Review: Somebody Give This Heart a Pen (Sophia Thakur)

45998211._SY475_Genre: Young Adult Poetry
Publisher:
 Walker Books Ltd
Publication Date: October 3rd 2020
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 107

Blurb from Goodreads:

A compelling collection of poems that explores the emotions and experiences of growing up as a mixed-race woman.

From acclaimed performance poet Sophia Thakur comes a powerful new collection of poems exploring issues of identity, difference, perseverance, relationships, fear, loss and joy. The collection is arranged as life is: from youth to school, to home life, falling in love and falling straight back out again. The poems draw on the author’s experience as a young mixed-race young woman trying to make sense of a lonely and complicated world. With a strong narrative voice and emotional empathy, this is poetry that will resonate with all young people, whatever their background, and whatever their dreams. As she says, she hopes the poems will help readers “grow through what they go through”.


RATING

3 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

It has been a while since I read a poetry book. I don’t usually gravitate towards poetry, but once in a while I would love to read some to broaden my reading picks. I’ve read Milk and Honey and The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur and I enjoy them.

This book is divided to a few sections which are the process of life, from growing, waiting, breaking and growing again. It’s a poetry full of stories about race, politics, love, family, friendship and heartbreak.

I love parts where the author writes about her mom’s perseverance in life and I can totally relate it to mine. Mothers are always so kind yet so brave in dealing with obstacles. I cannot relate on the love and heartbreak part but I can feel the pain that the author feels.

Some poetry books are underdone, like just when you read someone’s diary. However, Somebody Give This Heart A Pen is not. The writing is just so brilliant with insightful and perceptive words that makes you crave for more.

There are many great verses in this one but this one verse truly caught my attention. Here it is:

“Do you find peace when you are alone? Or do you claw your laptop open. Chain you eyes to you phone. Trade your thoughts for someone else’s? Too busy to impose on yourself for a moment.”

Thank you so much Pansing Books for sending me a finished copy of Somebody Give This Heart A Pen.

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Sabrina

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Review: The M Word (Brian Conaghan)

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Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Publication Date: October 1st 2019
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 337

Blurb from Goodreads:

Moya. The M Word. Whisper it. Conceal it. But please, never mention it …

Maggie Yates talks to her best friend Moya every day.

She tells her about Maggie’s mum losing her job. She tells her that Mum’s taken to not opening the curtains and crying in secret. And she tells her about how she plans to cheer Mum up – find her a fella with a bit of cash to splash.

Moya is with her every step of the way. You’re surfing a rainbow if you think someone like that exists round here, she smiles. But I’ll help.

But at the back of her mind Maggie knows that Mum’s crying is more than sadness. That there are no easy fixes. And that Moya’s not really there. Because though she talks to her every day, Moya died months ago…

An unforgettable novel about grief and healing from Costa and Irish Book Award winner Brian Conaghan.


RATING

3 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

I’m going to be honest with you that this is a hard read for me. I go through this book honestly expecting it to be similar to The Weight of a Thousand Feathers, but unfortunately it is not. I love The Weight of a Thousand Feathers so much that I rated it a solid five stars and it was definitely one of the best books I’ve read in 2018.

The M Word tackles so many taboo topics like anxiety, stress disorder, clinical depression and also suicide. I truly appreciate that trigger warnings are stated at the cover of the book, saying it contains strong language and adult themes and it is not suitable for younger readers, to minimize harm. The story is so authentic and emotionally raw that sometimes I feel very uncomfortable reading it because it seems very intimate.

The main protagonist, Maggie Yates is truly a strong character. She is 17 and about to enter college, but her whole life is tumbling down, from her mom being jobless, to being diagnosed with mental illness to having her best friend died. She is not in a good state of mind so she tries to find something that can ease her pain.

This book truly shows what it feels to be at the lowest of the low and how life can be very excruciating at times. There are plenty of descriptive self harming in the book, so be very cautious while reading the scenes because it can be very disturbing.

What bothers me is the progression of the story. I am not hooked at all for the first hundred pages because there is no big development whatsoever. It gets better towards the end of the book. I am also irritated by the fact that there are too much swearing in the book that is somehow intolerable.

Read this if you are searching for something different in the YA space in terms of mental health issues.

Thank you Pansing Books for sending me a copy of The M Word.

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Sabrina

 

Review: The Cheerleaders (Kara Thomas)

42861591._SY475_.jpgGenre: Young Adult Thriller
Publisher: Ember
Publication Date: August 6th 2019
Format: Paperback
Source: Times Reads
Page Count: 372

Blurb from Goodreads:

There are no more cheerleaders in the town of Sunnybrook.

First there was the car accident–two girls dead after hitting a tree on a rainy night. Not long after, the murders happened. Those two girls were killed by the man next door. The police shot him, so no one will ever know his reasons. Monica’s sister was the last cheerleader to die. After her suicide, Sunnybrook High disbanded the cheer squad. No one wanted to be reminded of the girls they’d lost.

That was five years ago. Now the faculty and students at Sunnybrook High want to remember the lost cheerleaders. But for Monica, it’s not that easy. She just wants to forget.

Only, Monica’s world is starting to unravel. There are the letters in her stepdad’s desk, an unearthed, years-old cell phone, a strange new friend at school. . . . Whatever happened five years ago isn’t over. Some people in town know more than they’re saying. And somehow, Monica is at the center of it all.

There are no more cheerleaders in Sunnybrook, but that doesn’t mean anyone else is safe.


RATING

3 STARS

HERE’S MY THOUGHTS!

TW: Sexual assault, statutory rape, abortion, suicide, pedophilia and depression.

Apart from reading contemporary and fantasy books, I am always drawn to crime and mystery stories. I can even immerse myself watching crime stories on the television for hours. So when I am given the chance to read The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas, I am extremely thrilled to read it.

I fly through this book so easily due to its compulsive nature and easy readability. This kind of book makes you hungry for more. Even though it is a fast read, I cannot help but feel that the story is very heavy, as it discusses about real issues surrounding teenagers. Trigger warning should be placed at the beginning of the book to avoid harm.

The premise is interesting enough for me to follow, but there are no surprising revelations that make me fell out of the chair. When the plot starts to be so predictable, that’s when it becomes so formulaic. Most of the story is told from Monica’s perspective, but we do have bits of Jennifer’s point of view leading up to the cheerleader’s death. It is terrifying (but not so surprising!) to see how the mysteries started to reveal.

I truly appreciate the female relationship in this book, between Monica and Ginny who always support each other, rather than showing girls who backstab one another.

Unfortunately for me, the ending is so anticlimactic. I don’t like how the story ends because I think it can be even better. To be honest, I can easily predict the person who is responsible for the deaths. At first, you will doubt any character that you meet in the story and anything that you think you know. But after a while, you can get the gist of the story already.

All in all, I wish the book has a twistier mystery to reveal. It is an okay book and I know that there are better thriller books out there. I hear good things about Kara Thomas’ Little Monsters, so I am excited to try that one out.

Special thanks to Times Reads for providing me a finished copy of The Cheerleaders.

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Sabrina

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

 

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