Review: Sadie

Review: Sadie

Rating: ★★★★★

“And Sadie, if you’re out there, please let me know.

Because I can’t take another dead girl. “

After her little sister was murdered, Sadie goes in search for revenge. West McCray is a radio personality who stumbles across her story and begins his own podcast to track her down. Slowly, he starts to trace Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened before it’s too late.

Sadie hits hard. Words like perfect and amazing does not do this book justice.  Sadie is basically half book/half podcast. We follow Sadie as she leaves her dead-end town in search of the man who hurt her sister. Sadie having raised her sister, Claire, from a young age, she loved her sister fiercely. When she’s gone, she’s thrown in a path to find her sister’s murderer and kill him. Radio star West McCray follows a bit after, filling in the gaps that Sadie doesn’t mention and reveals all new information that she wouldn’t have known.

Sadie was a haunting read, a story of loss and betrayal, anger and grief. These two sisters relied on each other to handle the ugliness of the world around them, the world that failed to protect them. The sense of urgency you get and the feeling of rush, especially in the audiobook, is honestly exhilarating.

The podcast portions were so great and worked well, especially when you alternate from the messiness of Sadie’s mind as she’s coming to terms with the fact that her journey must end with a dead man. West McCray’s voice is soothing, and his podcast provides a different insight into Sadie’s life.

Overall, this story is uncomfortable and powerful. It’s cast of characters genuine and believable. I would recommend listening to the audiobook because it honestly was an experience.


GOODREADS | AMAZON | AUTHOR

Content warning: pedophilia, child sexual abuse, parental neglect, mentions and descriptions of substance abuse.

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Review: The Poet X

Review: The Poet X

Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

Xiomara is the titular The Poet X who learns to find her voice in the pages of her journal, hidden from the world. Her passion and frustration grows in the pages of her notebook, reciting stories that must never leave the pages the ink drys on. But when she’s invited to her school’s slam poetry club, Xiomara decides to speak up in a world that doesn’t want to hear from her.

The Poet X follows Xiomara’s life as she tackles a world that works not in her favour. A world that doesn’t want to hear from her. The story tackles and addresses so many important topics. One of the main issues is sexual harassment and how victims of it are affected, especially from a young age like Xiomara. Another is how Xiomara grapples with living in a conservative household with religious parents. We follow Xiomara as she handles the shame, fear and confusion as she tries to fit in the boxes life had already decided for her.

Continue reading “Review: The Poet X”

Review: The Gauntlet

Review: The Gauntlet

Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

Barely adjusting to her new home in the Upper East Side, Bangladeshi-American kid Farah finds herself sucked into the game of The Gauntlet of Blood and Sand after her younger brother, Ahmad, vanishes into the game. Alongside her friends, she must complete three challenges and failure to win will trap them- and Ahmad- forever.

I’ve been anticipating this book since Salaam Reads was first announced. And I can definitely confirm that this book was so worth the wait.

I really, really enjoyed the world building and game design. The way the story is mapped out is really brilliant. I hope to, maybe, see a graphic novel of this series somewhere down the line because of the Middle Eastern and South Asian influences Raizi had made a very dazzling and creative world. The way the world moves in pieces like a game was so pretty to imagine.

Farah is pretty headstrong and a loveable lead who is very aware of her own weaknesses. She’s constantly struggled with her want to ditch the challenge in search of her brother versus her need to navigate her and her friends out of the game. And she works alongside her friends to complete each challenge. Their friendship is very cute and they work well together, recognising each other’s strengths and weaknesses. They’re all very intuitive and logical in situations that would have me in tears. (ahah)

I think the only downside was the lack of characterisation for Essie and Alex. Farah’s character comes out really strongly and the other two do come across as being more archetypes rather than their own persons. Also, its cultural aspects were so adorable and great to read. While the world seems almost alien to her friends, Essie and Alex, Farah finds familiarity in it and so did I. I wished this book existed when I was a kid.

Overall, it’s a solid fantasy debut in an exciting game world. At its heart, a story of family and friendship, making it a great for any young readers.


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Review: Warcross

Review: Warcross

Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

Warcross has taken the world by storm. Millions log in every day, millions are made every day from it. And Emika Chen has hacked her way in. Now its creator, Hideo Tanaka, wants to hire her, a teenage hacker, to undercover its biggest security issue.

Warcross is seriously one of the best books I’ve read this year. I can’t believe how much I loved this book. It’s so thrilling and engaging that I was so shocked how well this book suited my reading taste. (Seriously, if anyone knows any other books like this, throw them my way.) I loved everything about this.

The world its set in is so annoying amazing that I’m mad we don’t, as humanity, have not reached the kind of technology there is in Warcross. Warcross is, in simple terms, a VR game where the player is literally immersed into their environment. The sky’s the limit basically in this game. And like we have Smash Bros tournaments, there are competitions where the best players are pitted against each other in the ultimate gaming tournament. It’s so brilliant to read how the game worked, which connected users worldwide and made VR practically actual reality. The workings of the game were so much fun!

I have to admit the plot twist in this book was very predictable. I picked it up quite early who it was that was hacking into the Warcross system, but I have to admit I was completely thrown off by the other half of the reveal as well. I’m just glad I read the book now when its sequel, Wildcard, is closer to being released.

Just from this one book alone, I now understand the hype around Marie Lu’s books. If my TBR list weren’t so jam-packed, I would’ve read everything else she has written in a heartbeat straight after reading Warcross. Her cast of characters here are so amazing and brilliant, and I quickly grew to love in like seconds. They’re all so different but work so well together. I can’t tell you how great they are. I think Hideo may be the only character that still hasn’t grown as me, especially as the love interest. His role out of that was so engrossing, and I absolutely loved him. I’m a picky romance reader even in a book I loved like this, it just didn’t get to me. Like the development between them was sweet but, again, not for me.

Overall, there were certain elements, such as game design, to its world that left questions and some moments of predictability but nonetheless, I enjoyed it a lot. Like damn, I’m more upset that this is the first Marie Lu book I’ve read. What have I been missing out?


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Book Review: Final Draft

Book Review: Final Draft

Rating: ★★★★★

* I received an ARC of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  This in no way affected my opinion of the book.

Laila Piedra lives for the stories she writes, and the only person who reads them is her creative writing teacher. Until he ends up in the hospital and he’s replaced by a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist who is exceptionally critical and continuously unimpressed. Her strange assignment leads Laila on an obsessive journey to win her praise.

I have a soft spot for Riley Redgate. Seven Ways We Lie, her debut novel, was the reason I started giving contemporary novels another chance and I really, really enjoyed Final Draft. There was something personal yet universal about it.

Final Draft perfectly tackles the anxiety of writers. Laila has no idea what her future holds but what she is sure of is her stories even if she never lets anyone read them. I related so damn much with part of her. I couldn’t also allow anyone read any of the fanfiction I had written when I was younger, even hiding under a pseudonym so it couldn’t be traced to me. Laila yearns to make something that people will love, the same way she loves her favourite series. But she’s never satisfied, even when she’s told she is doing well. She’s literally her own worst critic. But the introduction of the new teacher means Laila must face a different approach and starts to experience more things in a real-life setting to improve her writing.

The only one real criticism I have, which is practically the same as Seven Ways We Lie, was the lack of responsibility the new teacher had. Though technically she can claim deniability since she never told the students explicitly to do the things they do but suggesting students do things that could potentially put them in danger and or upset someone was a bit irresponsible. But she’s a very ambiguous character, so you’ll understand what she’s trying to do while not fully appreciating the ways she does it.

Final Draft is a coming of age story about grief, first love and self-love as Laila learns to manage the fear that holds her back. It’s very relatable, straightforward and entertaining to read. Look out for this when it comes out.


GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | THE BOOK DEPOSITORY

Book Review: Starfish

Book Review: Starfish

Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

I received a copy of this via Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review!

Starfish follows Kiko, a growing artist, who dreams being accepted into her dream art school and finally be free of her abusive mother.

Starfish was brutal and brilliant, all in one go. Kiko’s story was tough to read but so authentic to experience. I truly loved the sections where it shows what Kiko wanted to say versus what she actually says. It was a great way of showing Kiko’s struggle and the art description at the end of each chapter were beautiful. I loved the writing and the way Akemi wrote this story, as we read about Kiko’s journey accept herself. I found myself connecting with Kiko on so many levels, Starfish was indeed an experience to read.

I will warn you, Bowman did say she wrote this for people who need to see their experiences brought to life, and, boy, she did do exactly that. It was a struggle to read this. Her mother’s behaviour is nauseating to read but felt so real.

Although the romance isn’t a massive subplot in this book, it wasn’t the most enjoyable part of it, partly because of Jamie’s ignorance. I get that he doesn’t understand (spoiler-ish, we learn from one of the reveals, that he sort of does) but there were too many moments where Kiko’s anxiety was being framed as absurd and not usual from his lines. And him submitting Kiko’s art and showing her images to others without her knowledge and permission was teeth-grindingly annoying. We get it, he loves her, but forcing her into certain things wasn’t okay for me.

Overall, Akemi has created a beautiful and emotional story about learning to love yourself when others told you it’s impossible. Read it if you can, it’s not one to be missed.

TW: sexual abuse, racism, emotional abuse, parental abuse/neglect, suicide attempt. (If you’ve read the book and feel like I’ve missed something else, please tell me!)


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