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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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: Wildcard (Marie Lu)

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Blurb from Goodreads:

Emika Chen barely made it out of the Warcross Championships alive. Now that she knows the truth behind Hideo’s new NeuroLink algorithm, she can no longer trust the one person she’s always looked up to, who she once thought was on her side.

Determined to put a stop to Hideo’s grim plans, Emika and the Phoenix Riders band together, only to find a new threat lurking on the neon-lit streets of Tokyo. Someone’s put a bounty on Emika’s head, and her sole chance for survival lies with Zero and the Blackcoats, his ruthless crew. But Emika soon learns that Zero isn’t all that he seems–and his protection comes at a price.

Caught in a web of betrayal, with the future of free will at risk, just how far will Emika go to take down the man she loves?


RATING

4 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

My review for Warcross.

I am happy to say that I truly enjoy reading this sequel to Warcross. Despite all of the mixed reviews on Goodreads regarding the story and characters, it does not stop me from enjoying it. It is way better than I anticipated!

After reading The Young Elites trilogy, I was kinda disappointed because there was no specialty about it whatsoever. However, this series blown me away! I have never enjoyed reading science fiction this much other than this series. Some sci-fi series are pretty much bland with no clear plot but this one is truly the best out there! I live for good sci-fi stories with elements of morality and Wildcard is one of them. It is not like other sci-fi stories that leave you completely confused with the story.

Even though I have read Warcross during January last year, I don’t have any difficulty in comprehending the story at all. The story is fantastic, honestly I don’t know what to expect from the story while reading since anything can happen to the characters. Marie Lu’s writing is always amazing and it never fails to make me captivated.

All of the explanation on artificial intelligence are very interesting to ponder and how scientists used to imagine stuffs about A.I. back then and turn them into reality is so surreal. Preserving human intelligence in A.I. is totally their goal that they want to achieve someday. However, abusing other people by implementing immoral human experimentation to achieve their goal does not abide to the Law of Nature. At the end of the day, people only care about your end result of the experiment, they don’t bother to know what is the true cost of it.

I totally recommend you guys to start reading this series because they are so well-done!

X

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!

X

Sabrina

Review: Children of Blood and Bone (Tomi Adeyemi)

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Blurb from Goodreads:

Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut Children of Blood and Bone.

They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.
Now we rise.

Zelie remembers when the soil of Orisha hummed with magic. When different clans ruled – Burners igniting flames, Tiders beckoning waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoning forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, anyone with powers was targeted and killed, leaving Zelie without a mother and her people without hope. Only a few people remain with the power to use magic, and they must remain hidden.

Zelie is one such person. Now she has a chance to bring back magic to her people and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zelie must learn to harness her powers and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orisha, where strange creatures prowl, and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zelie herself as she struggles to come to terms with the strength of her magic – and her growing feelings for an enemy.

The movie of Children of Blood and Bone is in development at Fox 2000/Temple Hill Productions with the incredible Karen Rosenfelt and Wyck Godfrey (Twilight, Maze Runner, The Fault In Our Stars) producing it.


RATING

4 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

This book is such a ride. I don’t know what to expect going through the book, so I put my expectations lower despite the great hype from the bookish community. I am not sure why, but when I read something that is totally loved and has extensive promotion by the community, somehow I would not be able to enjoy it as much as other people do. Don’t get me wrong, I love the story, but the pacing seems very slow during the first hundred pages and that makes me so unmotivated to continue. That is why I take so long to finish it.

Apart from that, all is good! Children of Blood and Bone is a West-African inspired fantasy set in Orïsha. Their life revolves around magic, and magic has to be restored to the people as it has been taken away by the King because it has been seen as a thread to the royalty.

Tomi Adeyemi’s intricate world-building needs to be praised. The world is so unique, the people and the culture in this book is so well-crafted to read as well. After the hundred pages, I am so intrigued to read it as it becomes so good that there are many revelations and plot twists revealed.

I love the character contrast between the main character, Zélie, with her determination to help her people restore magic to the land, and also Inan, the prince of Orïsha, who is also determined to finish his father’s will to destroy magic to the world. In the book, somehow their fate intertwine with each other, something happens and later it becomes complicated for both of them. I am excited to read their journey in the next book, because the ending is such a cliffhanger and many things are unresolved with the characters’ wellbeing.

I NEED THE SECOND BOOK NOW THANKS!

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

X

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