ARC Review: Clap When You Land (Elizabeth Acevedo)

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

Blurb from Goodreads:

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

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

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

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

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


RATING

4 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sabrina

ARC Review: The Last Paper Crane (Kerry Drewery)

Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction
Publisher:
 Hot Key Books
Publication Date: April 2nd 2020
Format: ARC Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 287

Blurb from Goodreads:

1945, Hiroshima: Ichiro is a teenage boy relaxing at home with his friend Hiro. Moments later there is a blinding flash as the horrific nuclear bomb is dropped. With great bravery the two boys find Hiro’s five year-old sister Keiko in the devastated and blasted landscape. With Hiro succumbing to his wounds, Ichiro is now the only one who can take care of Keiko. But in the chaos Ichiro loses her when he sets off to find help.

Seventy years later, the loss of Keiko and his broken promise to his dying friend are haunting the old man’s fading years. Mizuki, his grandaughter, is determined to help him. As the Japanese legend goes, if you have the patience to fold 1,000 paper cranes, you will find your heart’s desire; and it turns out her grandfather has only one more origami crane to fold…

Narrated in a compelling mix of straight narrative, free verse and haiku poems, this is a haunting and powerful novel of courage and survival, with full-page illustrations by Natsko Seki.


RATING

4 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

I am excited to receive this from Pansing as I am very much intrigued to read on historical events that happen especially in Asia. I want to not only understand about the history behind the incident, but to read about human stories, the people who have suffered most, the futures miss and the guilt that the survivors felt.

I read this just in one sitting due to its straight narrative mixed with free verses and haiku poems that are easy to understand. The language used is also simple to comprehend as I don’t have any difficulty in reading it. The story is told by the perspective of a teenage boy called Ichiro, a seventeen year old when the atomic bombings of Hiroshima happened.

Delving into the story, we see how big the destruction were after the incident. Hiroshima felt like the end of the world because everything was dark, dusty and destroyed. People were all scattered around and buildings were demolished to ashes. I cannot imagine living in the time of war when people were scared all the time because anything could happen to them in a heartbeat. There are illustrations made by Natsko Seki to further describe the aftermath of the bombings.

We can see that even after seventy years, Ichiro still remembers the incident and bears the guilt. It shows how the memories still stay with the victims till the very end of their lives. The message that we receive from The Last Paper Crane is we must continue to survive even though we have lost our loved ones.

I also search about the meaning of crane in Japan. Based on my research, crane is a mystical creature and it represents good fortune and longevity. It was believed that if one folded 1000 origami crane, one’s wish would come true. It’s heartwarming because Ichiro owned a book called The Tale of Genji and it was 1000 pages long. Upon searching her friend’s sister, he folded many origami cranes using the pages inside of the book for good luck. It is so wonderful how the story starts to unfold in the end with the last origami crane that Ichiro folded.

After finishing The Last Paper Crane, I would definitely pick up more reads on Hiroshima bombings.

Thank you Pansing Books for sending me The Last Paper Crane 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: Robin Hood (Robert Muchamore)

Genre: Young Adult 
Publisher:
 Hot Key Books
Publication Date: April 2nd 2020
Format: ARC Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 244

Synopsis

When his dad is framed for a robbery, Robin and his brother Little John are hounded out of Locksley and must learn to survive in the Sherwood forest, stretching three hundred kilometres and sheltering the free spirits and outlaws. But Robin is determined to do more than survive. Small, fast and deadly with a bow, he hatches a plan to join forces with Marion Maid, harness his inimitable tech skills and strike a blow against Gisborne and Sheriff Marjorie. 


RATING

4 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

After reading Arctic Zoo, I feel very much intrigued to read any other books written by Robert Muchamore. There’s something different about his stories that fascinates me. I have a soft spot for reading about rebellious teenagers fighting corruption and nefarious adults. It shows that anyone is able to put corruption to an end, regardless of what age and status.

Robin Hood is a modern age story of Robin Hood, a 12 year old kid who has a knack for archery and computers. He lives with his older brother, Little John and father, Ardagh. However, when his father is framed for a robbery that he has not done, both of them are forced to survive away from town. That’s where all adventure starts.

I truly love reading about Robin and his adventure in dealing with his father being thrown into jail. His bravery and loyalty to his father is something that must be praised for. I respect Robin because even though he is only 12, he has formed a solid stand for what is right. Stand up for what you believe is right, even if you stand alone. 

This is actually the first book to a four book series called Robin Hood, and the first book is called Hacking, Heists and Flaming Arrows. I genuinely thought that it is stand alone but after finishing Robin Hood, there are major plot points that are unsolved and for sure there will be a second book to explain it all. I surely didn’t expect a major plot twist to happen in the book and after that the direction of the story totally changes.

I look forward to more adventure and I cannot wait to see what Robin surprises us in the next book.

Thank you Pansing Books for sending me an ARC of Robin Hood!

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Sabrina

ARC Review: Fight Like A Girl (Sheena Kamal)

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Genre: Young Adult 
Publisher:
 Hot Key Books
Publication Date: March 10th 2020
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 224

Blurb from Goodreads:

The Beauty of the Moment meets Exit, Pursued by a Bear. Award-winning thriller writer Sheena Kamal delivers a kick-ass debut YA novel that will have fans crying out for more.

Love and violence. In some families they’re bound up together, dysfunctional and poisonous, passed from generation to generation like eye color or a quirk of smile. Trisha’s trying to break the chain, channeling her violent impulses into Muay Thai kickboxing, an unlikely sport for a slightly built girl of Trinidadian descent. Her father comes and goes as he pleases, his presence adding a layer of tension to Toronto’s east-end townhouse Trisha and her mom call home, every punch he lands on her mother carving itself indelibly into Trisha’s mind. Until the night he wanders out drunk in front of the car Trisha is driving, practicing on her learner’s permit, her mother in the passenger seat. Her father is killed, and her mother seems strangely at peace. Lighter, somehow. Trisha doesn’t know exactly what happened that night, but she’s afraid it’s going to happen again. Her mom has a new man in her life and the patterns, they are repeating.


RATING

3 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

I have to say that I am pretty much intrigued to read this book. The theme revolves around love and violence, something that is different and taboo in young adult fiction.

Unfortunately, I don’t enjoy this as much as I hope to. For the first 50 pages, I am engrossed to Trisha’s life especially with her Muay Thai journey and her father’s death. After that, the plot of the story declines and that makes me unable to understand this story as a whole and what the author is trying to convey. For the most part of my reading process, I am confused with plot line and there are also subplots to the story that makes it harder to follow as well. I have to say the aftermath of her father’s death is the complex subject in this book.

I really want to enjoy this book, however maybe it is not a good time for me to read this.

I would love to try and read other books from Sheena Kamal in the future.

Thank you Pansing Books for sending me an ARC of Fight Like A Girl!

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Sabrina

Review: Arctic Zoo (Robert Muchamore)

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Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Publication Date: July 11th 2019
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 456

Blurb from Goodreads:

From London . . .
Georgia gets straight As at school, writes essays for fun, has been placed first in twenty-six drone races and has a serious addiction to buying Japanese stationery. She plans to follow her older sister Sophie and become a doctor, but her worldview is shattered when Sophie commits suicide.

To Lagos . . .
Julius lives in Ondo, a Nigerian state where half the population lives on less than a dollar a day. But he isn’t one of them. His uncle has been governor of Ondo for more than a decade and his mother is the power behind that throne. He finds refuge in a derelict zoo with best friend Duke, but as the two of them grow close, the world outside becomes more and more hostile.

Following two teenagers living very different lives, ARCTIC ZOO is a startling contemporary novel about protest, sexuality, mental heath and flawed leadership, from the bestselling author of CHERUB.


RATING

4 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

This story follows two teenagers leading very different lives named Julius and Georgia. Julius is the rich kid living in Nigeria, with his family’s huge wealth while Georgia is a drone pilot, having entered many drone racing championships and scored flying colors in exams.

The moment I laid my eyes on the synopsis of Arctic Zoo, I know this book is going to be different from previous YA books that I’ve read before. Arctic Zoo is about teenagers protesting against a corrupt leadership and finding themselves as a whole. There is not a lot of YA books which tells more adult and mature stories like this one, and that attracts me the most.

I am very intrigued with Julius and Georgia’s backstory as they both have diverse stories and family background and it is interesting how their fate crosses path in a mental health unit.

Julius struggles with his sexuality and tries to live boldly but his mother disapproves his choice. Besides, having a boyfriend who comes from a middle class community motivates him to fight his own family, to right the corruption and money laundering that poisons the political system in his country.

Georgia on the other hand, feels depressed by her sister’s death, as her death is resulted by overworking. The system forces workers to do overtime and night shifts for long hours until workers lost their work and life balance. Night shifts can totally disrupt the circadian rhythm or the biological clock that may perturb body function. Georgia feels responsible to make a change and starts a revolution as a sign of protest towards the government’s negligence.

What draw me into reading Arctic Zoo is these two young teenagers are able to start a revolution, to change the world that they are living in for the greater good. The fact that they are braver that some functioning adults in the government is astonishing. They are both selfless and brave, willing to sacrifice themselves for a great cause.

The problem is in the real world, teenagers under 17 don’t get a chance to have a say in the political system. When they protest against ridiculous rules made by the higher management, they are often taken lightly because they think teenagers are not matured enough to understand the whole picture. My answer is teenagers nowadays are brilliant than before. They have the sources from the net to read and they have the mind to make their own decisions already. By reading, we can change the ruling government. Protest is healthy, not to the extent of extremism such as rioting until damaging properties and hurting people.

“It isn’t easy to change the world, but you’ve got to keep trying.

Overall, I enjoy reading this book as the story opens my perspective to the harsh world. Anyone can make a change in the world, you just have to keep trying.

Special thanks to Pansing Books for providing me this awesome copy.

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Sabrina

Review: You Only Live Once (Jess Vallance)

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Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Publication date: August 23rd 2018
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 400

Blurb from Goodreads:

The start of a hilarious new teen series for fans of Geek Girl.

Gracie Dart has always worked hard and she’s got a wall covered with revision timetables and French verbs to prove it. But now GCSEs are behind her and she suddenly starts to think: what was the POINT of it all?

When Gracie thinks she’s dying of a disgusting tropical illness, she starts to worry she’s been wasting her best years being sensible. It’s like people say: you only live once – so isn’t it about time she started LIVING?
(OK, so the tropical illness turned out to be a fake-tan miscalculation. Anyone could make the same mistake.)

When Gracie decides to do something, she does it properly. Gracie Dart is about to live out her dreams. However embarrassing.


RATING

3 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

This book is totally aimed to students who have just finished school and trying to figure out what are the things that they want to do in life. By reading the synopsis, I can guarantee that the main character is going to have one helluva journey.

I truly enjoyed the concept of the book — trying to make the most out of life and being spontaneous. Gracie Dart is truly an excellent student, she scores well in her exams and turns down school trips just to be able to study at home. After finishing GCSE, she lives by the motto of “You Only Live Once”. We can see her doing spontaneous activities such as going for a horse-turned-to-a-donkey ride at beach, bungee jumping, trip to Paris with her sick grandmother and many challenging things that she has never done before. I imagine myself doing all of the things that Gracie has done while reading and wishing that I have guts to do that. I love it how this book discusses on the importance of relationship with friends and family as well as sexuality. Gracie is a lesbian and she has a great support system who truly supports her sexuality.

Gracie is the living reflection of a young adult who wants to do and try everything in life, but greatly vulnerable and sometimes undecided about on what they truly wants to do in life. Gracie is very spontaneous and brave, but she also pushes away people who truly care about her. I guess that is just the ups and downs of being a growing teenager. Even though I cannot connect thoroughly with her character, I love how the writer successfully connects the meaning and worth of life with Gracie’s story. Circumstances that happen in the story test Gracie’s view on the worth of knowledge learned from school towards to the reality of life. There are a few discussions on the quality of life, where she feels like quitting school. At some point of life, you will realise the ugly truth of the cycle of life. You have to work hard to earn. You cannot escape it. I feel very enlightened by the moral of the story. Sometimes in life, we do get carried away with life that we fail to realise the meaning of it.

The ending is okay, everything that I expect it to be. I like how Gracie tries to face the music after for what she has done. Gracie goes through some intense self-development and self-discovery in her journey, and that is why I can say that this book is one of the best coming-of-age story ever.

I look forward to read the next book of the series, To Be Perfectly Honest.

Thank you Pansing Books for providing a copy in exchange of an honest review.

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Sabrina