ARC Review: Clap When You Land (Elizabeth Acevedo)

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Genre: Young Adult Contemporary, Poetry
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Publication Date: May 5th 2020
Format: ARC Hardback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 417

Blurb from Goodreads:

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…

In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.

Separated by distance – and Papi’s secrets – the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered. And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.

Papi’s death uncovers all the painful truths he kept hidden, and the love he divided across an ocean. And now, Camino and Yahaira are both left to grapple with what this new sister means to them, and what it will now take to keep their dreams alive.

In a dual narrative novel in verse that brims with both grief and love, award-winning and bestselling author Elizabeth Acevedo writes about the devastation of loss, the difficulty of forgiveness, and the bittersweet bonds that shape our lives.


RATING

4 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

I’ve never read anything from Elizabeth Acevedo but whenever I stumbled across reviews of her other books, there were always praises and positive feed backs. This was my first time reading Elizabeth Acevedo’s masterpiece, I could proudly say that I enjoyed reading Clap When You Land.

The theme of Clap When You Land was about grief and trying to make beauty out of it. The theme was written in such a beautiful and moving way that touched the readers’ heart to the core.

To be honest, it took me a few chapters to differentiate the two narrators between Camino and Yahaira because the narration was too similar with one another as initially they were both trying to grasp the reality of their father’s demise. The emotional connection between Camino and Yahaira was intensified along the book as if they have bonded before and that was truly special and sweet. They have lived through separate lives before the incident only to realize that they have this familial connection that eventually brought them together.

I am such a fan of free-verse poetry in general so reading this was totally smooth sailing. I didn’t have any problems in reading and understanding the story itself because the author did a great job in building the plot slowly to make the readers familiar with the characters and setting first.

All in all, Clap When You Land is a beautiful story that showcases about the determination and strength of two sisters.

Thank you Pansing Books for sending me Clap When You Land in exchange of an honest review.

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Sabrina

ARC Review: Are You Watching? (Vincent Ralph)

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Genre: Young Adult Thriller
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication Date: February 6th 2020
Format: Paperback
Source: Times Reads
Page Count: 371

Blurb from Goodreads:

A page-turning new YA thriller for the social media age, perfect for fans of A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder and One Of Us Is Lying.

Ten years ago, Jess’s mother was murdered by the Magpie Man.

She was the first of his victims but not the last.

Now Jess is the star of a YouTube reality series and she’s using it to catch the killer once and for all.

The whole world is watching her every move.

And so is the Magpie Man.


RATING 

3.5 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

When I was told that Are You Watching? is perfect for Karen M. McManus’ fans, I was sold! I’ve never read her books and based on reviews, they’re really critically acclaimed by readers.

The premise of Are You Watching? is definitely the main factor on why I choose to read this, which revolves around a YouTube star catching this serial killer named Magpie Man who once killed her mother. With the help of the internet, Jessica hopes to increase awareness about this issue and find clues to catch this perpetrator. Chosen with other four applicants, Jessica feels the need to present a ‘hook’ on the first episode of the show to make her stand out from her other contenders.

Even though this is YA book, in my opinion, the narration seems to come from a 12 year old. I am not sure why the author writes Jessica to have immature thoughts but it does not suit Jessica’s image as a 17 year old.

There is no denying that thriller books are such page turner, same goes to Are You Watching?. In addition, the short chapters in the book makes it easier and faster to read. The book is also fast paced and easily digestible, as the author writes it to be so gripping. The chapters also usually ends with a cliffhanger, so it makes you really want to read the next one.

To be honest, the ending is kinda disappointing and underwhelming. I still have questions on why the killer did all of the killings. That bothers me the most, considering the Magpie Man has killed over 10 women.

All in all, Are You Watching? is a thriller book that keeps you at the edge of the seat at most times and makes you root for Jessica so bad in order to catch Magpie Man.

Special thanks to Times Reads for sending Are You Watching? in exchange of an honest review.

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Sabrina

 

ARC Review: Yes No Maybe So (Becky Albertalli & Aisha Saeed)

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Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s UK
Publication Date: February 4th 2020
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 440

Blurb from Goodreads

Jamie Goldberg is cool with volunteering for his local state candidate – as long as he’s behind the scenes. There’s no way he’d ever knock on doors to ask people for their votes…until he meets Maya.

Maya Rehman’s having the worst Ramadan ever. Her best friend is too busy to hang out, her summer trip is cancelled, her parents are separating and now her mother thinks the solution to her problems is political canvassing – with some awkward guy she hardly knows …

Going door to door isn’t exactly glamorous, but maybe it’s not the worst thing in the world. After all, the polls are getting closer – and so are Maya and Jamie. Mastering local activism is one thing. Navigating the cross-cultural crush of the century is another thing entirely.


RATING

4 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

You have no idea how excited I was when I received this ARC in the mail.

This is my first time reading a book that is written by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed and man, they are truly great writers! They can write a YA book over 500 pages and I will never get bored.

At first, I thought I was going to read about teenagers and their problems with school and young relationships and I was definitely wrong. It is more than that.

Yes No Maybe So is about two teenagers with political aspirations to change America for the better. It is a moving moment for me to read the message from the two authors, saying that the 2016 election sparked the whole idea of Yes No Maybe So.

Yes No Maybe So is about Jamie and Maya, whom both have different practices of faith, work together on a campaign for a special election. They spend time together during the summer break to canvass and knock people’s door to encourage people to vote. They certainly have the bravery to do that because not everyone is welcoming enough to let a stranger preaches about politics. However, they overcome that obstacles to fight for the election. On the other hand, Maya is having another crisis at home as her parents are on a brink of separation. Her world is even more worst when her own best friend is busy for college and ignores her for a new roommate.

I love the setting of the book, which is during Ramadan. I can somehow relate to Maya because it is definitely tiring to do volunteer work when you are fasting and she makes it through nonetheless. I love the time when she spends at the mosque to break fast and it shows how the Muslim community can also socialize with other non-Muslims during this holy month.

I appreciate the family relationships between Maya and her family. Even though her parents are not on good terms, they make time and effort to support Maya during her canvassing journey. They reward Maya with a car because of her efforts to involve in the election. Her parents talking about the act and consequences of interracial dating is a highlight from the book because not all parents are understanding enough to let their kids date a non-Muslim. It shows how concern and open-minded they are as parents.

It is also interesting to read about Jamie’s background as he is Jewish and how Jewish holidays are celebrated. I applaud how diverse this book is and it shows how America is build based on diversity.

It is refreshing to see a YA book talks about politics. Even though Jamie and Maya are currently too young to vote, the political scene of their area opens their minds towards the political issues surrounding America, for example the bill where it targets Muslim women wearing scarves. It is a good opportunity to explore this area to enlighten our young generation how serious and detrimental this issue is.

I love it when they are also pop culture references such as Matilda, The Good Place and The Office. I am currently in the midst of binge watching The Good Place and I am surprised how coincidental the timing is.

All in all, I highly recommend this book to those who are interested in some politics and in for some romance.

Special thanks to Pansing Books for sending me Yes No Maybe So in exchange of an honest review.

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Sabrina

Review: Deep Secret (Berlie Doherty)

Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Anderson Press
Publication Date: January 2nd 2020
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 253

Blurb from Goodreads:

Grace put out her hand, almost touching the mirror. Her image did the same.
‘There’s another world in there.’
‘We could float in and out of it.’

Deep in a Derbyshire valley live two girls, twins, so alike that even their family can’t tell them apart. But tragedy is waiting. When the valley is sold to be flooded for a huge dam, the villagers are forced to leave their homes. Deep secrets are uncovered. New characters enter their lives and desires, love and grief come to the surface.


RATING

2 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

I was very much confused by this book. Initially I expected it to be set in a modern era, however it was set to be a few years after World War 2. So, the setting was kinda dull and flat for me mainly because the only thing that the kids in this book wanted to do was to get married and have kids.

Deep Secret was loosely inspired by the story of building of Ladybower reservoir in North Derbyshire, England. The history behind the construction was pretty interesting, but this story wasn’t. I was hoping to get more from what was explained in the synopsis of the book.

I knew that the book had sad elements in it as they were so many tragedies that happened with the characters, but I couldn’t evoke any kind of emotions.

SPOILER DISCUSSION COMING UP

It was so bloody stupid that the mother couldn’t identify and compare which and who was Madeleine and Grace. When reading the book, I was frustrated that the Mother herself couldn’t tell which one was the dead and alive child.

SPOILER ENDS

All in all, it’s not a book that I will read again.

Thank you Pansing Books for sending me Deep Secret in exchange of an honest review.

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Sabrina

ARC Review: Break the Fall (Jennifer Iacopelli)

45993641._SY475_Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publisher: Hodder Children’s Books
Publication Date: February 20th 2020
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 322

Blurb from Goodreads:

Audrey Lee is going to the Olympics.

A year ago, she could barely do a push up as she recovered from a spine surgery, one that could have paralyzed her. And now? She’s made the United States’ gymnastics team with her best friend, Emma, just like they both dreamed about since they were kids. She’s on top of the world.

The pressure for perfection is higher than ever when horrifying news rips the team apart. Audrey is desperate to advocate for her teammate who has been hurt by the one person they trusted most–but not all the gymnasts are as supportive.

With the team on the verge of collapse, the one bright spot in training is Leo, her new coach’s ridiculously cute son. And while Audrey probably (okay, definitely) shouldn’t date him until after the games, would it really be the end of the world?

Balancing the tenuous relationship between her teammates with unparalleled expectations, Audrey doesn’t need any more distractions. No matter what it takes, she’s not going to let anyone bring them down. But with painful revelations, incredible odds, and the very real possibility of falling at every turn, will Audrey’s determination be enough?


RATING

4 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

TW: Sexual assault.

I don’t usually read sports fiction, but I can truly say that this story is one of the best YA books out there. When I read the blurb, I knew that I need to read this instantly. And yes, I was hooked from page one. Sports in YA contemporary is a rare genre so I was totally interested in reading Break the Fall.

One of the things that made me truly intrigued in Break the Fall was the subject discussed in the book, about sexual assault that happen in the sports scene. Even though the author did not explicitly elaborate that Break the Fall was inspired by the news of sex abuse scandal surrounding the USA gymnastic team doctor, I knew that this book is a nod towards that issue. It is important that we acknowledge and discuss about mature issues in YA books like sexual assault to make people understand how serious and detrimental it is to the victims and people around them.

Apart from that, Break the Fall was about the journey of Audrey Lee and her friends in achieving gold for Olympics. Since we are close to Japan 2020, this book was great start to ignite our Olympics spirit. It was refreshing to read about their lives as a gymnast, from their full schedule of never ending practices to their journey during the Olympics. I truly enjoyed reading about Audrey’s life where she balanced her time between her family, friends and gymnastics.

What I liked about Audrey was her perseverance and courage in fighting her own self and facing the obstacles in gymnastics. I also liked her relationship and dynamics between all the gymnasts and it shows that they have great sportsmanship. The competitive nature in sport made them truly complicated and stressful sometimes but they handled the situation very well.

The other subject discussed in the book was disappointments when we fail to reach our dream. It is hard to accept that we are not enough to reach our dreams, but we just have to pick ourselves up and try again until we achieve them.

It was refreshing when Jennifer Iacopelli wrote about woman of color in the sports scene. Audrey Lee is Korean-American, so seeing her dominating the Olympics was totally inspiring at the same time.

I also liked the romance factor in Break the Fall. I adored Audrey’s relationship with the love interest, Leo Adams. They always supported each other on what they work on. That’s relationship goals.

All in all, I really liked it. It is truly Sabrina-approved.

Thank you Pansing Books for sending me Break the Fall by Jennifer Iacopelli.

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Sabrina

Review: A Heart So Fierce and Broken (Brigid Kemmerer)

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Genre: Children
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Publication Date: January 7th 2020
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 445

Blurb from Goodreads:

Find the heir, win the crown.
Win the crown, save the kingdom.

Harper has freed Prince Rhen from the curse that almost destroyed his kingdom. But all is not well; rumours are rife that there is a rival heir with a stronger claim to the throne and that ‘Princess’ Harper of Disi is nothing but a fraud.

Grey has fled the castle carrying a terrible secret. When he is discovered by soldiers and returned to Ironrose by force, Grey’s allegiances begin to shift. And as he grows closer to an enemy princess, he is forced to decide whether he will stand against Rhen for the crown he never wanted.


RATING

4.5 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW

Here’s my review for A Curse So Dark and Lonely.

Despite the mixed reviews, I actually loved this book.

I originally thought that this story would be about Harper and Rhen and it turned out it was not. I was also quite skeptical on what this story would offer after the conclusion of the first book. It turned out that I was truly surprised with the story as there were actually more conflicts and characters that we have yet to meet.

I read the first book back in September 2018 and I read it just in a single sitting. The story truly hooked my attention from the first page with its unique and brilliant cast and plot. Having known that there would be a sequel, I couldn’t be more happier to support this series.

A Heart So Fierce and Broken was mainly told from the perspectives of Grey and Lia Mara. My favorite characters from the series are Harper and Grey, so I was so pleased that we get to spent more time with Grey and witness his development and change from what had happened in the first book. The settings of the book for this time around was mainly outside of Ironrose Castle, so we get to see many other places, kingdoms and royals that we didn’t get to see before. What I liked about it was there was a geographical map that exhibited Emberfall showing cities and physical features. It truly helped me to read about the background and history of Emberfall.

This book was a lot different from the first one. It was certainly a dramatic shift, as if like AHSFAB was a standalone book. Firstly, the motivation of characters were different. Grey has a different plan now as he’s now the heir to the throne. We see his character development from being a guardsman to Rhen to being someone who could stop his governance. The story was very different as well as the main plot was to unite the ties between the two kingdoms in the expense of baiting Grey, the heir to the throne. So, we get to see a lot of politics in this one.

I have to applaud Brigid Kemmerer for writing a really fast paced fantasy book. The writing was brilliant and wonderful and the pacing truly kept me engaged till the end. I appreciate it when an author does not repeat points in the each chapter of a book and just relies on the reader’s intelligence and consciousness to remember the story. It shows that the author trusts us with the story.

Every great book has its weaknesses. What I didn’t like was we didn’t see much of Rhen and Harper in this book as if they were not important in this story at all. I want to read more of their point of view in this book to show that they were also involved in this story. Rhen was also so off-putting in AHSFAB, unlike himself in the first book. However, it was revealed that there was a twistier plot twist at the end of the story, so I could understand why he behaved that way. Unfortunately, the way that Rhen was written in AHSFAB seemed to assume that he was indeed the new villain in this series.

Anywho, I am still excited to read the final book. I am anxious to see where the author will lead us next. I don’t really read that much fantasy, but this series is the one of the best fantasy out there.

Special thanks to Pansing Books for sending A Heart So Fierce and Broken in exchange of an honest review.

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Sabrina

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