ARC Review: Thorn (Intisar Khanani)

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Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher:
 Hot Key Books
Publication Date: March 24th 2020
Format: ARC Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 456

Blurb from Goodreads:

A princess with two futures. A destiny all her own.

Between her cruel family and the contempt she faces at court, Princess Alyrra has always longed to escape the confines of her royal life. But when she’s betrothed to the powerful prince Kestrin, Alyrra embarks on a journey to his land with little hope for a better future.

When a mysterious and terrifying sorceress robs Alyrra of both her identity and her role as princess, Alyrra seizes the opportunity to start a new life for herself as a goose girl.

But Alyrra soon finds that Kestrin is not what she expected. The more Alyrra learns of this new kingdom, the pain and suffering its people endure, as well as the danger facing Kestrin from the sorceress herself, the more she knows she can’t remain the goose girl forever.

With the fate of the kingdom at stake, Alyrra is caught between two worlds and ultimately must decide who she is, and what she stands for.


RATING

3.5 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

TW: Abuse.

Thorn is a retelling of The Goose Girl and I haven’t read the original fairy tale. I am always interested in reading fairy tale retelling so this is a great start for me to try and read something new.

Princess Alyrra doesn’t want to be a princess. She longs for a normal life without her abusive brother and cold mother. However, one day, a king asks her to marry his son and as someone who wants to get away from the abuse, she agrees. Everything changes when her handmaiden swaps her body with Alyrra’s identity.

The first few chapters is enough to make me captivated with story. The plot is okay, enough to kept me reading till the end. The pace is fast at the beginning as many things happen and we get to see minor characters that contribute to the story. However, the pace declines in the middle of the story as they are many filler chapters that drags the story too much. I struggle through a few chapters because it is kinda monotonous. I understand that the story needs to slowly build up towards the climax, just as we see in many other fantasy books out there. The length of the book doesn’t do justice to the story. It would be better if the book is shorten to just 300 pages long.

I have read reviews and many express that the main character is too flawless. I get it, we want to see a perfect heroine in all of the books that we read, but we all have flaws.

Unfortunately for me, I am not invested in any of the characters in the book except for Alyrra and Kestrin. Maybe because there are too many characters to begin with and that makes the character development to slack. They are not memorable enough to be remembered. I am particularly interested in Alyrra’s relationship with Falada, but their time together is very short as something happens. I don’t understand why the author needs to that.

I appreciate that the author addresses issues like abuse and politics in the royals. We witness Alyrra is abused by her brother but no one bats an eye towards the issue. We see that the royals are not serious with the people’s welfare. I adore Alyrra’s criticism towards the King and its government in being complacent to care for its people. Corruption should be stopped, in any kind of levels.

I look forward to read more books from Intisar Khanani after this.

Thank you Pansing Books for sending Thorn in exchange of an honest review!

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Sabrina

ARC Review: Robin Hood (Robert Muchamore)

Genre: Young Adult 
Publisher:
 Hot Key Books
Publication Date: April 2nd 2020
Format: ARC Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 244

Synopsis

When his dad is framed for a robbery, Robin and his brother Little John are hounded out of Locksley and must learn to survive in the Sherwood forest, stretching three hundred kilometres and sheltering the free spirits and outlaws. But Robin is determined to do more than survive. Small, fast and deadly with a bow, he hatches a plan to join forces with Marion Maid, harness his inimitable tech skills and strike a blow against Gisborne and Sheriff Marjorie. 


RATING

4 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

After reading Arctic Zoo, I feel very much intrigued to read any other books written by Robert Muchamore. There’s something different about his stories that fascinates me. I have a soft spot for reading about rebellious teenagers fighting corruption and nefarious adults. It shows that anyone is able to put corruption to an end, regardless of what age and status.

Robin Hood is a modern age story of Robin Hood, a 12 year old kid who has a knack for archery and computers. He lives with his older brother, Little John and father, Ardagh. However, when his father is framed for a robbery that he has not done, both of them are forced to survive away from town. That’s where all adventure starts.

I truly love reading about Robin and his adventure in dealing with his father being thrown into jail. His bravery and loyalty to his father is something that must be praised for. I respect Robin because even though he is only 12, he has formed a solid stand for what is right. Stand up for what you believe is right, even if you stand alone. 

This is actually the first book to a four book series called Robin Hood, and the first book is called Hacking, Heists and Flaming Arrows. I genuinely thought that it is stand alone but after finishing Robin Hood, there are major plot points that are unsolved and for sure there will be a second book to explain it all. I surely didn’t expect a major plot twist to happen in the book and after that the direction of the story totally changes.

I look forward to more adventure and I cannot wait to see what Robin surprises us in the next book.

Thank you Pansing Books for sending me an ARC of Robin Hood!

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Sabrina

Review: The Tyrant’s Tomb (Rick Riordan)

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Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher:
 Puffin Books
Publication Date: September 24th 2019
Format: Paperback
Source: Times Reads
Page Count: 469

Blurb from Goodreads:

You will get to the Tiber alive. You will start to Jive.

I am Apollo
I will remember

The former God Apollo, cast out by his father, Zeus, is having a pretty rough time of it.

Well, for one thing, he’s called Lester. But being an awkward mortal teenager is the least of his worries.

Though he and his friends (some of them) have emerged from the Burning Maze, rescued the Oracle and lived to fight another day, they can’t escape the tragedy that has befallen them, or the terrible trials still to face.

So, with heavy heart, Apollo (OK, Lester) and Meg have a triumvirate still to defeat, oracles to rescue, and prophecies to decipher, so that the world may be saved, and Lester may ascend into the heavens to become Apollo once again.

But, right now, Caligula is sailing to San Francisco to deal with Camp Jupiter personally, and they have to get their first. Or risk its destruction . . .


RATING

4 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

My review for The Trials of Apollo series:

The Hidden Oracle
The Dark Prophecy
The Burning Maze

This is one of my most anticipated reads of the year. I’ve always enjoyed reading Rick Riordan’s books for the past few years, firstly with Percy Jackson and Hero of Olympus series because of its uniqueness in telling about Greek and Roman gods and mythologies. That is the reason why I continue reading The Trials of Apollo.

I also love that Rick Riordan incorporates his other books into The Trials of Apollo series because you can see the growth, development and change within the Percy Jackson’s world. Even though you will get confused with the old Greek and Roman’s god, goddesses and emperors, there is always a guide at the back of each book for you to refer.

I’ve always loved Lester as a character in The Trials of Apollo. He’s very different from other heroes like Percy Jackson. He’s a former God named Apollo, he is banished by his father to Earth and he has lost everything he knows including his sister, Artemis. His narrative is extremely amusing and that makes me truly entertained throughout this book. I also love Lester and Meg’s relationship, even though by contract Meg is Lester’s master, they are like family who understand and take care of each other in every way. There is a reference to Avengers: Infinity War in this book and I truly appreciate the pop culture reference in this world.

In this book, we meet characters from Heroes of Olympus series such as Reyna, Hazel, Frank Zhang and Ella the Harpy and it is great to see and read about their journey in protecting Lester and Camp Jupiter’s safety from the prophecy. By reading the ending, I can truly sense that we will meet characters from Percy Jackson series like Percy, Annabeth and Grover again soon because we are going to reach the end of The Trials of Apollo series, The Tower of Nero.

Now, we will have to wait for another year to pass by for The Tower of Nero. I’m doomed.

Thank you Times Reads for sending me a copy of The Tyrant’s Tomb!

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Sabrina

 

ARC Review: Fight Like A Girl (Sheena Kamal)

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Genre: Young Adult 
Publisher:
 Hot Key Books
Publication Date: March 10th 2020
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 224

Blurb from Goodreads:

The Beauty of the Moment meets Exit, Pursued by a Bear. Award-winning thriller writer Sheena Kamal delivers a kick-ass debut YA novel that will have fans crying out for more.

Love and violence. In some families they’re bound up together, dysfunctional and poisonous, passed from generation to generation like eye color or a quirk of smile. Trisha’s trying to break the chain, channeling her violent impulses into Muay Thai kickboxing, an unlikely sport for a slightly built girl of Trinidadian descent. Her father comes and goes as he pleases, his presence adding a layer of tension to Toronto’s east-end townhouse Trisha and her mom call home, every punch he lands on her mother carving itself indelibly into Trisha’s mind. Until the night he wanders out drunk in front of the car Trisha is driving, practicing on her learner’s permit, her mother in the passenger seat. Her father is killed, and her mother seems strangely at peace. Lighter, somehow. Trisha doesn’t know exactly what happened that night, but she’s afraid it’s going to happen again. Her mom has a new man in her life and the patterns, they are repeating.


RATING

3 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

I have to say that I am pretty much intrigued to read this book. The theme revolves around love and violence, something that is different and taboo in young adult fiction.

Unfortunately, I don’t enjoy this as much as I hope to. For the first 50 pages, I am engrossed to Trisha’s life especially with her Muay Thai journey and her father’s death. After that, the plot of the story declines and that makes me unable to understand this story as a whole and what the author is trying to convey. For the most part of my reading process, I am confused with plot line and there are also subplots to the story that makes it harder to follow as well. I have to say the aftermath of her father’s death is the complex subject in this book.

I really want to enjoy this book, however maybe it is not a good time for me to read this.

I would love to try and read other books from Sheena Kamal in the future.

Thank you Pansing Books for sending me an ARC of Fight Like A Girl!

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Sabrina

Review: Somebody Give This Heart a Pen (Sophia Thakur)

45998211._SY475_Genre: Young Adult Poetry
Publisher:
 Walker Books Ltd
Publication Date: October 3rd 2020
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 107

Blurb from Goodreads:

A compelling collection of poems that explores the emotions and experiences of growing up as a mixed-race woman.

From acclaimed performance poet Sophia Thakur comes a powerful new collection of poems exploring issues of identity, difference, perseverance, relationships, fear, loss and joy. The collection is arranged as life is: from youth to school, to home life, falling in love and falling straight back out again. The poems draw on the author’s experience as a young mixed-race young woman trying to make sense of a lonely and complicated world. With a strong narrative voice and emotional empathy, this is poetry that will resonate with all young people, whatever their background, and whatever their dreams. As she says, she hopes the poems will help readers “grow through what they go through”.


RATING

3 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

It has been a while since I read a poetry book. I don’t usually gravitate towards poetry, but once in a while I would love to read some to broaden my reading picks. I’ve read Milk and Honey and The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur and I enjoy them.

This book is divided to a few sections which are the process of life, from growing, waiting, breaking and growing again. It’s a poetry full of stories about race, politics, love, family, friendship and heartbreak.

I love parts where the author writes about her mom’s perseverance in life and I can totally relate it to mine. Mothers are always so kind yet so brave in dealing with obstacles. I cannot relate on the love and heartbreak part but I can feel the pain that the author feels.

Some poetry books are underdone, like just when you read someone’s diary. However, Somebody Give This Heart A Pen is not. The writing is just so brilliant with insightful and perceptive words that makes you crave for more.

There are many great verses in this one but this one verse truly caught my attention. Here it is:

“Do you find peace when you are alone? Or do you claw your laptop open. Chain you eyes to you phone. Trade your thoughts for someone else’s? Too busy to impose on yourself for a moment.”

Thank you so much Pansing Books for sending me a finished copy of Somebody Give This Heart A Pen.

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Sabrina

ARC Review: And The Stars Were Burning Brightly (Danielle Jawando)

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary46222725._SY475_.jpg
Publisher:
 Simon and Schuster UK
Expected Publication Date: March 5th 2020
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 388

Blurb from Goodreads:

An emotionally rich and current story of suicide, mental health, bullying, grief and growing up around social media.

When fifteen-year-old Nathan discovers that his older brother Al has taken his own life, his whole world is torn apart.
Al was special.
Al was talented.
Al was full of passion and light…so why did he do it?
Convinced that his brother was in trouble, Nathan begins to retrace his footsteps. And along the way, he meets Megan. Al’s former classmate, who burns with the same fire and hope, who is determined to keep Al’s memory alive. But when Nathan learns the horrifying truth behind his brother’s suicide, one question remains – how do you survive, when you’re growing up in the age of social media?


RATING

4 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

*UPDATED on October 10th 2019 – here’s the cover reveal for And The Stars Were Burning Brightly! Isn’t gorgeous? ❤

And The Stars Were Burning Brightly is a story about loss and grief. The moment I receive this book, I instantly feel that this is going to be a hard read. Stories like this are meant to be read in an uncomfortable way, because in no way that these subject are bearable for the readers to read. Raw stories makes us realize that we have to do so much in order to help those who are in need.

I’ve read many stories about loss and grief, and this book is definitely one of the most powerful and moving stories I’ve ever read. The author’s note is definitely shocking to me, because I don’t expect that I’m reading something that is so close to her life. We must applaud Danielle Jawando’s bravery and courage for crafting something from her life for readers to enjoy and ponder.

The main character, Nathan is definitely a moving voice of hope throughout the story. He’s fifteen years old, but he has endured a lot of obstacles in his life including having his father walked away from the family to losing his own brother, Al. He is truly determined to find out what actually had happened before his brother take away his own life, even though his brother has his plans all laid out for his future.

I truly appreciate the second perspective in the book by Megan. It shows that even after someone’s death, there is going to be a person who truly loves and supports you no matter what.

While reading this, I immensely feel why people have to be so cruel? Don’t they have hearts and mind to empathize and think rationally? It happens in real life and yet there are no real action taken to prosecute these bullies. In this book, none of the teachers are present to stop this cruelty from happening. It all starts with the teachers. If they are complacent to even care, then the students who witness the act must take immediate action. We have to stand up to bullies and tell them this is wrong. It is never right to insult someone based on their looks.

After checking on Goodreads, I notice that there will be a sequel and I am intrigued to know what’s next on Nathan and Megan’s story after this.

And The Stars Were Burning Brightly deserves to be on your TBR list next spring, so don’t forget to pre-order this book as soon as possible!

Thank you Pansing Book for providing me an ARC of And The Stars Were Burning Brightly! 

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Sabrina

 

Review: The M Word (Brian Conaghan)

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

Blurb from Goodreads:

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

Maggie Yates talks to her best friend Moya every day.

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

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

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

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


RATING

3 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sabrina