ARC Review: Dear Edward (Ann Napolitano)

45294613Genre: Fiction
Publisher:
The Dial Press
Publication Date: January 6th 2020
Format: ARC Paperback
Source: Times Reads
Page Count: 336

Blurb from Goodreads:

Inspired by a true story of one child’s incredible survival–riveting, uplifting, unforgettable.

After losing everything, a young boy discovers there are still reasons for hope in this luminous, life-affirming novel, perfect for fans of Celeste Ng and Ann Patchett.

In the face of tragedy, what does it take to find joy?

One summer morning, twelve-year-old Edward Adler, his beloved older brother, his parents, and 183 other passengers board a flight in Newark headed for Los Angeles. Among them is a Wall Street wunderkind, a young woman coming to terms with an unexpected pregnancy, an injured vet returning from Afghanistan, a septuagenarian business tycoon, and a free-spirited woman running away from her controlling husband. And then, tragically, the plane crashes. Edward is the sole survivor.

Edward’s story captures the attention of the nation, but he struggles to find a place for himself in a world without his family. He continues to feel that a piece of him has been left in the sky, forever tied to the plane and all of his fellow passengers. But then he makes an unexpected discovery–one that will lead him to the answers of some of life’s most profound questions: When you’ve lost everything, how do find yourself? How do you discover your purpose? What does it mean not just to survive, but to truly live?

Dear Edward is at once a transcendent coming-of-age story, a multidimensional portrait of an unforgettable cast of characters, and a breathtaking illustration of all the ways a broken heart learns to love again.


RATING

4 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

I am definitely drawn into this novel’s “sole survivor of a plane crash” plot line and I am even more interested to read it when it says the book is for fans of Celeste Ng.

Dear Edward starts with Edward and his family board a flight in Newark headed to Los Angeles. After that, the book continues with alternate chapters in the present and past during the duration of the flight. In the present chapters, we see how Edward and his close relatives handle the grief and situation while in the past chapters, stories are told from the perspective of the other 183 passengers in the flight.

It is somehow tough to both read and review this book, mainly because it’s a story where so much and so little happens at the same time. The book has a slow pace but the story is enough to make me interested to turn the pages.

What I love about the book is that Dear Edward is a realistically character-driven and emotion-led story. I truly appreciate the time that the author has taken to invest in Edward’s coming-of-age story from someone who has lost everything to a person who can let go of the past and move on. It’s not a walk in the park story as the book truly delves into the vastness of sadness and grief of losing your loved ones and how to continue living. Grief can hit the core of not only to the person who is deeply affected, but to the families as well. We see how it is not easy for Edward’s aunt and uncle to accept the fact that he is an orphan and won’t be able to see his parents again. However, they still put a brave face and try to be the best person that they could be for Edward.

As rare as Edward’s situation is, we can always find something to relate here. At some point of our lives, we all face grief and loss that changes on how we view life. When we face those issues, we always want to find answers that can solve the problems. However in reality, there are no easy answers on how we can decode them. That’s what Dear Edward tells. Edward also undergoes the journey of growth and recovery, something that is not easy as it sounds. He finds comfort in being with people who truly care for him like Shay and Principal Arundhi. It shows that people around him are also responsible for his recovery.

Overall, a wonderful story on the exploration and journey of grief and recovery.

When there’s life, there’s hope.

Special thanks to Times Reads for sending me an ARC of Dear Edward.

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Sabrina

Review: The Ruinous Sweep (Tim Wynne-Jones)

43679845.jpgGenre: Adult Mystery
Publisher:
Candlewick Press
Publication Date: September 10th 2019
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 400

Blurb from Goodreads:

A rainy night. An empty highway. And no memory. From award-winning author Tim Wynne-Jones comes a riveting murder mystery that will keep readers enthralled until the last page.

On the night Donovan Turner is thrown out of a car on a highway in the middle of nowhere, he can barely remember his own name, let alone the past twenty-four hours. Where is he? Where is his girlfriend, Bee? In an attempt to flag down the next passing car, he startles the driver, causing a fatal accident. With sirens in the distance and the lingering feeling that he’s running from something — or someone — Donovan grabs the dead driver’s briefcase and flees. Meanwhile, Bee is fighting for Dono’s life every bit as much as he is. But when the police show up and hint that he is the prime suspect in a murder, Bee is determined to put together the pieces of what happened and clear his name. With echoes of Dante’s Divine Comedy, this harrowing journey through hell and back is a page-turning tale of guilt, retribution, love, and redemption.


RATING

2 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

To be honest, I went through this book with such low expectations and sadly, this book didn’t even exceed the threshold of my expectation level.

Everything in this book was confusing. I really wanted to like it. I gave so many chances because I didn’t want to miss the chance to read a book written by Tim Wynne-Jones. I was near to ditching this book because I didn’t to make myself suffer. The first few pages were enough to make me hooked with the story but after reading 100 pages, I felt like the plot and writing to be so complex and messy that I failed to even get a grasp of what this book was all about. If you were to ask me to explain the general plot of this story, I surely wouldn’t be able to. There were so many characters mentioned that I lost interest to care for them.

The only part that I enjoyed reading was Bee’s adventure in identifying the mystery behind her boyfriend’s death. However, I found the ending to be very perplexing. To make myself clear with the ending, I read reviews on the internet. It turned out that this book contained supernatural elements which was not surprising since the ending was rather peculiar. This was something that I would not have expected before picking up the book.

Based on people’s review, this book seemed like a hit or miss story. Some will love this but some will hate this. Sadly, it wasn’t a story for me.

Thank you Pansing Books for sending me a copy of The Ruinous Sweep.

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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: 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: Into The Crooked Place (Alexandra Christo)

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Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Publication Date: October 8th 2019
Format: ARC Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 471

Blurb from Goodreads:

Magic rules the city of Creije Capital and Tavia Syn knows just how many tricks she needs up her sleeve to survive. Selling dark magic on the streets for her kingpin, she keeps clear of other crooks, counting the days until her debt is paid and she can flee her criminal life.

But then, one day, with her freedom in sight, Tavia uncovers a sinister plot that threatens to destroy the realm she calls home. Desperate to put an end to her kingpin’s plan, Tavia forms an unlikely alliance with three crooks even more deadly than her:

Wesley, the kingpin’s prodigy and most renewed criminal in the realm.

Karam, an underground fighter with a penchant for killing first and forgetting to ask questions.

And Saxony, a Crafter in hiding who will stop at nothing to avenge her family.

With the reluctant saviours assembled, they embark on a quest to put an end to the dark magic before it’s too late. But even if they can take down the kingpin and save the realm, the one thing they can’t do is trust each other.


RATING

3 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

It took me nearly four weeks to complete this book. It’s not that I don’t enjoy reading Fantasy books, particularly stories that involves ‘gangster heist fantasy’ like Six of Crows. I truly enjoyed reading Six of Crows and I rated the book a solid five stars for its amazing cast and story line. However, I didn’t feel the same way towards Into the Crooked Places.

I tried reading this book until 100 pages and I still didn’t connect to any of the characters at all. I felt like the characters were just written to be plot devices to carry out the story, while the characters could just be written properly to be human beings with feelings and instincts. I was even more disappointed because the story was written to have various point of views (POV) from the casts and it’s definitely a plus point to ensure that the readers have ample information on what to know and expect from each character. For me, characterization is very important no matter how bombastic the story is. If the characters are dull, it is enough to make the reader feel bored.

This book has so much potential because the story line is kinda interesting to follow. I like reading about broken people with their own dark past and how they form their group to defeat others. I just wanted a more face-paced storytelling and interesting characterization from Into the Crooked Places. 

I am intrigued to know what the second book can offer us next and I really hope that it won’t disappoint us!

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

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Sabrina

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

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