Review: What Every Girl Should Know (J. Albert Mann)

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Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date: February 12th 2019
Format: ARC Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 228

Blurb from Goodreads:

This compelling historical novel spans the early and very formative years of feminist and women’s health activist Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, as she struggles to find her way amidst the harsh realities of poverty.

Margaret was determined to get out. She didn’t want to clean the dirty dishes and soiled diapers that piled up day in and day out in her large family’s small home. She didn’t want to disappoint her ailing mother, who cared tirelessly for an ever-growing number of children despite her incessant cough. And Margaret certainly didn’t want to be labelled a girl of “promise,” destined to become either a teacher or a mother—which seemed to be a woman’s only options.

As a feisty and opinionated young woman, Margaret Higgins Sanger witnessed and experienced incredible hardships, which led to her groundbreaking work as an advocate for women’s rights and the founder of Planned Parenthood. This fiery novel of Margaret’s early life paints the portrait of a young woman with the passion and courage to change the world.


RATING

4.5 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

WOW.

Now this is truly an incredible read.

This is my first time reading historical fiction and I am happy to say that this book is quite good and makes me even want to read more historical fiction out there! One of the aspects that I love about this book as it was set in the late 1890s and I have always wanted to read and experience it myself on how it was during that time, more specifically on how women were treated and respected by the society as a whole.

This book is a work of fiction, some might be true and some might be made up. However, the story felt real to me. The story truly described and showed the condition of how women are treated in the late 1890s in detail.

Margaret Louise Higgins Sanger‘s (Maggie, for short) story was about her hardship and poverty that she faced with both of her parents and an ever-growing number of siblings in a small house at Corning, New York. The daughters of the Higgins family worked day and night to scrub, wash, prepare and tidy the house and all of the humans inside it. The boys were not such a help either and that made the daughters worn out after calling it a day. Their father was a free-thinker, and this made him to be blacklisted and excluded from the society because of his such contradicting believes on God and religion. His father was not able to provide for the family well.

Education was Maggie’s only hope to get out of the house and to help her family escaping from the hardship that they had faced. She wanted to become a doctor, so she could learn how to treat patients. Her experience in facing extreme poverty has made her to become an advocate for women’s rights and the founder of Planned Parenthood.

At such a young age, she has learned and realised that women are not meant to stay at home doing chores only. Women are also equally equipped to work, vote and make a change in the society. Women deserve to be heard. She realised this because of his father, he was totally “free” and able to express his feelings strongly and Maggie envied him for that. She was very brave in giving speeches in school to express herself on why women should take part in the society.

I was not so sure of the ending, it was a bit too fast and blurry because the final part did not tell the readers on the Higgins’ wellbeing.

I have never read any of her biographies before and I am very much interested in reading them soon, to learn about her self-discovery and journey in advocating women’s right.

If you have the chance to read this, please do because this read will change your life.

Thank you Pansing for providing me this powerful read!

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Sabrina

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Review: Clownfish (Alan Durant)

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Genre: Children’s
Publisher: Walker Books Ltd
Publication date: November 1st 2018
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 219

Synopsis: 

~My Dad~

Species: Clownfish (Daddicus fishibum)
Habitat: The aquarium
Food: Fish flakes/cheeseburgers

Special note: 

After Dad’s funeral, I thought I’d never see him again. But when I visited the aquarium, there he was – only, he’d turned into a clownfish! I don’t think Mum’s ready to hear the news just yet. So for now, it’ll have to be my secret..


RATING

4 STARS!

HERE’S MY THOUGHTS!

After a very stressful week of committing to life, I would need a happy, light and easy read for me to devour please, thank you very much!

This book, Clownfish is a perfect read, initially I thought that this book was all about happiness and joy but I was wrong. It is heavier than that.

Clownfish is a moving story about friendship, love, family and heartache. Dak’s life with his family was unfortunately very short as his father has passed away due to heart disease. I felt for him because as a growing child, he truly needed the support from both of his parents. We saw his view after the transition with his life. Thankfully, his close friends were so kind and supportive of him and they always seemed concerned about Dak’s wellbeing.

He discovered something mind-blowing and unbelievable after his dad’s death. He kept this as a secret from everybody else and kept on focusing with his life until he neglected school. This was truly understandable as a child like him need time and space to recover.

My favourite part of this story was the relationship with his newly found mate, Violet, who was the niece to the owner of the aquarium that Dak has always visited. She reminded me of Darla in Finding Nemo because at first she was quite unbearable to begin with, but at the middle of the story, she became Dak’s best friend and they went through quite an adventure together.

Overall, I totally loved reading this story, it felt so honest yet poignant. I loved all the characters in this book, they all showed great characteristics and moral values.

This is my first time reading Alan Durant’s book and believe it or not, this masterpiece is his 100th book that he has written! This book is totally special to him, as the book is dedicated to his late father who died in 2016, Christopher Durant. And I think it is very special for me too.

Thank you so much Pansing Books for providing me this review copy! 

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Sabrina

Review: The Tales of Beedle The Bard Illustrated Edition (JK Rowling and Chris Riddell)

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Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: October 2nd 2018
Format: Hardcover, Illustrated Edition
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 160

This lovely book is now available in all good bookstores nearby!

Blurb from Goodreads:

A spectacular full-colour illustrated edition of J.K. Rowling’s fairytale classic The Tales of Beedle the Bard, with breathtaking illustrations by all-round genius and national treasure Chris Riddell.

The dazzlingly brilliant Chris Riddell brings his magical illustration talents to J.K. Rowling’s gloriously inventive The Tales of Beedle the Bard in a fully illustrated colour edition of this essential classic for Harry Potter fans. Translated from the runes by Hermione Granger, the volume includes ‘The Tale of the Three Brothers’, familiar to readers of Harry Potter from the crucial role it played in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Mischievous and witty, these five rollicking tales are a deeply satisfying read in the tradition of all great fables and fairytales. Kindnesses are rewarded and selfishness shown to be the ruin of many a wizard. Burping cauldrons, hairy hearts and cackling stumps are met along the way. Each of the tales is accompanied by a deliciously subversive and insightful commentary by Professor Albus Dumbledore, all brought vividly to life with Riddell’s trademark wit and elegance.

Former Waterstones Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell is the only illustrator to have won the Kate Greenaway Medal three times, and is brought together here for the first time with one of the world’s best loved storytellers in this new edition of J.K. Rowling’s fairytale classic.

Much loved by generations of witches and wizards since they first appeared in the fifteenth century, this beautifully illustrated edition is set to become a firm favourite at bedtime in non-magical households the world over.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard is published in aid of Lumos, an international children’s charity founded in 2005 by J.K. Rowling.


MY OVERALL RATING:

4.3 STARS

INDIVIDUAL RATING:

1. The Wizard and the Hopping Pot – 3.5 STARS
2. The Fountain of Fair Fortune – 4 STARS
3. The Warlock’s Hairy Heart – 5 STARS
4. Babbitty Rabbitty and her Cackling Stump – 4 STARS
5. The Tale of Three Brothers – 5 STARS (My favourite of all!)

HERE’S MY THOUGHTS!

After finishing the entire 7 books back to back (now I have reread it for 3 times), actually I don’t have the intention to read this additional and companion story. I feel most attracted to The Tale of the Three Brothers mainly because its importance to Harry, Dumbledore and Voldermort’s origin and story. Many things we can learn from these short and fictional stories.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard is compilation of short bedtime stories specifically written for young Wizards and Witches. It is like Cinderella, Snow White in the Muggle world! All of the moral values and knowledge received from these stories are tailored to young wizards for them to know what is right and what is wrong. This is to instill character and behaviour since young, so that they know what to do when they face obstacles. These stories are no different compared to the Muggle ones, they are all telling the same theme and subject, which is to always be kind to one another, to be never boastful when we thought that we have achieved our dreams, to be selfless and to always respect one another.

My favourite part of this book is definitely the commentary made by my favourite character ever, Albus Dumbledore. His absorbed and thoughtful insight on the story really made me understand the stories better. One of the things that I adore Albus is about his love and fascination towards Muggles.

I have no regrets receiving this Illustrated edition. All of the illustration are spot-on and flawless, and these are absolutely helpful to the reader for better visualisation and reading.

Right now I must purchase all of the Illustrated books and also the Crimes of Grindelwald screenplay as well! God I love this Wizarding World so much and I am eternally grateful to have known this universe.

Thank you so much Pansing Books for providing me this GORGEOUS review copy! 

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Sabrina

ARC Review: The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried (Shaun David Hutchinson)

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Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication date: February 19th 2019
Format: ARC Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 294

Blurb from Goodreads:

A good friend will bury your body, a best friend will dig you back up.

Dino doesn’t mind spending time with the dead. His parents own a funeral home, and death is literally the family business. He’s just not used to them talking back. Until Dino’s ex-best friend July dies suddenly—and then comes back to life. Except not exactly. Somehow July is not quite alive, and not quite dead.

As Dino and July attempt to figure out what’s happening, they must also confront why and how their friendship ended so badly, and what they have left to understand about themselves, each other, and all those grand mysteries of life.


RATING

3 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

This is my first time reading Shaun’s book and honestly I have high expectations since one of his books, We Are The Ants is a very well-loved books in the YA community.

The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried (yes, it is very mouthful!) is a story about friendship between long-lost ex-bestfriends who grew apart from each other. This story between Dino and July at first is very intriguing as I am very interested in reading male to female dynamic relationship that is not related to romance.

As the story proceeds, I cannot find any WOW factor, or any part of the book that is worth reading and impressive. The characters are very bland, they are extremely flawed and not interesting. I guess the author is trying to write characters with anti-hero qualities, the one who lacks the ‘conventional heroic attributes’ unlike what we see in movies or even books. Both of them also have opposite characteristics, one is passive and the other is hostile. The reason on why they grew apart is also so petty, that I think the relationship can be repaired by just only discussing the problems between them. The plot is also very forgettable and nothing special, at times I cannot even identify the conflict and storyline.

The one thing is really stood out to me is the theme of death. Someone’s death can truly change and effect our life as a whole. How the death can change their relationship. I guess that the author is trying to metaphorically explain the meaning and impact of someone’s death to people. However, it does not work for me.

I truly appreciate the LGBT references in the book as one of the main characters is gay and also about the support and understanding given by the people of him.

I am mildly disappointed by the book but it does not stop me to try and read Shaun’s other writings in the future.

Thank you Pansing Books for providing me a review copy of the book!

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Sabrina

 

Review: A Very Large Expanse of Sea (Tahereh Mafi)

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Blurb from Goodreads: 

It’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped.

Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She’s tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments—even the physical violence—she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears every day. So she’s built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. Instead, she drowns her frustrations in music and spends her afternoons break-dancing with her brother.

But then she meets Ocean James. He’s the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know Shirin. It terrifies her—they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds—and Shirin has had her guard up for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down.


RATING

3.5 STARS!

HERE’S MY THOUGHTS!

I have been waiting for so long to read this book and write the review for this highly anticipated read for 2018! I was honestly stoked when Tahereh finally decided to write a YA contemporary book because I knew that this book is going to be perfect. I have only read two of her books, which are the middle grade series; Furthermore and Whichwood. The books are nothing but perfect!

The unique part of this story is that this book gives us an insight on what it means to be a Muslim in a non-Muslim country after the tragedy of 9/11. We get to see Shirin’s journey on how she goes through her life as a 16-year-old student, from being a friend and facing the family dynamics in her household. This book is brutally honest and raw, different from her other masterpieces. There are no flowery writing inserted. All monologues from Shirin is just purely straight forward and truthful.

I highly appreciate Muslim hijabi girls representation in Young Adult books, because I think they are not well represented in the society. Muslims are often mistaken for bad things and they are always treated horribly by the society. Their devotion to God is always mistakenly understood to be extremism. It is not always easy for immigrants to live a peaceful life in a foreign land as people will always have bad things to say. It is even worse when there is a sickening tragedy that involves the lives of many people. One of them, who is Shirin would be badly affected by the aftermath. We see how the society, in a smaller context, the students in her school treat her. They won’t befriend her, assume her like she is invisible and also throw brutal racist remarks to her. Being a Muslim in a non-Muslim country is different from being a Muslim in Muslim country. While reading, I compare myself, between the situation in my country with the struggles of Shirin’s. I think that never in my lifetime that I would understand what she has gone through. I understand my privilege and I will never abuse it to downgrade other people. I feel angry while reading because Shirin is constantly challenged with the society’s expectation towards her. She is always violently punished for something that she has never done. Everyone deserves to live in the world without being harmed.

I learn so much from the book, what it feels like to be in a xenophobic and islamophobic world but I think I am just given a tiny glimpse about what it feels like to be a Muslim in a non-Muslim country. This book is very important for readers to devour into, because it makes us understand the prejudice towards muslims in America. Seeing all of these makes us wonder the status of our education. Has our education done a perfect job in educating our children? It is our job to ponder.

I adore the male lead, which is the love interest for Shirin. I like the relationship between Shirin and her love interest, however, I hate for the fact that the romance has taken over the whole purpose of the book. I would want the book to focus more on Shirin’s journey for self-discovery. The romance factor has defeated the sole purpose of the book. I at times don’t feel comfortable reading about their relationship because I think it is too forced, and it is used as a plot device. This is the only reason on why I don’t give this book a 5 star. I would have to say that I am mildly disappointed with the relationship part.

My most favourite part of the book is that Shirin is a close reflection of the writer herself. I have never read any book that is very private and written based on personal experience by the author and the fact that Tahereh has published a book that is very close to her is such an amazing thing. It makes the book much more authentic and honest. It shows that Tahereh is very brave to show the world that her story is important enough for readers to learn. 

I now know the meaning of the title of the book! Only those who have read it may understand the meaning of it! 😛

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Sabrina

Review: You Only Live Once (Jess Vallance)

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Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Publication date: August 23rd 2018
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 400

Blurb from Goodreads:

The start of a hilarious new teen series for fans of Geek Girl.

Gracie Dart has always worked hard and she’s got a wall covered with revision timetables and French verbs to prove it. But now GCSEs are behind her and she suddenly starts to think: what was the POINT of it all?

When Gracie thinks she’s dying of a disgusting tropical illness, she starts to worry she’s been wasting her best years being sensible. It’s like people say: you only live once – so isn’t it about time she started LIVING?
(OK, so the tropical illness turned out to be a fake-tan miscalculation. Anyone could make the same mistake.)

When Gracie decides to do something, she does it properly. Gracie Dart is about to live out her dreams. However embarrassing.


RATING

3 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

This book is totally aimed to students who have just finished school and trying to figure out what are the things that they want to do in life. By reading the synopsis, I can guarantee that the main character is going to have one helluva journey.

I truly enjoyed the concept of the book — trying to make the most out of life and being spontaneous. Gracie Dart is truly an excellent student, she scores well in her exams and turns down school trips just to be able to study at home. After finishing GCSE, she lives by the motto of “You Only Live Once”. We can see her doing spontaneous activities such as going for a horse-turned-to-a-donkey ride at beach, bungee jumping, trip to Paris with her sick grandmother and many challenging things that she has never done before. I imagine myself doing all of the things that Gracie has done while reading and wishing that I have guts to do that. I love it how this book discusses on the importance of relationship with friends and family as well as sexuality. Gracie is a lesbian and she has a great support system who truly supports her sexuality.

Gracie is the living reflection of a young adult who wants to do and try everything in life, but greatly vulnerable and sometimes undecided about on what they truly wants to do in life. Gracie is very spontaneous and brave, but she also pushes away people who truly care about her. I guess that is just the ups and downs of being a growing teenager. Even though I cannot connect thoroughly with her character, I love how the writer successfully connects the meaning and worth of life with Gracie’s story. Circumstances that happen in the story test Gracie’s view on the worth of knowledge learned from school towards to the reality of life. There are a few discussions on the quality of life, where she feels like quitting school. At some point of life, you will realise the ugly truth of the cycle of life. You have to work hard to earn. You cannot escape it. I feel very enlightened by the moral of the story. Sometimes in life, we do get carried away with life that we fail to realise the meaning of it.

The ending is okay, everything that I expect it to be. I like how Gracie tries to face the music after for what she has done. Gracie goes through some intense self-development and self-discovery in her journey, and that is why I can say that this book is one of the best coming-of-age story ever.

I look forward to read the next book of the series, To Be Perfectly Honest.

Thank you Pansing Books for providing a copy in exchange of an honest review.

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Sabrina

Review: Emergency Contact (Mary H. K. Choi)

38749034Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Simon Schuster Books
Publication date: March 27th, 2018
Format: ARC Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 394

Blurb from Goodreads:

For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.

Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him.

When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.


RATING

4.5 STARS

HERE’S MY THOUGHTS!

I read this gorgeous book in a day! You can imagine how good this book is.

The fact that Rainbow Rowell, one of my favourite authors who introduced me to Young Adult Contemporary books blurbed this book, I AM ALREADY PUMPED!

This is one of my most anticipated reads of 2018. Once I skimmed the synopsis when it was released, I was hooked and interested! This NYT Best Seller book did not disappoint at all! Even though this book received many mixed reviews on Goodreads, I truly enjoyed reading the story of Penny and Sam facing their inner demons and life obstacles. I was surprised that this book was actually a YA/NA contemporary. I don’t really read NA these days thus reading young adults who were trying to start their journey outside of their comfort zones was very special to me, as I am also searching and struggling.

Emergency Contact allows us to appreciate the growth of two struggling young adults who are finding the meaning of life and exploring the beauty of their friendship. I gravitate towards good friendship/relationship books, I love to see how relationships between two people starts to develop and bloom. I love Penny and Sam always find their ways to each other, their frankness in their relationship and also on how they depend on each other during hard times. The characters were realistic and fragile, there were times when I wanted to hug them so much because they were too vulnerable as they have went through so much in life 😦

The writing was good, for me it was fast paced as it kept me entertained and interested in reading till the end. I didn’t realise that the book was going to end until 360+ pages because I was so engrossed with Penny and Sam that I didn’t want it to end! I read somewhere that the writer is plotting on Book 2 and 3, so rest assured that there will be a sequel coming! YAY

Characters are not always perfect. Things in life change people, effect on how they react and think. One thing that truly disturbed my attention was the fact that Penny pushed her loved ones, especially her mom. I felt for her mom, because family always wants to be near us. I am no position to judge people on their relationships with their family, but take the time to appreciate them.

I would truly recommend this book to readers who would enjoy reading about blooming friendships who find peace in each other presence 🙂

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

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Sabrina