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

 

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Review: Finding Audrey (Sophie Kinsella)

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Blurb from Goodreads:

Audrey can’t leave the house. she can’t even take off her dark glasses inside the house.

Then her brother’s friend Linus stumbles into her life. With his friendly, orange-slice smile and his funny notes, he starts to entice Audrey out again – well, Starbucks is a start. And with Linus at her side, Audrey feels like she can do the things she’d thought were too scary. Suddenly, finding her way back to the real world seems achievable.

 

 

 


RATING

3 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

I am very intrigued to read this because this was definitely a hyped book back then in 2015, when the book was first released. Most people in Goodreads like the story, so I want to give it a try.

I kinda enjoy reading it, as the main issues discussed are heavy subjects, for example mental health issues such as social anxiety disorder and clinical depression. We read about Audrey’s daily struggles fighting her own self after being diagnosed and we get to see how that illness affects her family entirely. After the incident, her parents are so careful and meticulous of what their children do in their life to a point where the mother doesn’t even allow any video gaming in the house, because apparently it makes you tired and irritable, based on what she has read in the newspaper. Which is true by the way.

Throughout the book, she consults with her doctor and it is fascinating to see how the doctor tries to push the boundaries of what Audrey can do. It is not easy to take control of your anxiety, it will definitely take time. What I know from this book is that the people around the person is a vital part in recovering them. However, in the story, we don’t really know what is the incident that triggers the main character’s illnesses. I feel the writing is unfinished and lazy, as the story is incomplete. A little background story of what really happen won’t hurt a little because it really makes the difference. It makes the reader comprehend the story better and it will strengthen the story line.

Apart from that, there are many hilarious moments that make me smile while reading. Overall, an okay book to devour once in a while.

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Sabrina

Review: Everything, Everything (Nicola Yoon)

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Blurb from Goodreads:

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.


RATING

3 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

I would like to say that I have watched the book to movie adaptation first before reading the book. The film was perfect, from the brilliant characters to the powerful story. The plot was not something new, but I liked it. I really didn’t expect the twist at the end of the movie though.

For the book, I finished it in just one sitting. Not because the book was great, it’s because it was so easy to fly through. The chapters were so short I didn’t have a hard time deciphering her thoughts and feelings. What made my reading experience even faster was the fact that there were many illustrations about Maddy’s life, for example her breathing rate, text messages, emails and even flight tickets that were so adorable. At first, I was very interested to know how Maddy managed her life as a diagnosed SCID patient in a sterile environment, for example how she was homeschooled etc. However, her attention was instantaneously focused on this new boy who had just became her neighbour. That was when I lost my interest towards her. She turned out to be just like the rest of young adult female protagonists in other contemporary books.

I supported the main character to follow her dreams as she wanted to become free. She has spent her entire life living in her house for 18 years, if I were to live in a house for a week, I’ll be dead bored as well. However, I wasn’t a big fan of her decisions. For example, many of her decisions were truly overshadowed by her desire towards the love interest. She relied too much on him until it consumed her. In the book, she has done risky choices just to be with this guy without thinking about her own mother and health. As if she wouldn’t be able to live her life to the fullest if she didn’t meet the boy. Had there been a more profound way to push Maddy to understand why she needed to follow her dreams, I would definitely be okay with it.

I think I would enjoy this better when I was 17.

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Sabrina

Review: The Cheerleaders (Kara Thomas)

42861591._SY475_.jpgGenre: Young Adult Thriller
Publisher: Ember
Publication Date: August 6th 2019
Format: Paperback
Source: Times Reads
Page Count: 372

Blurb from Goodreads:

There are no more cheerleaders in the town of Sunnybrook.

First there was the car accident–two girls dead after hitting a tree on a rainy night. Not long after, the murders happened. Those two girls were killed by the man next door. The police shot him, so no one will ever know his reasons. Monica’s sister was the last cheerleader to die. After her suicide, Sunnybrook High disbanded the cheer squad. No one wanted to be reminded of the girls they’d lost.

That was five years ago. Now the faculty and students at Sunnybrook High want to remember the lost cheerleaders. But for Monica, it’s not that easy. She just wants to forget.

Only, Monica’s world is starting to unravel. There are the letters in her stepdad’s desk, an unearthed, years-old cell phone, a strange new friend at school. . . . Whatever happened five years ago isn’t over. Some people in town know more than they’re saying. And somehow, Monica is at the center of it all.

There are no more cheerleaders in Sunnybrook, but that doesn’t mean anyone else is safe.


RATING

3 STARS

HERE’S MY THOUGHTS!

TW: Sexual assault, statutory rape, abortion, suicide, pedophilia and depression.

Apart from reading contemporary and fantasy books, I am always drawn to crime and mystery stories. I can even immerse myself watching crime stories on the television for hours. So when I am given the chance to read The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas, I am extremely thrilled to read it.

I fly through this book so easily due to its compulsive nature and easy readability. This kind of book makes you hungry for more. Even though it is a fast read, I cannot help but feel that the story is very heavy, as it discusses about real issues surrounding teenagers. Trigger warning should be placed at the beginning of the book to avoid harm.

The premise is interesting enough for me to follow, but there are no surprising revelations that make me fell out of the chair. When the plot starts to be so predictable, that’s when it becomes so formulaic. Most of the story is told from Monica’s perspective, but we do have bits of Jennifer’s point of view leading up to the cheerleader’s death. It is terrifying (but not so surprising!) to see how the mysteries started to reveal.

I truly appreciate the female relationship in this book, between Monica and Ginny who always support each other, rather than showing girls who backstab one another.

Unfortunately for me, the ending is so anticlimactic. I don’t like how the story ends because I think it can be even better. To be honest, I can easily predict the person who is responsible for the deaths. At first, you will doubt any character that you meet in the story and anything that you think you know. But after a while, you can get the gist of the story already.

All in all, I wish the book has a twistier mystery to reveal. It is an okay book and I know that there are better thriller books out there. I hear good things about Kara Thomas’ Little Monsters, so I am excited to try that one out.

Special thanks to Times Reads for providing me a finished copy of The Cheerleaders.

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Sabrina

ARC Review: Jackpot (Nic Stone)

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Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publisher: Simon and Schuster UK
Publication Date: December 26th 2019
Format: ARC Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 343

Blurb from Goodreads:

From the author of the New York Times bestseller Dear Martin –which Angie Thomas, the bestselling author of The Hate U Give,called “a must read”–comes a pitch-perfect romance that examines class, privilege, and how a stroke of good luck can change an entire life. 

Meet Rico: high school senior and afternoon-shift cashier at the Gas ‘n’ Go, who after school and work races home to take care of her younger brother. Every. Single. Day. When Rico sells a jackpot-winning lotto ticket, she thinks maybe her luck will finally change, but only if she–with some assistance from her popular and wildly rich classmate Zan–can find the ticket holder who hasn’t claimed the prize. But what happens when have and have-nots collide? Will this investigative duo unite…or divide?

Nic Stone, the New York Times bestselling author of Dear Martin and Odd One Out, creates two unforgettable characters in one hard-hitting story about class, money–both too little and too much–and how you make your own luck in the world.


RATING

4.5 STARS

HERE’S MY THOUGHTS!

I am so happy to receive the ARC for Jackpot from Pansing because I am dying to read new content from Nic Stone. The moment I finished reading the last page of Dear Martin last year, I knew Nic Stone was going to be my favourite author!

Here’s my review for Dear Martin.

I love Nic Stone’s writing style and how she creates her own stories and touches the readers with her writing. I love how she always successfully writes readable stories about amazing and diverse characters with such important and raw issues.

In this book, we are told from the perspective of Rico, who is a seventeen-year-old who splits her time outside school juggling between working and looking after her younger brother, Jax. I am really touched by Rico’s life and how she struggles to meet ends meet everyday without complaining. It hit me so hard that a teenager is working day and night to make her family happy.

I really like Zan, the supporting character of this story. His addition to Jackpot is so heartwarming and sweet. I love how they are always there for each other, during good or bad times. I love watching Zan’s growth too, as he slowly understands the life of the average like Rico’s.

There are many issues discussed in the book that really caught my interest while reading. Jackpot discusses about race, socioeconomic status, health care in America and also about parental pressure. There are stories about the complexities about lottery and what happens if you mismanage your savings and it truly gives me an insight on how the world of lottery works. Poverty is also a main issue. We get to see the harsh truth of being poor in America looks like. No one should ever live like Rico did. If a basic thing like healthcare has become a business, then we really should check ourselves.

One of the unique things in Jackpot are the alternate chapters narrated by inanimate and random things like Lego blocks, lottery ticket etc. This is such an interesting way to provide an outside perspective towards Rico’s life.

All in all, I really enjoyed reading Jackpot. Nic Stone has done it again! I will be the first in line when Nic Stone drops her new book.

Special thanks to Pansing for providing me this ARC.

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Sabrina

Review: A Torch Against the Night (Sabaa Tahir)

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Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: August 29th 2017 (First published August 30th 2016)
Format: Paperback
Source: Times Reads
Page Count: 452

Blurb from Goodreads:

Elias and Laia are running for their lives. After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.

Laia is determined to break into Kauf—the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison—to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars’ survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom.

But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene—Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike.

Bound to Marcus’s will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own—one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape…and kill them both.


RATING

4.5 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

It has been a while since I’ve read something so dark and intense. That’s probably the reason why I managed to read the book just in a day. Frankly speaking, at first I was scared that I won’t be able to enjoy this book as much because it has been three years since I read An Ember in the Ashes so, it is safe to say that I didn’t remember any important details from the first book. Besides, I remembered what I initially felt about the book once I finished reading it, that I was aware that some of the plot lines were similar to fantasy books I’ve read before, to a point where I went to watch reviews on BookTube to validate my opinion and apparently some BookTubers also agreed on this.

A Torch Against the Night continues exactly where the first one left off. The first few chapters are so engaging and that makes me so pumped to continue the rest of the book. We receive so many new information in this second book regarding the characters and their origins and that shows how everything either it is big or small plays into a larger story. I love character-driven stories because you get to see how they evolve and change from time to time. For instance, Laia, Elias and Helene. Sabaa Tahir writes them as human beings with instincts and feelings, rather than just plot devices to carry out the story. All of their acts in the story are supported by their own thinking process and not influenced by any other entity. I also love that the characters evolve so much in this book, if to compare with the first one. I absolutely love Helene’s character progression, where she grows as a human being by realizing and reflecting to her past doings and mistakes. I cannot wait to see where the story leads her in A Reaper at the Gates!

All in all, this book is truly a PAGE-TURNER. Once you read this, you cannot stop and when you finish it, you will crave for more. Like I do.

Thank you Times Reads for providing me this wonderful copy of A Torch Against the Night!

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Sabrina

 

ARC Review: Into The Crooked Place (Alexandra Christo)

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

Blurb from Goodreads:

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

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

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

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

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

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


RATING

3 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

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

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

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

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

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

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Sabrina