubs and restaurants. All she has to do is make partner at her law firm and she will have achieved everything she (and her mother) has ever worked for. So what if she’s poised to be the last unmarried member of her generation of the Tang clan? She doesn’t need a man to feel fulfilled, no matter what her meddling relatives have to say about it.

But for a dutiful Chinese-Malaysian daughter, the weight of familial expectations is hard to ignore. And so are the men life keeps throwing in Andrea’s path. Men like Suresh Aditparan, her annoyingly attractive rival for partner and the last man she should be spending time with, and Eric Deng, a wealthy entrepreneur whose vision for their future is more lavish than she could have imagined. With her workplace competition growing ever more intense, her friends bringing dramas of their own to her door, and her family scrutinizing her every romantic prospect, Andrea finds herself stretched to the breaking point. And she can’t help but wonder: In the endless tug-of-war between pleasing others and pleasing herself, is there room for everyone to win?


RATING

4.2 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

This book was such a fun read and perfect to take your mind off the current pandemic situation. Sometimes we just need a little bit of romance and comedy to spice things up.

I love the movie Crazy Rich Asians, so receiving this ARC was definitely a delight for me. I picked this book up yesterday and then here am I writing this review because I couldn’t put it down. I just had to finish this book in one sitting because it was that good.

Andrea Tang has the perfect life, but not enough to impress her mother. Her mother longs for a son-in-law and grandchildren, as any other Asian parents do. The book started off with a Chinese New Year family gathering scene with interrogations by bossy aunties and relatives asking Andrea about marriage. That gathering alone made Andrea feel challenged to bring a boyfriend home ASAP.

I really enjoyed reading this book as a whole. I love reading about Andrea’s journey on climbing the corporate ladder with her rival, Suresh, her relationships with her boyfriend and girlfriends and her family ties with her mother and sister, Melissa.

I was mainly interested in reading about her progress in getting partnership at her firm. Andrea is such workaholic that she did anything she could to deliver her greatest performance for her boss. She sacrificed a lot in terms of time and relationship just to achieve what she wanted. If that’s not dedication, I don’t know what is. I loved for the fact that this story did not truly center around Andrea’s relationship only and it shows how work is indeed life for certain people. Some romance books tend to sugarcoat about relationships to a point where it becomes unrealistic to our world.

Towards the end of the book, there are some important messages for readers to bring back home. For instance, you must listen to your gut instead of others, especially when it comes to your personal life. When we have problems, we always turn to family and friends for advice. But at the end of the day, we will have to face the music alone. Second, we must be grateful of what our parents have done to us. They have fed, sheltered, supported and love us. They sacrificed their life to improve ours hence when it is time for them to rest, we must repay them.

I totally recommend Last Tang Standing to those who are searching for this wonderful romcom story. I can’t wait to see what Lauren Ho writes next.

Thank you Times Reads for sending me the ARC of Last Tang Standing in exchange of an honest review.

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Sabrina

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: 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