Double Review: Shadow of the Fox and Soul of the Sword

Double Review: Shadow of the Fox and Soul of the Sword

Double rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)

*I received a copy of both books via the publisher and NetGalley in return for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.*

Shadow of the Fox follows young Yumeko who is forced on the run when her temple is destroyed by demons in search of a piece of an ancient text which summons one wish once every thousand years. With nothing but her kitsune powers, she teams up with a samurai who wields a demon-possessed sword and is unaware the very thing he’s searching for is hidden within the folds of Yumeko’s clothes.

This book was quite fascinating. Inspired by feudal Japan, I found Shadow of the Fox quite refreshing in the first chapters. It’s a great mix of samurai fighting, demon magic and folklore. Every thousand years, a dragon returns to grant one wish to the bearer of its scroll. Fearful of its power, the scroll ripped and scatted across the lands. Yumeko is a kitsune who was taught to hide from her abilities, making her quite a naive little child in the beginning chapters. But once evil descends on her temple, she is thrown right out of her comfort zone and into the real world where foes are at her every step, and every village seems to be hiding a secret that can kill. Tatsumi is our brooding love interest, who fears that he’s unable to carry the sword he wields.

The rest of the group that ends up in Yumeko’s journey are the highlight of this series. Despite the dark theme, they’re quite cheeky and unique that provides a strange presence of entertainment that I hadn’t expected from the book.

Despite enjoying their group dynamic, their mini-adventure detracts from the main plot for a vast majority of this book that felt quite formulaic. Yumeko and Tatsumi are clearly on opposite ends of each other, and their journey was just one long love angst that I didn’t really have much interest in. While I really enjoyed Yumeko’s growth and it felt like it kept digressing a lot. There’s a lot of switching up: one minute she’s naïve, and the next page she’s cunning before returning to appearing like a common fool for the sake of the comedic moment. The inner struggle between Tatsumi and the sword deserved more than what we’re given.

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Short Review: Pan’s Labyrinth

Short Review: Pan’s Labyrinth

Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5)

*I received a copy via the publisher and NetGalley in return for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.*

Inspired by the 2006 films, for those who haven’t watched it, Pan’s Labyrinth is set in WW2 Spain. Where a young girl named Ofelia discovers a dense forest and a labyrinth of secrets, which sets her off on a series of tasks to reclaim her place as the missing princess.

Pan’s Labyrinth is one of the first movies I can recall watching as a child. I knew I was too young because Pan and the Pale Man haunted my dreams for years to come after watching it. And this book really brought all that fear back into me. Funke and del Toro have come together and created this dark novel that follows the film while also developing the folklore of the world.

The book rarely strays from the movie, following Ofelia as she moves into a new home after her mother remarries. She’s enticed by the faun that makes everything seem like a page out of her stories. The faun reveals that Ofelia is their princess, reincarnated, who must complete three tasks before she can return home. With her mother barely surviving her pregnancy, and her step father’s cruelty turns darker and darker, Ofelia is swept into a dangerous world that exists within the labyrinth and the world outside her door.

To adapt such a movie into a written story is no ordinary feat and del Toro and Funke really work well together and recraft the narrative to recreate a dark and mesmerising tale. My favourite addition was the interspersed folklore tales that developed the underworld that Ophelia seeks. I was mainly worried about this book just merely rehashing the movie plot, but this story will definitely be a treat to fans and newcomers alike.


GOODREADS | AMAZON | BOOK DEPOSITORY | AUTHORS (del Toro & Funke)

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#RamadanReadathon 2019 Wrap Up!

#RamadanReadathon 2019 Wrap Up!

Eid Mubarak, everyone! Today, I’m going to be wrapping up my first ever #RamadanReadathon. I honestly can’t believe how quickly this Ramadan has gone this year. I hope everyone had a productive month. I did manage to complete the readathon and overall, I had some fun reading my chosen books.

I had chosen the Salah pillar and I read a total of five books. I have yet to review all of them but expect reviews up in the upcoming month!

A Torch Against the Night

Having read Ember almost five years ago, I was surprised how well my own memory held up to this book. If I can recall, I was a little iffy about Embers but after reading Torch, I think it was just my general feelings about the first book in a series. I tend to not enjoy the first book in series but find myself thoroughly enjoying the rest of the series a whole lot more. (see: shatter me series)

Exit West

I didn’t clock on that this book about the refugee experience and migration until very later on, but once I did, it was eye-opening and poignant. The use of fabulism to explore migration was a genius concept and I would really love to read more stories that use this take as well.

Secrets of the Henna Girl

While I didn’t hate any of the books I read for this readathon, I would, for list-sake, have placed Secrets of the Henna Girl last. But that doesn’t mean it was terrible, it was actually really great. I’ve just read quite a few stories about SEA girls being taken back home to marry people recently, it was hard not to compare it to them.

We Hunt the Flame

Hands down, one of the BEST books I’ve read this month. Altair has my heart and soul. That cliffhanger was jaw-dropping and I kind of hate myself for reading this as a new release. I need the next one ASAP.

Amina’s Voice

Amina’s voice was a delightful read, and definitely one that I would’ve loved if it was released when I was a kid. Something about it captured me and was so charming to read. This book was made for younger readers, so I can’t complain about my issue with the pacing. The named attack on her local mosque doesn’t actually occurs until 80% into the book.


Overall, I’m happy with how this month went. I’m not the greatest with readathons because I have a lot going on and time management, especially on my blog, is something I struggle with. But I had so much fun finally reading some of the books on my list and I’m definitely taking part in next year’s readathon.

And that’s a wrap on my first ever #RamadanReadathon! I hope to be back next year!

#RamadanReadathon 2019 TBR

#RamadanReadathon 2019 TBR

I’m so excited to be sharing my TBR for this year’s #RamadanReadathon! I’ve been wanting to join this ever since its start but Ramadan, the last few years, has always fallen during the same months as exam season. Now, that I’m little more organised that I have been in the last few years, I’ve already started/ completed my assignment for this year so I can join this year without deadlines looming behind my head.

The main focus of this readathon is to celebrate and support Muslim authors during the holy month of Ramadan.The main focus this year is a bingo board that is themed around the five pillars of Islam. Each pillar has four different prompts and one free space to complete! To participate in this reading challenge, you must choose one or more of the pillars to complete and, beginning at the bottom, work your way up the board.

MY TBR (the Salah pillar)

A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes, #2)

BOOK IN A SERIES
A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes #2)
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.


I actually read the first book in this series, An Ember in the Ashes, back in it’s pre-release days. I remember really enjoying this book and thinking that I had to immediately read the next book. That was back in 2015! I think this book has been on my TBR for too long! A reread maybe in order or finding a recap because it’s been a long four years and I can’t remember anything.

Exit West

Free Space
Exit West

In a city far away, bombs and assassinations shatter lives every day. Yet, even here, hope renews itself, welling up through the rubble. Somewhere in this city, two young people are smiling, hesitating, sharing cheap cigarettes, speaking softly then boldly, falling in love.


My university works with the Booker Prize foundation on a scheme that gives students books to read each year. This was their 2018 pick. We call it the Big Read and I also had an opportunity to meet the author but my sister and her in-laws came to visit so I couldn’t attend. 🙁

Secrets of the Henna Girl

Contemporary Fiction
Secrets of the Henna Girl

Zeba Khan is like any other sixteen-year-old girl: enjoying herself, waiting for exam results… and dreaming of the day she’ll meet her one true love. Except her parents have other plans. In Pakistan for the summer, Zeba’s world is shattered. Her future is threatened by an unthinkable – and forced – duty to protect her father’s honour.


This one has been on my Kindle for so long and I never found the time to read it. So glad I found the opportunity now!

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Recently released
We Hunt The Flame

War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the king on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.


This is actually released in May and I’m grateful for it’s placement in the chart because I think I’ll be in the position to read it right away on release day!

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Name in the title
Amina’s Voice

Amina has never been comfortable in the spotlight. She is happy just hanging out with her best friend, Soojin. Except now that she’s in middle school everything feels different. Soojin is suddenly hanging out with Emily, one of the “cool” girls in the class, and even talking about changing her name to something more “American.” Does Amina need to start changing too? Or hiding who she is to fit in? While Amina grapples with these questions, she is devastated when her local mosque is vandalized.


Another book that’s been on my TBR for too long! Time to fix that!

Well, that’s my TBR for #RamadanReadathon 2019! Are you taking part this year? If so, which pillar(s) are you aiming to complete?

Review: If The Dress Fits

Review: If The Dress Fits

Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

Martha Aguas is living her best life. She travels, works in a job she enjoys, has the greatest best friend, and always does the most to help her family. But her peace is swiftly shattered when her cousin returns from London engaged with the only boy she’s ever loved. Suddenly, the family is all coming together for the big day, but for Martha, it’s slowly coming undone.

If The Dress Fits was brilliant, character-driven story. I have nothing but utmost love for this story, even with some little discrepancies. It was exciting and touching. Martha is very self-deprecating and depending on the person, you either love her or hate her. Max is a sweetheart and another fictional male lead you will desperately wish existed.

This story, at its core, promotes self-love. I see myself in Marta, struggling with my own weight, and facing comments from our similar south-east Asian background. Despite different cultures, the weight issue is very much the same. Martha meets some insulting comments from about appearance, and I really enjoyed that she didn’t take it. Sure, she makes a little comment about her own body, but it’s her own body, and it’s clear she loves herself despite what everyone else says. 

Considering it’s quite short, the various plotlines we get seemed a little mashed together, so the fake dating that sounds like a massive part of the novel from the book’s description doesn’t happen until quite later on. I think we deserve a full-on Crazy, Rich Asian- style book of the Aguas family.

Family is an essential part of this story. Martha loves her family and will do anything for them. And I absolutely love the role her extended family played in this novel, but what bothered me was how quickly everyone seemed to brush off Regina’s comments and actions. She had previously bullied Martha in the past, and quite frankly, it was terrible to read. It is somewhat acknowledged, but I was indeed uncomfortable with the way her appalling behaviour is brushed off because the novel ends that that family-means-all kind of ending. This also applies to the rest of her family as well. And I wouldn’t consider this a proper criticism but for me, since I wouldn’t invalidate this experience just because it didn’t align with my feelings. But I just found it quite difficult to accept that whole “in the end, we’re family, and that’s all that matters,” when it came to the fat-shaming comments Regina and her family had made about her. But I did enjoy the family scenes, most aspects of her relationship with her family were very heart-warming, and I did appreciate the moments where they are honest with each other.

Overall, this is my second read from Carla, and I’m pretty sure she’s now an auto-buy author for me. If The Dress Fits was adorable and romantic.


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Review: The One Memory of Flora Banks

Review: The One Memory of Flora Banks

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ (2/5)

*Review includes major spoilers*

Flora has anterograde amnesia. She can’t remember anything past a few hours and relies on the scribbles on her hand and the people around her. Until she kisses a boy, she shouldn’t and remembers it. But he’s gone now, and that’s all she can remember.

Oh, how do I feel about this? A large part of me was enjoying this book, to begin with despite the rather odd plot, but overall, I didn’t care for this. I kind of feel bad since it was pretty intriguing, but so much little things irked me that when stacked up, my reading experience wasn’t very good.

With a plot like this, it is no doubt very repetitive, and for some, it can be boring. I quite like it in a sense with the stop and start motions. It’s practically a collection of mini-stories where Flora has to repeat herself constantly. I think that part was done in a way that it didn’t feel completely lacking for me. On her hands are the words “Be brave,” and she is an impressive character to do what she does which such bravery.

I know suspension of disbelief is crucial to read this book, especially with this plot, but there’s a lot that I couldn’t just ignore. Like how Flora’s parents think it’s okay to leave their daughter with her best friend for a week. Sure, Paige knows what to do, but that’s a lot of responsibility to place on her. And I wasn’t even mad when Paige said her mum didn’t agree with it because it’s true, you don’t leave her amnesiac daughter with her only friend for a week. How social service did not catch wind of that is beyond me.

Paige isn’t off the hook either since Flora kisses Paige’s ex-boyfriend and, fair enough, she’s upset. It’s normal to be upset when your best friend kisses your boyfriend. But it’s even more reckless to not stay with Flora when she had already agreed with Flora’s parents. Like she just doesn’t even tell Flora’s parents that she’s not coming. Like, WHAT. Putting your friend’s life at risk was just SO BAD. In the end, Paige does what’s right, but it was still unsettling how she knowingly left her friend in danger for the sake of her own empowerment.

Also, Flora’s brother! He’s very much an enigma throughout the novel, whose real story doesn’t come to light until the very last chapters. And that was so disappointing. HE DESERVED BETTER.

Drake doesn’t deserve so much as a couple of lines. I don’t think it was appropriate to have a 19-year-old boy go after a 17-year-old girl who amnesia makes her still think she’s ten-years-old. Fuck that dude.

I’ll stand by this final point. The book should’ve ended where it began. It had Everything, everything vibes and where it ends is where the story becomes more interesting. We learn that Flora’s parents lied about the cause of her amnesia and they’re too scared to let her grow, so they give her drugs which make her more controllable. It ends with Flora learning that her amnesia could go away and leaving her parents to begin discovering herself. A story from there would’ve been more interesting. Or better, a better plot would’ve been replacing boyfriend with brother. Like, Flora remembers a memory of her brother and goes in search of him despite her parent’s disapproval. Honestly, anything apart from having to read about creepy Drake would’ve been worth my time.

Overall, this book followed the wrong parts, in my opinion. There’s so much to Flora that could’ve been uncovered more, but we got stuck with the love plot instead.


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