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!)


GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | THE BOOK DEPOSITORY

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Book Review: The Astonishing Color of After

Book Review: The Astonishing Color of After

I received an ARC of each book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Leigh is only sixteen when her mother dies by suicide, leaving nothing but the words, “I want you to remember.” And this leads her on a journey to Taiwan in search of a bird, to meet the grandparents she never knew and hopefully learn about the life her mother never spoke about.

I can tell you it’s been a while since I finished a book and immediately started sobbing after completing it. The Astonishing Color of After was a wonderful, visually and writing-wise, novel about grief and family. There’s just so much to it. It’s a mystery with Leigh uncovering secrets her mother buried years ago through memories. But it’s also a love story as Leigh struggles with her relationship with her best friend, Axel. Her mother’s passing changes everything. And both sides of the story are equally beautiful and enthralling. But the family is the heart and strength of this story, and it indeed is so astonishing.

There’s also a magical element to this novel. Leigh experiences the past in the form of burning incense and items such as photographs, and she’s able to experience her family history from the perspectives of her family members. This allowed her to understand what she never could before and to accept the daunting choices that were made. This aspect of this was so, so gorgeous and Pan’s style made this so stunning to experience.

Overall, there are so many words to describe this novel: stunning, extraordinary, beautiful, gorgeous. The lyrical prose, Leigh’s strength and struggles as she tries to connect with a past she wishes she knew and while accepting a new future. She finds what she needed, and the ending was so satisfying. A beautifully-told story, and one that I’ll definitely remember.


GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | THE BOOK DEPOSITORY

tw: suicide – mentions of it through the book and also the moments just after it. Depression.(if you’ve read the book and feel like I’ve missed something out, please tell me!)

Book Review: Saints and Misfits

Book Review: Saints and Misfits
 Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

 

I can’t imagine what it means to love everyone, but I’m going to start right here, by loving a bit more of myself. And maybe then the rest will follow.

Janna Yusuf is surrounded by saints and misfits. She’s just trying to make sense of her life, and her feelings for an unreachable boy. But a particular monster, masked as a saint, is making it difficult for her. She can’t ignore him but she isn’t ready to speak the truth and if she does, what will others think of her?

Saints and Misfits has one of the most appreciable Muslim representations I’ve seen in a young adult novel. Ali nicely and quickly captures the life of Muslim teen that felt real. We see Janna living an ordinary life: Janna attends mosque events, wears the hijab while also going through typical teen drama and daily school life. Islam isn’t this HUGE block that’s separated from her, it’s weaved and incorporated into the plot, in a way that felt natural.  It’s a coming of age story that felt normal. There was nothing wrong with Janna being Muslim, and that felt so good to read.

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Book Review: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

Book Review: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5)

I received an ARC of each book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Set in the fictional world of Orléans, a small number of girls are born with the ability to use magic to create beautiful looks for a dull general population. Camellia and her sister, known as the Belles, have trained their entire lives to be chosen as the Queen’s favourite and responsible for keeping the royal family beautiful.

The world of Orléans is beautiful, a decadent society with a darker history. Everyone is born grey, and it’s the role of the Belles to bring beauty, but it comes with a price. This book is jam-packed with sweet descriptions of a seemly beautiful world until the ugliness leaks out as the story goes on. Clayton’s Orléans is unique and thrilling; while it took a while for it to grip me at first, the ending is where it gets horrific and exciting. A fantasy world means there’s a lot to set up, but once the significant event starts happening, the pace improved.

Continue reading “Book Review: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton”

Book Review: Replica

Book Review: Replica

Rating: ★★✩✩✩ (2/5)

[So I actually wrote this review back in November, but for some reason, I lost it in my drafts and forgot to publish it]

Replica follows the lives of two seemingly different girls – Lyra, a test subject locked away in a research facility, and Gemma, a lonely teen whose investigation in her family’s past leads to her meeting Lyra and slowly unravelling the truth behind her family.

I tried, really tried, to read and enjoy this. I truly did. Its plot and concept from the outside scream a perfect read for me. Especially with the creative layout, the book can be read from one POV or alternative. I set myself up to read an excellent book, but it just didn’t grab my attention.

You get the impression of an exciting sci-fi novel, but it’s just a very cheesy YA romance with a sci-fi tint. It starts off interesting (I read the chapters alternatively), watching the lives of these two girls and how they differ but you can guess what happens. Nothing is surprising because it’s been done so many times and Oliver doesn’t add anything that makes it stand out, aside from reading format.

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Book Review: They Both Die At The End

Book Review: They Both Die At The End

Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

Just minutes after midnight, Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio receive their Death-Cast calls: they are going to die today. Despite being total strangers, they find themselves meeting each other and having one final adventure on their last day ever.

Can you believe he spoils the ending with the title and I still found myself a total wreck by the end? I have not read any single Adam Silvera book before reading this, but if they’re all as gut-wrenching and amazing as this: count me in.

The concept is so fantastic and Silvera has created such an inventive, alternate world.  It’s very character-driven as the book encompasses a whole day in the life of two teens as they go around whatever they want. Mateo’s introverted, while Rufus is more outgoing, but both use this day to truly be themselves without the fear of judgement because, hey, they’re dying today.

They visit their favourite food places, close friends and visiting Mateo’s dad in the hospital. It’s packed with moments of emotions and first experiences. The plot was very sweet and sentimental. They’re very empathetic characters which such different personalities but somehow connect and spend the day working together to have a fulfilling ‘Last Day’. At its core, it’s basically a message of carpe diem but it plays out in such an interesting way

One of my favourite parts was the inclusion of other character’s perspective. When I first saw it, I wasn’t too sure of it since most of the time, it never works. But here it did. In between the main story, we get a brief glimpse into the lives of many other characters. Even though they aren’t central to the main story, it shows how the actions of other people are connected to plot in some way.

To be honest, I don’t have many criticisms aside from the technicality of Death-cast and the one-day love story. I would ignore this if I was you guys, I’m just being technical. You’re called on your mobile that you’re doing to die that day but what if you don’t have a phone? Does some scary man knock on your door at midnight and be like ‘so ya, you’re gonna die today?’ Or maybe the universe is set up in a way that everyone has one but just doesn’t seem plausible. Also, I’m just very sceptical of one-day love stories, maybe it was all for plot’s sake, though, but I loved their story, nonetheless.

Overall, it’s easily one of my favourite books this year. It’s so great and I definitely need to bump Silvera’s books up my reading list. I would recommend this one to anyone!


GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | THE BOOK DEPOSITORY |

tw: death of LGBTQIA+ characters, anxiety, mentions of suicide (if you’ve read the book and feel like I’ve missed something out, please tell me!)