Review: All Fall Down (Sally Nicholls)

44166048._SY475_Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction
Publisher:
 Anderson Press Ltd
Publication Date: September 5th 2019
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 267

Blurb from Goodreads:

A deadly contagion races through England…

Isabel and her family have nowhere to run from a disease that has killed half of Europe. When the world she knows and loves ends for ever, her only weapon is courage.

The Black Death of 1349 was the deadliest plague in human history. All Fall Down is a powerful and inspiring story of survival in the face of real-life horror.


RATING

2 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW

As much as I want to like to book, I really don’t enjoy reading this at all. Don’t get me wrong, I love reading historical fictions. But this one doesn’t really appeal to me like the others that I have read before.

Before reading, I feel excited to read this because I have always wanted to read about The Black Death that killed half of Europe. I really want to read about what were the acceptance and perspective from the people towards this deadliest plague.

However, the characters inside the books turns me off. I feel nothing about them at all. I feel I am supposed to empathize and sympathize with the characters and the situation that they were dealing with but the writing doesn’t allow me to do it. The story and writing feels dull and stagnant that I literally struggle to continue reading it because it is too boring.

I really wish that I like this book, but sorry to say that I don’t.

Thank you Pansing Books for sending me a copy of All Fall Down.

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Sabrina

ARC Review: The Last Paper Crane (Kerry Drewery)

Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction
Publisher:
 Hot Key Books
Publication Date: April 2nd 2020
Format: ARC Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 287

Blurb from Goodreads:

1945, Hiroshima: Ichiro is a teenage boy relaxing at home with his friend Hiro. Moments later there is a blinding flash as the horrific nuclear bomb is dropped. With great bravery the two boys find Hiro’s five year-old sister Keiko in the devastated and blasted landscape. With Hiro succumbing to his wounds, Ichiro is now the only one who can take care of Keiko. But in the chaos Ichiro loses her when he sets off to find help.

Seventy years later, the loss of Keiko and his broken promise to his dying friend are haunting the old man’s fading years. Mizuki, his grandaughter, is determined to help him. As the Japanese legend goes, if you have the patience to fold 1,000 paper cranes, you will find your heart’s desire; and it turns out her grandfather has only one more origami crane to fold…

Narrated in a compelling mix of straight narrative, free verse and haiku poems, this is a haunting and powerful novel of courage and survival, with full-page illustrations by Natsko Seki.


RATING

4 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

I am excited to receive this from Pansing as I am very much intrigued to read on historical events that happen especially in Asia. I want to not only understand about the history behind the incident, but to read about human stories, the people who have suffered most, the futures miss and the guilt that the survivors felt.

I read this just in one sitting due to its straight narrative mixed with free verses and haiku poems that are easy to understand. The language used is also simple to comprehend as I don’t have any difficulty in reading it. The story is told by the perspective of a teenage boy called Ichiro, a seventeen year old when the atomic bombings of Hiroshima happened.

Delving into the story, we see how big the destruction were after the incident. Hiroshima felt like the end of the world because everything was dark, dusty and destroyed. People were all scattered around and buildings were demolished to ashes. I cannot imagine living in the time of war when people were scared all the time because anything could happen to them in a heartbeat. There are illustrations made by Natsko Seki to further describe the aftermath of the bombings.

We can see that even after seventy years, Ichiro still remembers the incident and bears the guilt. It shows how the memories still stay with the victims till the very end of their lives. The message that we receive from The Last Paper Crane is we must continue to survive even though we have lost our loved ones.

I also search about the meaning of crane in Japan. Based on my research, crane is a mystical creature and it represents good fortune and longevity. It was believed that if one folded 1000 origami crane, one’s wish would come true. It’s heartwarming because Ichiro owned a book called The Tale of Genji and it was 1000 pages long. Upon searching her friend’s sister, he folded many origami cranes using the pages inside of the book for good luck. It is so wonderful how the story starts to unfold in the end with the last origami crane that Ichiro folded.

After finishing The Last Paper Crane, I would definitely pick up more reads on Hiroshima bombings.

Thank you Pansing Books for sending me The Last Paper Crane in exchange of an honest review!

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Sabrina

Review: Blood Heir (Amélie Wen Zhao)

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Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher:
 Delacorte Press
Publication Date: November 19th 2019
Format: Hardback
Source: Times Reads
Page Count: 464

Blurb from Goodreads:

This hot debut is the first book in an epic new series about a princess hiding a dark secret and the con man she must trust to clear her name for her father’s murder.

In the Cyrilian Empire, Affinites are reviled. Their varied gifts to control the world around them are unnatural—dangerous. And Anastacya Mikhailov, the crown princess, has a terrifying secret. Her deadly Affinity to blood is her curse and the reason she has lived her life hidden behind palace walls.

When Ana’s father, the emperor, is murdered, her world is shattered. Framed as his killer, Ana must flee the palace to save her life. And to clear her name, she must find her father’s murderer on her own. But the Cyrilia beyond the palace walls is far different from the one she thought she knew. Corruption rules the land, and a greater conspiracy is at work—one that threatens the very balance of her world. And there is only one person corrupt enough to help Ana get to its core: Ramson Quicktongue.

A cunning crime lord of the Cyrilian underworld, Ramson has sinister plans—though he might have met his match in Ana. Because in this story, the princess might be the most dangerous player of all.


RATING 

4.5 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

I finish Blood Heir today and wow, what a ride.

I have been so interested to get my hands on Blood Heir since the news about alleged claims on the ARC. I’ve read web posts regarding that matter and I want to applaud Amélie Wen Zhao for being so brave in handling this subject.

Blood Heir is a dark retelling of Anastasia and is set in Russian-esque setting. Blood Heir revolves around affinite indenturement, which discusses about forced labor among the affinites, who possess magical abilities, or as quoted in the book, “a person who has a connection to physical or metaphysical elements, ranges from a heightened sense of element to ability to manipulate or generate the element.”

In the book, they are forced to obey to their master, for example doing performances for the rich as a form of entertainment, like a circus. They are physically and mentally controlled so they are unable to fight for themselves. The author has stated that the story is based on her extensive research on indentured labor specifically from her heritage. What I can say is that the author does a decent job in telling us the features of indentured labor in the story incisively. It’s important that we acknowledge global problems like indenture labor so that we understand the history behind it.

There are not many fantasy books that can keep me hooked from start till the end. Yes, as you have guessed, Blood Heir keeps me hooked. From the first page, I am totally engrossed with the story. The synopsis sounds so cliché, but trust me once you’re in this book, you are in for roller coaster ride. The author does a great job in handling the pacing. The narration is consistent enough to make me continue reading. For the writing, it is wonderfully done. It’s impossible to believe that this is a debut novel because the writing is fantastic.

The two main characters, Ana and Ransom are quite interesting. Their development are fleshed out. Both have different motivations but their mission is the same. I like the way the author writes about the style of point of view between Ana and Ransom. They are written via third person so it gives the readers more time to explore and decide what their motives are. The author also gives enough background information for Ana and Ransom so it is interesting to see how the story unfolds at the end.

The whole message from this book is about self acceptance. Ana, from the beginning of the book, doubts on her abilities and sees herself as a monster who destroys her family to realizing that people cannot change what they are born with, however it is our choices that depict what we truly are.

I am happy that my expectations are met, however I am sad that we have to wait a year for second book, Red Tigress to release.

Highly recommend this engaging story to YA Fantasy lovers.

Thank you Times Reads for sending me a finished copy of Blood Heir in exchange of an honest review.

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Sabrina

ARC Review: Tweet Cute (Emma Lord)

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Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publisher:
 Wednesday Books
Publication Date: January 21st 2020
Format: ARC Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 358

Blurb from Goodreads:

Meet Pepper, swim team captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming ― mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger’s massive Twitter account.

Enter Jack, class clown and constant thorn in Pepper’s side. When he isn’t trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, he’s busy working in his family’s deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time.

All’s fair in love and cheese ― that is, until Pepper and Jack’s spat turns into a viral Twitter war. Little do they know, while they’re publicly duking it out with snarky memes and retweet battles, they’re also falling for each other in real life ― on an anonymous chat app Jack built.

As their relationship deepens and their online shenanigans escalate ― people on the internet are shipping them?? ― their battle gets more and more personal, until even these two rivals can’t ignore they were destined for the most unexpected, awkward, all-the-feels romance that neither of them expected.


RATING

5 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

I am so happy to receive Tweet Cute by Emma Lord! I’ve heard great things about it and the positive reviews definitely make me even interested in reading it. It’s been a while since I read a cute contemporary so, this is good choice for me.

By chapter two, I am definitely hooked with the story. Tweet Cute is very interesting and enjoyable because it is about two teenagers whom each families own a fast-food chain in New York. I am very entertained in delving into their lives with their families’ deli and life at school. I also find it fascinating to read about family business because it shows how each and everyone in the family has their own role in making the business successful.

This sweet and fun story also involves baking which is my favorite thing in the world. This book will make you drool for desserts like cakes, pies, milkshakes and grill cheese during the day.

Amid all of the social media feud among the two fast food franchise, Tweet Cute is an engaging story about family loyalty and reaching your own goals. Both Pepper and Jack have their own doubts to continue their family business. What I love is that their families are truly supportive of their interests even though it means leaving the family.

If I were to tell you about my experience reading Tweet Cute, you would know that I am totally hooked from the start till the end of the story. There is not any dull moments for me at all and if I put the book down to do something else, I would always be itching to get back into reading the book. That’s how good Tweet Cute is. I get attached to Pepper and Jack’s life so much that I am emotionally engaged with their feelings and emotions.

Tweet Cute will make a brilliant movie, I tell you. The story, settings and characters are a perfect fit to make a romcom movie. I really hope that in the future any directors will adapt this book into a movie because it is a great story with such valuable insights on life.

I would totally recommend this adorable YA contemporary. I will probably reread this book next year on its release date, just to celebrate this wonderful debut novel with other readers who will enjoy this as much as I do.

Thank you Pansing Books for sending me this cute ARC, Tweet Cute in exchange of an honest review!

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Sabrina

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