Review: Stepsister (Jennifer Donnelly)

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Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher:
Hot Key Books
Publication Date:
May 14th 2019
Format:
Paperback
Source:
Pansing Books
Page Count:
469

Blurb from Goodreads:

‘In an ancient city by the sea, three sisters – a maiden, a mother, and a crone – are drawing maps by candlelight. Sombre, with piercing grey eyes, they are the three Fates, and every map is a human life . . .’

Stepsister takes up where Cinderella’s tale ends. We meet Isabelle, the younger of Cinderella’s two stepsisters. Ella is considered beautiful; stepsister Isabelle is not. Isabelle is fearless, brave, and strong-willed. She fences better than any boy, and takes her stallion over jumps that grown men fear to attempt. It doesn’t matter, though; these qualities are not valued in a girl. Others have determined what is beautiful, and Isabelle does not fit their definition. Isabelle must face down the demons that drove her cruel treatment of Ella, challenge her own fate and maybe even redefine the very notion of beauty . . .

Cinderella is about a girl who was bullied; Stepsister is about the bully. We all root for the victims, we want to see them triumph. But what about the bullies? Is there hope for them? Can a mean girl change? Can she find her own happily ever after?


RATING

3.5 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

I have been looking forward to read this book since first time hearing about it. Especially stories with antagonists or villains as the main character since we don’t always get to read from their point of view.

However, I didn’t enjoy this book as much. Maybe because I wasn’t in the great mood to read, because I was totally into watching movies and TV shows that my reading progress was totally disturbed. The story was so long that at times I had to put it down as I was losing my interest to read about the characters. The pacing was slow and there were many filler chapters. Fortunately, after 200 pages in I started to like story because I had a better grasp of what the story wanted to tell.

I love Isabelle’s depiction in the book. She is firstly portrayed as an evil and grim character, who does all sorts of bad things just to impressed others. At some point I can relate to Isabelle, whenever she feels undervalued by people around her, just because she doesn’t have the standard looks. When things become hard, she takes the responsibility in becoming the breadwinner of the family, and she realizes that in order to be treated well by the society, she must treat others nicely. Great things will come to those who wait.

I also love the portrayal of Tavi, Isabelle’s sister in the book. She is such a nerd and a questioner. She loves learning and knowledge. She experiments about cheese just to try new things. Women during the old days didn’t get the chance to learn and go to college like men do, so it is refreshing to see the scenario in this book.

All in all, Stepsister is a unique story that is the complete opposite of pretty. “Ugly” and “Girls who don’t fit into the social norm” are the main theme of the story that compels me the most.

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

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Sabrina

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ARC Review: All The Things We Never Said (Yasmin Rahman)

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Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publisher:
Hot Key Books
Publication Date: 
July 11th 2019
Format:
ARC Paperback
Source:
Pansing Books
Page Count:
448

Blurb from Goodreads:

16-year-old Mehreen Miah’s anxiety and depression, or ‘Chaos’, as she calls it, has taken over her life, to the point where she can’t bear it any more. So she joins MementoMori, a website that matches people with partners and allocates them a date and method of death, ‘the pact’. Mehreen is paired with Cara Saunders and Olivia Castleton, two strangers dealing with their own serious issues.

As they secretly meet over the coming days, Mehreen develops a strong bond with Cara and Olivia, the only people who seem to understand what she’s going through. But ironically, the thing that brought them together to commit suicide has also created a mutually supportive friendship that makes them realise that, with the right help, life is worth living. It’s not long before all three want out of the pact. But in a terrifying twist of fate, the website won’t let them stop, and an increasingly sinister game begins, with MementoMori playing the girls off against each other.

A pact is a pact, after all.

In this powerful debut written in three points of view, Yasmin Rahman has created a moving, poignant novel celebrating life. ALL THE THINGS WE NEVER SAID is about friendship, strength and survival.


RATING

5 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

Wow, this year is truly a good year for diverse and mental health young adult books! First, The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf is truly a masterpiece, and then comes All The Things We Never Said, this indeed blows my mind!

Why am I saying that this book is a masterpiece? This book revolves around three awesome and relatable characters who share their own journey on fighting their mental health issues until their destiny intertwines by a website, they finally meet with each other. We don’t always get to see mental health books with multiple POVs, and that makes the story even reachable and profound at the same time. This book is a page-turner, once I start, I cannot stop reading it. Their lives are so interesting, I love reading about how they interpret and discover their own self while facing their mental illnesses.

They have their own struggles that they face and when they become friends, they share their feelings and problems with people who are in their shoes, the ones who can truly understand themselves. Even though they come from various races, religion and sexual orientation, they are able to support each other very well.

This stunning UKYA debut is totally a book you don’t want to miss reading this year!

Special thanks to Pansing Books for providing me this awesome ARC!

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Sabrina

ARC Review: The Words That Fly Between Us (Sarah Carroll)

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Genre: Middle Grade
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster Children’s UK

Publication Date: 
May 2nd 2019
Format:
ARC 
Paperback
Source: 
Pansing Books
Page Count:
256

Blurb from Goodreads:

Lucy’s father is a successful lawyer making a killing on the property market. She and her mother want for nothing. Nothing, that is, that can be bought.
But money cannot buy Lucy the words she needs. The words to stand up to her bully of a father. The words to inspire her mother to do something about the family life that is suffocating them both. The words to become the person she wants to be.

Then Lucy finds something else: An escape route…
Soon she discovers that every building on her row is connected, through the attic, to the next. As she explores the inner lives of those who live on her street, Lucy realises that she is not the only one to suffer in silence. She also sees ways she can help some, and ways to punish those that deserve it.

But as the mighty fall, Lucy is forced to realise that while she can affect the lives of others from the safety of the attic, she will need to climb down to face her own fears.


RATING

4 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

I think this is the most heavy middle grade book that I have ever read. The reason I say this book is particularly heavy is because the main character has gone through such an ordeal, that she has done something that truly changes her life as a whole. Her realisation towards on what is right and what is wrong in investment is truly daunting to me that she believes that whoever who is guilty in money laundering must be punished.

Lucy is such a brave and mature main character and I am truly impressed on her mental growth and development throughout the book. She has observed such abusive relationship between her parents and she has learned that it is truly despicable to wrongly treat someone like that. I feel for her, when she feels so unhelpful and scared of her abusive parental figure. This emotional pain has made her to become someone who can stand up for her mother and doing the right thing to correct them.

I can see through the perspective of Lucy on how stressful it is to be involved in the property investment because there are many ups and downs that you have to face and not everyone can be trusted when it comes to money. Lucy is also an artist, she loves to draw and I love it when she follows her heart to do something that she dears the most.

Many thanks to Pansing Books for allowing me to review this book for them!

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Sabrina

ARC Review: Check Mates (Stewart Foster)

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Genre: Middle Grade
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster Children’s UK

Publication Date: 
June 27th 2019
Format:
ARC 
Paperback
Source: 
Pansing Books
Page Count:
345

Blurb from Goodreads:

A funny, moving and utterly original story about one boy’s struggle with dyslexia from Stewart Foster, award-winning author of THE BUBBLE BOY

My name is Felix Schopp and I am 11 years old. Some people think that I’m a problem child, that I’m lazy and never pay attention in lessons and will do anything to get out of them. And it’s true. I will. I’d rather climb a tree than do English, do the washing up instead of homework and I’ll walk anywhere than have to study a map or the bus timetable. But that’s not so bad is it? You see the thing is, I’m not a problem child at all. I’m just a child with a problem.


RATING

4 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

It has been a while since I read Middle Grade books. One of my little joys is reading them because I truly love reading about children and exploring their thinking process.

Felix, an 11-year-old boy, is an ADHD sufferer. He finds it very hard to focus in class and doing his school work. His granddad comes out with a very good plan on how to keep Felix out of trouble, and the plan is to teach him play chess. As someone who is not able to concentrate well, he hates playing it. Until one moment when he truly sits down in front of his granddad to play chess, he realises that there are many things that can be learned from chess.

I am not an avid fan or player of chess, but I do play chess with my little brother to kill some time. It is so interesting and impressive to read about the history behind chess and the strategies that we can learn to beat our opponent.

Throughout the book, I truly love the connection between Felix and his granddad that they have developed. I love how his granddad is persistent to help Felix to change. I am also impressed by Granddad’s backstory, how Cold War happened and the division of East and West Germany with the Berlin Wall.

Thank you Pansing Books for providing me this ARC!

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Sabrina

Review: City of Ghosts (Victoria Schwab)

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Blurb from Goodreads:

Cassidy Blake’s parents are The Inspecters, a (somewhat inept) ghost-hunting team. But Cass herself can REALLY see ghosts. In fact, her best friend, Jacob, just happens to be one.

When The Inspecters head to ultra-haunted Edinburgh, Scotland, for their new TV show, Cass—and Jacob—come along. In Scotland, Cass is surrounded by ghosts, not all of them friendly. Then she meets Lara, a girl who can also see the dead. But Lara tells Cassidy that as an In-betweener, their job is to send ghosts permanently beyond the Veil. Cass isn’t sure about her new mission, but she does know the sinister Red Raven haunting the city doesn’t belong in her world. Cassidy’s powers will draw her into an epic fight that stretches through the worlds of the living and the dead, in order to save herself.


RATING

4 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

I love reading Middle Grade books. Middle Grade books bring joy to me, even though they are mainly focused on children. Their perspective to the world and towards their own lives as a whole mesmerize me the most. Their capacity to enjoy and explore the world with their own developed minds makes me feel like a kid again.

I have only read Victoria Schwab’s The Savage Song, unfortunately I wasn’t a fan of it. I could not understand the story at all, the characters were so one-dimensional and uninteresting. So, when City of Ghosts comes out and I find out that it is indeed a middle grade book, I have a feeling that I must try to at least read this masterpiece.

City of Ghosts is whimsical and quirky adventure of Cass and Jacob, following their journey to Edinburgh, Scotland to hunt for ghosts. I truly love reading about how passionate Cass’ parents are in documenting their findings on their new show on paranormal matters. I also love the dynamics between Cass and Jacob, even though they are different. they are still there for one another.

To be honest, the story is kind of easy and simple to read, since it is targeted to young audiences. However, I don’t have any problems reading it and it does not stop from enjoying it. I appreciate the fact that the author puts many Harry Potter references in the book, like Hogwarts house names and the origin of Harry Potter, which is Edinburgh itself.

I am interested to read the next book!

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Sabrina

Review: Flame in the Mist (Renée Ahdieh)

 

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Blurb from Goodreads:

The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place—she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor’s favorite consort—a political marriage that will elevate her family’s standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace.

Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the ranks of the Black Clan, determined to track down the person responsible for the target on her back. But she’s quickly captured and taken to the Black Clan’s secret hideout, where she meets their leader, the rebel ronin Takeda Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, his best friend Okami. Still believing her to be a boy, Ranmaru and Okami eventually warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity. As Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets, of betrayal and murder, which will force her to question everything she’s ever known.


RATING

3.5 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

I’ve read The Wrath and The Dawn series last two years and I totally love it. We all know that Renée Ahdieh’s writing is always flowery and magical, with her intricate and fascinating world that she introduces to the readers. It’s very easy to get lost in her world, not realising how many pages and chapters that you have gone through.

I start this not knowing anything, but I do know for a fact that this is a Mulan retelling, so I am intrigued. I love Mariko as a character, with her wit and courage to fight her inner self, to prove to her family that she is more than just a women. I find the main character to be similar in personality, like Shahrzad from The Wrath and The Dawn. They are both so good with words and have great courage.

The main theme about Flame in The Mist is the worth of women. During Feudal Japan, women were not respected and often undermined by the society. By the time they reach seventeen years old, they would be married off to their parents’ choice. What I love about Mariko is she wants to prove to everyone that she has something better to offer to the world. She can be a warrior and a protector, just like anybody else. Reading about Mariko’s story about her journey in finding her strengths truly inspires me.

However, while reading, I somehow come to a point where I don’t really retain any important information whilst reading the story, I am not sure it is because I read it too fast, maybe it is because of the foreign world that I have yet to accustom that makes me confused with the storyline.

I would totally recommend you guys to check out this book, since the writing is so fantastically done.

Looking forward to read Book 2 soon!

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Sabrina

Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (J.K. Rowling)

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Blurb from Goodreads:

Harry has been burdened with a dark, dangerous and seemingly impossible task: that of locating and destroying Voldemort’s remaining Horcruxes. Never has Harry felt so alone, or faced a future so full of shadows. But Harry must somehow find within himself the strength to complete the task he has been given. He must leave the warmth, safety and companionship of The Burrow and follow without fear or hesitation the inexorable path laid out for him.


RATING

5 SPARKLING STARS!

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

Most seventeen-year olds do not even have a clue on what to do in their lives after school, but Harry Potter has got his life predicted by a prophecy, and there is no way of turning back.

In this book, J.K. Rowling has given us answers upon answers about the mysteries and problems since the first book of the series. I love how complex and complicated the series are, with more characters who are introduced in the book and more emotional and action-packed stories. This is truly not a story that you can create in a span of a night, this requires major plotting and crafting within years to complete! J.K. Rowling is such a genius.

Every time I want to reread this, I feel a surge of trauma inside of my mind because I totally sense how Harry is facing in this book. It truly shows how affected I am with the main character of the book, it tells that I am deeply attached to Harry. However this time, I want to overcome that fear and after all, I just want to finish my whole Harry Potter reread for the year.

It is crazy that I have spent so much time reading the books, watching the movies and listening to the audiobooks by Stephen Fry for me to immerse in the Wizarding World again. No other series in the world will make me feel good and better than what Harry Potter does to me. I am happy that this series is dearly loved by all and it makes it more wonderful to share the experience with others.

The Prince’s Tale and King’s Cross chapters are my favourite chapters in the book. I love how all their detailed plans come to a conclusion and make sense at the end.

There are many references on Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them series, one of it is about Ariana’s condition which is said that she is indeed an obscurus – a manifestation of the repressed energy of a magical child. In light of the recent events in Crimes of Grindlewald, I am excited to see how things will reveal in the next movie, since it is stated that Credence Barebone, who is also an obscurus, is Albus Dumbledore’s long-lost brother, Aurelius Dumbledore, which in my opinion doesn’t make sense at all.

There are many profound quotes that I am attracted to, most of them are from my favourite character, Albus Dumbledore. 

“Where your treasure is, there will be your heart also.”

“Perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it” – Albus Dumbledore

“Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and, above all, those who live without love.” – Albus Dumbledore

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” – Albus Dumbledore

What I truly love about this series is between the thousands of pages and millions of words in the series, many topics and discussions on life are covered in the book such as race and racism, hate, ignorance, arrogance, power and influence of the media, slavery, dictatorship, revolution, feminism, depression, death, loss, equality, love, and lastly, the value of friendship. It is no question that this series can impact the world so deeply. It changes the perspective on how we view life. It is fulfilling that we have seen these topics in our real life situations happen to the world now. Reading can change the world!

This is not an in-depth review of the technicalities of the book, this is my view of the book and the series as a whole. No words can really describe how thankful I am to have the chance to read Harry Potter for the past years.

J.K. Rowling writes a gripping ending to Harry Potter’s farewell that leaves the fans pleased yet craved for more!

But it is not really a farewell isn’t it?

My review for:

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

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Sabrina