ARC Review: Keeper (Jessica Moor)

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Genre: Adult Thriller
Publisher: Viking
Publication Date: March 19th 2020
Format: Paperback
Source: Times Reads
Page Count: 322

Blurb from Goodreads:

He’s been looking in the windows again. Messing with cameras. Leaving notes.
Supposed to be a refuge. But death got inside.

When Katie Straw’s body is pulled from the waters of the local suicide spot, the police decide it’s an open-and-shut case. A standard-issue female suicide.

But the residents of Widringham women’s refuge where Katie worked don’t agree. They say it’s murder.

Will you listen to them?

An addictive literary page-turner about a crime as shocking as it is commonplace, Keeper will leave you reeling long after the final page is turned.


RATING

3 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

I started this book with such high expectations but at the end I felt underwhelmed with the story. The story was well paced but it was filled with many side characters that didn’t contribute that much to the plot.

To be honest I only cared for the main character, Katie and her life before her passing. Reading her story was essential in determining the perpetrator but I was hoping that there were more background stories about her life and crucial moments with her boyfriend. I certainly didn’t expect the plot twist at the last page of the book and I was kinda disappointed that the story left us hanging just like that. Open ended endings are not always my cup of tea.

Even though the story did not satisfy me, the whole message that the book wanted to convey was really critical. Domestic abuse and violence is not foreign topic, we often here about it through the news or it happens within our society. Women and children are the common victims of the abuse so they are many centers that provide shelter and care to them to start a new life away from their negative space.

One of the message that Jessica Moor wanted to tell to us is how control can be confused with protectiveness. The victims wouldn’t have expected the behavior in the first place, but after a few scenarios they would be totally suspicious with the abuser’s unusual actions.

Keeper is not entirely a bad book, but it’s definitely not for me.

Thank you Times Reads for sending Keeper for 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: 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

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!

X

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

Review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (J.K. Rowling)

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Blurb from Goodreads:

“You are sharing the Dark Lord’s thoughts and emotions. The Headmaster thinks it inadvisable for this to continue. He wishes me to teach you how to close your mind to the Dark Lord.”

Dark times have come to Hogwarts. After the Dementors’ attack on his cousin Dudley, Harry Potter knows that Voldemort will stop at nothing to find him. There are many who deny the Dark Lord’s return, but Harry is not alone: a secret order gathers at Grimmauld Place to fight against the Dark forces. Harry must allow Professor Snape to teach him how to protect himself from Voldemort’s savage assaults on his mind. But they are growing stronger by the day and Harry is running out of time…


RATING

5 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

This is a my second reread, the last time I read the Order of the Phoenix was in 2016, it was a long time ago and I could not remember much about the book.

Honestly this book was the hardest for me to read. It’s not about the length, it’s about the content of the book. It is very dark and gloomy, different from the other books in the series. I personally think that even Half-Blood Prince is not so dark and heavy like this book, as it is known that this book shows that true state of Harry throughout the series, as he struggles to find his identity as a person, yet he feels so alone despite having many friends beside him.

I take many breaks from reading the book, because some parts are unbearable to even read and let alone imagine the things that Harry and friends face in Hogwarts. I contemplate to ditch the book for a while because I cannot stand the heat but I manage to finish it nonetheless.

It is emotionally uplifting to read that the Order of the Phoenix members work their way to defeat Voldemort and the Death Eaters. They risk their lives to save their loved ones and to bring justice for the vanquished. I love the scenes in the Grimmauld Place because I feel complete reading about them gathering together at one place. Even though it is not the wonderful and whimsical “The Burrow”, the people are the heart and soul, not the house.

The most outstanding part of the book is the theme. It is no longer the lovey dovey endings and stories like the previous books. There are many difficult lessons to be learned that even a child could not comprehend the meaning behind it. This book introduces us to the grey shade of life, where there is no white or black, true or false in life, as what Sirius Black had said,

“Besides, the world isn’t split into good people and Death Eaters. We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.”

God I love that quote.

This story also taught that adults are not always the perfect protectors for the younger ones. They think by not sharing any information to them will spare and protect their lives. At the end of the day, they just want the best for them.

I also would like to highlight Harry’s wellbeing in this story. He suffers from PTSD, as we can confer from his angst behaviour after his confrontation with Voldemort and Cedric’ death. It is never explicitly stated in the book about him having PTSD, but he definitely suffers from the trauma. I find the angst to be relatable with me being a growing teenager before.

Harry also shown to have imposter syndrome in the book when he doubts his accomplishments when retrieving the Philosopher’s stone, saving Ginny in the Chamber of Secrets, performing the Patronus Charm to the Dementors and his capability in doing the tasks in Triwizard Tournament. He thinks that he gets through all of that by sheer luck.

One of my most hated scenes is the Ministy’s reaction towards Voldemort’s return at the introduction of the book. They are totally in denial of that situation and they are against people who agree that Voldemort is back. The Ministry is definitely the one that is truly responsible  for Voldemort to return as they are being complacent for ONE YEAR and that is enough time for them to rise up again! I could never forgive Fudge and Umbridge for doing such, they have done so much damage that is unacceptable.

The book has so much meaning to the series as a whole, as the content of the prophecy is told by Dumbledore and yet it pains me to say that this is my least favourite of the series. I enjoy reading it thoroughly but I feel tremendously sad for Harry for what had happened in the book.

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 Half-Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

I look forward to re-read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows after this!

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Sabrina