Review: A Torch Against the Night (Sabaa Tahir)

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Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: August 29th 2017 (First published August 30th 2016)
Format: Paperback
Source: Times Reads
Page Count: 452

Blurb from Goodreads:

Elias and Laia are running for their lives. After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.

Laia is determined to break into Kauf—the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison—to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars’ survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom.

But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene—Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike.

Bound to Marcus’s will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own—one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape…and kill them both.


RATING

4.5 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

It has been a while since I’ve read something so dark and intense. That’s probably the reason why I managed to read the book just in a day. Frankly speaking, at first I was scared that I won’t be able to enjoy this book as much because it has been three years since I read An Ember in the Ashes so, it is safe to say that I didn’t remember any important details from the first book. Besides, I remembered what I initially felt about the book once I finished reading it, that I was aware that some of the plot lines were similar to fantasy books I’ve read before, to a point where I went to watch reviews on BookTube to validate my opinion and apparently some BookTubers also agreed on this.

A Torch Against the Night continues exactly where the first one left off. The first few chapters are so engaging and that makes me so pumped to continue the rest of the book. We receive so many new information in this second book regarding the characters and their origins and that shows how everything either it is big or small plays into a larger story. I love character-driven stories because you get to see how they evolve and change from time to time. For instance, Laia, Elias and Helene. Sabaa Tahir writes them as human beings with instincts and feelings, rather than just plot devices to carry out the story. All of their acts in the story are supported by their own thinking process and not influenced by any other entity. I also love that the characters evolve so much in this book, if to compare with the first one. I absolutely love Helene’s character progression, where she grows as a human being by realizing and reflecting to her past doings and mistakes. I cannot wait to see where the story leads her in A Reaper at the Gates!

All in all, this book is truly a PAGE-TURNER. Once you read this, you cannot stop and when you finish it, you will crave for more. Like I do.

Thank you Times Reads for providing me this wonderful copy of A Torch Against the Night!

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Sabrina

 

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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: The Weight of Water (Sarah Crossan)

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Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Publication Date: May 2nd 2019
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 259

Blurb from Goodreads:

Armed with a suitcase and an old laundry bag filled with clothes, Kasienka and her mother leave Poland and head for the UK to find her father. Life is lonely for Kasienka. At home her mother’s heart is breaking and at school Kasienka finds it impossible to make new friends. While the search continues, Kasienka is kept afloat by William, a boy she meets at the local pool who understands what it means to lose someone and who swims with Kasienka towards her new life.


RATING

4 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

The Weight of Water tells the reader on how to pick up the pieces when everything you know is turned on its head and you have to start all over again. The moment I laid my eyes on the synopsis, I knew that this book is going to be great in terms of self-exploration. I love reading self-exploration books as it gives us an idea on what are truly made of based on our intellectual and spiritual capacities.

At first, I didn’t expect this to be a poetry book. The moment I opened the book and flipped the pages, the content was written in verses. I don’t usually opt for poetry books because I don’t find them appealing at times. However, once I started reading it, I fell in love with the story.

I mark this as Young Adult because the issues discussed in the book were mostly about teenagers facing difficulties on family matters and adapting in the society. Mature audiences will appreciate the book even better because there were adult issues faced by the protagonist’s mother. The protagonist faced such an ordeal in her life, with abrupt changes such as relocating to another country with different mother tongue with no money and jobs to support them.

I have so many favorite verses in The Weight of Water and this verse is one of them:

We weren’t on a ship.
Immigrants don’t arrive on
Overcrowded boats any more,
Swarming wet docks like rats.
It isn’t 1920 and it isn’t Ellis Island –
Nothing as romantic as a view of
Lady Liberty
To welcome us.

This story is very touching but at the same time, enjoyable to read. I would definitely pick up any poetry book by Sarah Crossan anytime soon to enjoy more of her masterpieces!

Thank you Pansing Books for providing me this awesome review copy!

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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: 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

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!

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Sabrina