My rating: 11 / 5 ★ (I WILL GIVE ALL THE STARS IN THE GALAXY FOR THIS BOOK)

But we're family here—we are. Your name fits right in with ours, so don't doubt it for a minute—and family looks out for each other.

TW: Physical and verbal abuse, emotional trauma, sexual harassment, mention of rape

The first time I read this book was when I received an ARC from Pansing, back in 2019. Ever since then, Thorn has been a great comfort read for me that I will reread whenever I fell into a reading slump. I love it so much to the point where I reread it twice this year! I have never written a review of this book on my blog, so here we are, and beware: I'm going to be absolutely biased.

Thorn is a retelling of The Goose Girl. Princess Alyrra has always longed to escape the contempt and abuse of her own family, and when she is betrothed to the powerful Prince Kestrin, she has hopes that she will have a chance for a better life at least. When a sorceress robs her body and identity as a princess before she can reach the prince's kingdom, Alyrra embraces her new life as a goose girl, away from the cruel abuses. But she soon learns that Kestrin is different than what she had feared, and with both the fate of the prince's life and kingdom at stake, Alyrra knows she will have to stand up for what she believes in.

A soft and humble heroin

If I were to list every single thing that I love about Thorn, it will be endless. What I love the most about this book though, is Princess Alyrra herself. It was so easy to love and empathise her character and journey. Alyrra is a soft character, perhaps the softest main character I've ever read in a fantasy book; it felt refreshing to finally get a main character that is not badass and filled with hatred or anger. Don't get me wrong, I love badass characters that are confident with themselves, but encountering someone so soft as Alyrra, I felt seen. I was able to relate so much to Alyrra, and I love the silent courage that she possesses.

Being soft does not mean being weak or useless, and Alyrra clearly shows it. She suffered through domestic abuse her entire life, and instead of letting it bring her down, Alyrra let it shape her into someone better than her abusers. Do take note that apart from domestic abuse, sexual harassment, emotional trauma and rape were also mentioned, although not graphic. I love the way the author included these issues in the story and they were not romanticised at all, but if you're still uncomfortable with the things mentioned, it will be okay to avoid this book.

I also love how humble Alyrra is. Even when she was still a princess at her own kingdom, she treats her people and servants all the same: with respect. That is why it is not difficult for her to adapt with being a goose girl. In fact, the hard work feels better than being trapped with royalties and nobles that constantly deemed her as unworthy, simply because she is honest with her thoughts.

Although she is most definitely content living her life as a goose girl, surrounded with friends that truly loves her, I admired how much she still cares about the fate of Kestrin and the people of Menaiya. Her character growth is perhaps the most wonderful thing to read about in Thorn

Characters that are endearing

Apart from Alyrra, there are many characters that I absolutely adored in Thorn. Especially Falada. Falada is a talking magical horse—did I say, TALKING. MAGICAL. HORSE? Yes. Yes, I did. Falada is the first and truest friend that Alyrra has after she becomes a goose girl. Not only is he loyal to her, he is constantly there for her during her worst moments and gives her advices where it's necessary. I never thought I would ever love a talking horse as much as I love Falada.

And then there is the Wind. The Wind is a wind spirit that Alyrra befriended when she was a child, and just like Falada, the Wind is very loyal towards Alyrra. I cannot say much about its character as that will touch upon a spoiler, but the revelation about the Wind is absolutely my favourite part of the book. The Wind was also mentioned in Brambles, the prequel to Thorn, and you can read my review on the novella here.

Found family

Alyrra may have suffered through domestic abuse growing up, and she has no one to lean on when she ends up being robbed of her identity on the way to a kingdom she knows nothing about. But when she becomes a goose girl, she finds herself new friendsa new family. Sage dotes on her like a gentle mother, while Violet, Ash, Oak and Rowan loves her like older siblings. I am always grateful to these people for accepting Alyrra, for being kind and protective towards her. 

Sort-of platonic love

Another reason why I strongly love Thorn is that it does not let itself get blindly into romance. In fact, I can describe the "love" between Alyrra and Kestrin to be rather platonic. They care deeply for each other (FOR A GOOD REASON, which I will not spoil) and their friendship and trust for each other are more highlighted in the story. But it is also obvious that love will surely bloom for them after the ending of the story, as love that starts from a friendship often comes stronger. I'll admit that I was skeptical of Kestrin at first, but when he proves himself to be good, it is easy to love him.

♡ Great for beginners

There is just so much to love about Thorn, and I believe that this long essay review sums up my feelings without giving any spoilers away. The villains in this story are also traumatising but I love to hate them, so that's definitely a plus. This book is an easy read, which will be a perfect fantasy read for beginner readers. If you're interested in reading a retelling fantasy with a soft heroine that fights with silent courage, endearing side characters and subtle romance, Thorn will be the perfect read!

  • My previous reviews for Thorn: Here & here
  • My review on Brambles: Here

・・・・・・✧・・・・・・✧・・・・・・ 

Title: Thorn
Series: Dauntless Path #1
Author: Intisar Khanani
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling, Romance
Format: Paperback
Publication Date: March 24th 2020
Pages: 460

Synopsis (Goodreads): A princess with two futures. A destiny all her own.

Between her cruel family and the contempt she faces at court, Princess Alyrra has always longed to escape the confines of her royal life. But when she’s betrothed to the powerful prince Kestrin, Alyrra embarks on a journey to his land with little hope for a better future.

When a mysterious and terrifying sorceress robs Alyrra of both her identity and her role as princess, Alyrra seizes the opportunity to start a new life for herself as a goose girl.

But Alyrra soon finds that Kestrin is not what she expected. The more Alyrra learns of this new kingdom, the pain and suffering its people endure, as well as the danger facing Kestrin from the sorceress herself, the more she knows she can’t remain the goose girl forever.

With the fate of the kingdom at stake, Alyrra is caught between two worlds and ultimately must decide who she is, and what she stands for.

・・・・・・✧・・・・・・✧・・・・・・ 

Till next time ♡ Love, Aishah Humaira'


Title: Orestin's Own
Series: -
Author: L. Alyssa Austin
Publisher: -
Genres: Adult Fiction, Fantasy
Format: Ebook
Publication Date: August 24th 2020
Pages: 404

Synopsis (Goodreads): The veil is thinning. Every day more undead creatures slip into Everra. Soon their most terrifying kin, spawn of the dark goddess Orestin, will emerge to devour all life. Master Historian Mycellane enlists an aging Knight and an inexperienced priestess to join him on a journey to obtain an ancient artifact-one that can bring an end to the incursion. But their salvation lies on the other side of the veil, in the Dead Waste of Myrcantos, and only one person can bring them through: a Myrcantan necromancer who remains loyal to the enemy. The path before them leads through a barren, unforgiving land. Ravenous abominations lurk in the shadows. But the greatest danger to their mission is the hatred and distrust they feel for one another...

・・・・・・✧・・・・・・✧・・・・・・ 

My rating: 4 / 5 ★

TW: Violence, age gap


Orestin's Own follows the story of an aging knight (Solarys), an inexperienced priestess (Caelesta) and a necromancer (Malèbrand), who were forced to go on a journey together to seek for an ancient artifact that can bring an end to the darkness that threatens to destroy Everra. There was nothing bright or warm about this story, only bleakness and a rather depressing journey. If I were to describe the story with a colour, it would be grey.


Despite having three main characters, Orestin's Own was told only from the perspective of Solarys and Caelesta, which left Malèbrand to be a wild card throughout the entire story. While Solarys has an immense hatred against Malèbrand for causing the death of many of his fellow knights years ago, it was difficult to figure out how exactly the necromancer felt towards the knight. Caelesta, having no prior histories with any of the two men ends up being stuck in the middle, trying her best to not let the two murder each other, whether with words or even physically.


I believe what I love the most about this book is how soft yet strong Caelesta's character was portrayed. Although she's a priestess being sent to go on a journey following a prophecy, she possesses no strong powers. When the three were attacked by undead creatures along the way, Caelesta struggles to try healing the men and even herself. Her powers never grows stronger despite how much she prays, but she continues on with her own courage, no matter how small it is. In a bleak story where there seemed to be no hope, Caelesta lights it up in her own way. I may have said Malèbrand to be a wild card, but Caelesta herself can be confusing at times as her motivation is never clear. As much as I was able to read from her perspective, there is always something underneath, something that she keeps beneath her duty as a priestess.


To my surprise, the story did touch a bit on a potential romance. Nothing too hot or passionate, just a yearning and rather painful kind of romance. There is an age gap involved—Caelesta is around twenty, while Solarys is described to be around forty. And Malèbrand's age is never explicitly revealed, but I'm guessing he would be somewhere around Solarys' age as well, considering they have gone on the same war before. Some might find it uncomfortable, but to me, Caelesta is already an adult so she's allowed to be in love with anyone much older than her. There is a certain point where it feels that she yearns for both men, but this is no love story, so these feelings all come at great consequences.


Just as bleak as the story goes, the ending is not a happy one either. What makes the story really interesting is that I can hardly guess what might happen next, whether another group of undead creatures are going to attack them brutally again, or if they will hate each other and simply abandon everything—and the ending is a lot, LOT worse than that. My heart shattered for the fate of Solarys, and Caelesta finally realises her true feelings, while Malèbrand turns out to be better than I thought he would be.


I may have used "bleak" many times to describe Orestin's Own, but this book is a very well written fantasy with characters that are different than the ones I used to find in fantasy books. There is no indication that there may be a continuation to the story, but if there is, I'm definitely looking forward to reading more about Caelesta, Solarys and Malèbrand. Many thanks to the author for reaching out to me to provide me this book in exchange for my honest review.


If you're into character-driven dark fantasy with a great world-building and only a hint of romance, well this book will be perfect for you. This book is available to be purchased through Amazon


・・・・・・✧・・・・・・✧・・・・・・

She could kill these creatures, but she didn't want to. This isn't me, she wanted to say.
I'm a healer, not a killer.


Till next time ♡ Love, Aishah Humaira'



Title: The Forevers
Series: -
Author: Chris Whitaker
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Format: Paperback
Expected Publication Date: July 8th 2021
Pages: 355

Synopsis (Goodreads): 30 days until the end of the world.

What would you do?

Accept your destiny and join THE FOREVERS.

Asteroid Selena will be crashing into Earth 8th July 2021.

・・・・・・✧・・・・・・✧・・・・・・ 

My rating: 3 / 5 ★


TW: Mentions of suicide and depression


The main point of The Forevers is that an asteroid will be crashing into Earth in a month. There is only 30 days to live, before the world ends in horrifying explosion. If this were to happen in real life, what will you do in your remaining 30 days?


Mae Cassidy and her peers continue to go to school as usual despite the approaching apocalypse, perhaps holding on to their hope that the government will figure out a way to divert the asteroid's path somewhere else. Apart from the asteroid, there had been multiple suicides committed among the students, and even though depression was announced as the reason for each death, something bigger is happening.


The story starts when Mae finds the body of her childhood best friend floating face down in the sea water. Although the adults insist that it was just another case of suicide, the breadcrumbs that Abi Wanton left behind for Mae proves that something else is going on. Mae is convinced that Abi did not commit suicide but she was murdered, and she will do anything to find the person who caused Abi's death. And Abi also left behind something that she and Mae started: the Forevers.


In terms of writing style, The Forevers is an easy read, but the storyline itself was quite confusing at times for me. I simply cannot see the direction where the plot was heading. But what I love about The Forevers is the murder-mystery, and the likeable characters. Mae is an okay character, but I love her best friend, Felix, and younger sister, Stella. Felix tries his best to avoid sleeping at all because he wants to live his life to the fullest, and I don't blame him. I most definitely would have joined if I were friends with him. Stella is the sweetest little bean, and while Sail sounds suspicious at the start, he ends up being quite nice too.


Apart from that however, there is not really anything special about the plot. The concept of being a 'Forever' baffled me and I still don't really get it, but what I deduced was that it bore the resemblance of of a cult, but perhaps one can say its a belief or hope, where they get themselves tattooed with the word 'Forever' on their wrists by Mae. Since they cannot use the term forever any longer because of the approaching asteroid, being part of the 'Forevers' is probably just a way to cope with the fear. It is a sad yet hopeful thing.


Overall, I did enjoy reading The Forevers, mainly thanks to its characters. If you love books with murder-mystery, friendship and hope, this book may be a great read for you. Many thanks to Pansing for sending me an ARC of the book in exchange for my honest review. The Forevers will be published into this world on 8th of July 2021!


・・・・・・✧・・・・・・✧・・・・・・

Depression is the inability to construct a future. Seeing as we have no future, we're an army of depressives, Beau.


Till next time ♡ Love, Aishah Humaira'


Title: Rumaysa: A Fairytale
Series: -
Author: Radiya Hafiza
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Genres: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Retellings, Adventure
Format: Paperback
Publication Date: April 1st 2021
Pages: 240

Synopsis (Goodreads): This funny and empowering story weaves together three classic fairytales into one new adventure with an unusual structural twist: Rumaysa is a Muslim girl who lets her hijab down from a tall tower in order to escape. Set in a magical version of South Asia, Rumaysa explores enchanted forests and dragon lairs, teaming up with Cinderayla and Sleeping Sara along the way to create a strong sense of sisterhood.

・・・・・・✧・・・・・・✧・・・・・・ 

My rating: 5 / 5 ★


Have you ever read a book and immediately have the thought, "This is the book that I should have grown up with"? Well, Rumaysa is that kind of book for me. I have read many fairytale retellings, but I have never came across a retelling where the main character is a Muslim, or even a POC. Perhaps I just haven't read that much, but I'll admit that Rumaysa is still one of a kind.


Rumaysa: A Fairytale is a combination of three fairytale retellings: Rapunzel, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. The difference is that Rapunzel is known as Rumaysa, Cinderella as Cinderayla, and Sleeping Beauty as Sleeping Sara. The main character is of course, Rumaysa, and after escaping the witch's tower, she goes on an adventure to look for her parents and came across Cinderayla and Sara.


What I love the most about this book is that even though it stayed true to most parts of the original fairytale, the changes made to it made the stories lovelier and more fun. I also love that each girl has their own strength and qualities, and none of them were depicted as meek or in need of some saving from a boy.


Rumaysa is both brilliant and quick-witted, having figured out how to escape on her own without waiting for a random prince coming to save her. She also has sass and a no-nonsense attitude, which was really refreshing to read. But the most important part is that she has great kindness and compassion in her, despite enduring a lot of harshness from when she was younger. While Cinderayla's character was written quite realistically, I find Sleeping Sara to be relatable. I most definitely will have a difficult time waking up if I have slept for too long.


Apart from the independent female characters that I love, the elements of Islam and South Asian cultures sprinkled generously throughout the book were also part of the charm. From what I understood, there were some Bengali foods and culture mentioned. The holy month of Ramadan was mentioned and the ball in the original Cinderella tale was changed into an Eid Ball, and I absolutely relish them.


Rumaysa: A Fairytale easily became one of my favourite releases in 2021, and the best retelling that I have ever read. The Muslim and Asian elements made me feel proud—this is the very kind of book that my people should read while growing up as it shows that we should be proud of our culture and belief. Your skin colour is beautiful no matter how light or dark-skinned you are. And the girls also show that you should just be yourself and you do not need to depend on boys to save you.


I believe anyone who enjoys reading fantasy and retellings will enjoy reading Rumaysa: A Fairytale, no matter how old you are. Many thanks to Pansing for sending me the review copy in exchange for my honest opinion. This book is now available in all good bookstores!


Find me and my review featured on Twinkl's World Kid Lit Campaign!


・・・・・・✧・・・・・・✧・・・・・・

When she arrived at the foot of the tower, Rumaysa looked for a door of some sort, but there was nothing except a lone window right at the top. 'Do all evil people just like towers and one window?' she said out loud, feeling quite frustrated by now. 'What's the point of being evil if you're not going to be creative about it?'


Till next time ♡ Love, Aishah Humaira'


Title: Witches Steeped in Gold
Series: Witches Steeped in Gold #1
Author: Ciannon Smart
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Witches
Format: Paperback
Publication Date: April 20th 2021
Pages: 544

Synopsis (Goodreads): Trust no witch . . . 

Iraya Adair has spent her life in a cell. Heir of an overthrown and magically-gifted dynasty, she was exiled from her home on the island nation of Aiyca when she was just a child. But every day brings her closer to freedom - and vengeance.

Jazmyne Cariot grew up dressed in gold, with stolen magic at her fingertips. Daughter of the self-crowned doyenne, her existence is a threat to her mother's rule. But unlike her sister, Jazmyne has no intention of dying to strengthen her mother's power.

Sworn enemies, the two witches enter a deadly alliance to take down the woman who threatens both their worlds. But revenge is a bloody pursuit, and nothing is certain - except the lengths Iraya and Jazmyne will go to win this game.

Two witches. One motive. And a very untrustworthy alliance.

・・・・・・✧・・・・・・✧・・・・・・ 

My rating: DNF / 5 ★


Witches Steeped in Gold is a Jamaican inspired fantasy of two young witches, enemies whom are forced to combine their powers to bring back order into their world. It is a story about vengeance, betrayal and distrust. With such a promising and intriguing description, I was almost sure that I would fall madly in love with this book—I have been dying to read more witchy-reads!


Alas, my high expectations fell flat because not only I find myself struggling to read through the story, I also find myself unable to empathise with any of the characters. It pains me to say this, but despite the high ratings for this debut book, I decided to DNF this book. I reached halfway through the book, and I do not wish to force myself to finish it any longer.


I think I may have a problem with the writing style of this author. No hate towards the author, but I felt like the way Smart writes was as if she was trying to be... smart with me. Oh. Well, I was not trying to make a pun or poke fun at the author, but the sentences were worded rather complicatedly that most of the time, I had to repeat the paragraphs over and over. The first 100 pages were exhausting, I really struggled to get through it, and ended simply skimming through the pages. I wish the author could have been more straightforward with her words, but this is probably just my personal opinion.


As for the two main characters, Iraya and Jazmyne, I did not like them enough to want to finish reading the book. The story was told in first person point-of-view of both Iraya and Jazmyne, their chapters alternating. But sometimes I was confused as to who was narrating the chapter, it was difficult to differentiate their voices, making the reading process more frustrating. Iraya seems to be all about vengeance, and although I understand that she certainly should have trust issues, I hated how bitterly she treated most of the people around her. There wasn't much I can say about Jazmyne, since her character barely contributed anything to the plot. She kept questioning herself and literally had no actions at all.


The story was described to be "two sworn enemies becoming allies to take down the woman threatening their worlds", but even halfway through, they barely met each other. Jazmyne may have hatched some plans to use Iraya on her fight, but thanks to her constantly putting herself down, she barely could make anyone trust her words. And that was it. From what I gathered from other people's reviews, it seemed that the two witches only formed alliance almost at the end of the book, before it ended in a quite terrible cliffhanger. I don't think I have enough interest in me to find that out myself.


Witches Steeped in Gold has been a promising debut book initially, but sadly I just could not find myself to like it that much. If you're a beginner reader, I wouldn't recommend reading this as the writing style can be confusing, even to me who has read a lot of fantasy books. But if you enjoy reading fantasy and love stories about independent witches and warriors, then there is no harm for you to try reading this book!


Many thanks to Pansing for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. Witches Steeped in Gold is now available in all good bookstores!


・・・・・・✧・・・・・・✧・・・・・・

Death isn't the answer, it's the problem here.

"If we assassinate her," I ask, challenging them now, "how are we any better? How will this island be less bloody after her than it was before her, when she earned her seat killing the last ruler too?"


Till next time ♡ Love, Aishah Humaira'


Hello! I am excited today to announce that I have joined the team to reveal the book cover of Amok by Anna Tan. Amok is a story about faith, loyalty and war, rich with elements inspired by traditions and cultures that are familiar in Malaysia. This book has easily became one of my favourite books released in 2021, and I hope that more people will read it, especially Malaysians.

Details of the book are also available below, including my review on it. Now, let me present to you the glorious cover art for Amok!


 

Title: Amok
Series: Absolution #1
Author: Anna Tan
Publisher: Teaspoon Publishing
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Format: Ebook
Expected Publication Date: June 24th 2021
Pages: 345

Synopsis (Goodreads): What is faith, except hope in desperation?

All Putera Mikal wants is to gain the Amok Strength, the supernatural power granted by Kudus to the Mahan royal family. No matter how religiously Mikal keeps his vows, Kudus still denies him the Strength—whilst his father, Sultan Simson, flaunts the Strength despite his blatant defiance of the Temple and the priests’ visions of coming doom.

Then the prophecies come true.

Taken captive, Mikal must find a way to liberate his people and restore his throne in Maha—and the key to this is the Amok Strength. But what does it take to gain Kudus’ favour?

・・・・・・✧・・・・・・✧・・・・・・ 

My rating: 5 / 5 ★

Trigger warning: abuse, violence

Amok follows the story of Putera Mikal, the prince of Maha, the first city-state of Terang. All Putera Mikal wanted was for his faith to be acknowledged by Kudus, the God of Terang, and finally gain access to the Amok Strength that all royals are supposed to possess when they come of age. Yet no matter how Mikal kept his vows to Kudus, he was still weak, while his father who defied Kudus continued to flaunt his Amok Strength.


When Maha was suddenly invaded and destroyed by their enemy, Mikal was thrown into sufferings and humiliation—especially when his best friend, Yosua, who used to be his servant, was suddenly revealed to be the enemy's Raja Muda (Crown Prince). And Mikal was forced to bow and turned into Yosua's servant. And no matter how much Mikal prayed, Kudus continuously denied the Amok Strength from him.


I just want to take a short moment to express my appreciation towards the elements of Malay traditions and cultures that were included in Amok. Reading so many Malay words and things like silat (a Malay art of self-defence), our clothings like baju kebaya and samping, titles/positions like Baginda Paduka, Bendahara, Laksamana, etc.—they all felt so close to my heart. They made me enjoy reading the book, and feel proud at the same time to finally see my traditions in a fantasy book.


Amok is quite a fast-paced read and I could not put it down as I kept wanting more of it. One moment, Putera Mikal was only whining because he could not gain the Amok Strength and the rest were at peace, but the next moment, he was betrayed by his very own best friend. It was easy to like Mikal; despite never having enough confidence in himself, he always tried his best for the sake of his people. There were times where he could be seen as a brat, but who can blame him? He was turned from a prince into a servant overnight, and to made it worse, he had to be his best friend's servant.


I loved Yosua from the moment he first appeared in the story. Unlike Mikal who was reckless and rough around the edges, Yosua is softer and much more patient than his prince. Just like Mikal, his position was changed overnight too, from being a servant, to being his best friend's Tuan (Master). Their friendship was put to a terrible test, because unlike in Maha, Yosua's people were more savage and cruel to their servants. In order to keep Mikal safe, Yosua has to play the role as a cruel Tuan. His fierce loyalty towards Mikal rather surprised me, but it still did not change the fact that he had betrayed Mikal.


Apart from Mikal's growth throughout the story, Amok also focused on the bond between Mikal and Yosua. I think there was nothing more heartbreaking than Mikal being abused by someone that used to be his confidant, someone that he used to consider as a brother. Mikal was broken to the point he lost all hope that left him as an empty shell, and at the same time, Yosua was torn apart because it was the only way to protect Mikal. It was agonising to see these two boys, forced to suffer the consequences of the actions made by adults. The amount of violence and abuse can be rather traumatising, and I find myself gasping and shaking when reading these parts.


I believe that the religion in this story was inspired by certain elements in the teachings of Islam and Christianity, perhaps even including bits of other religion. But I am glad to say that the author wrote it well without disrespecting any of the mentioned religions. The source of power for the Maha royalty's Amok Strength and the fate of Mikal's father were also similar to the story of Samson—who appears in the Old Testament of the Bible—an exceptionally strong hero of the Israelites of the ancient Near East. (More on that here: http://www.mythencyclopedia.com/Pr-Sa/Samson.html)


Amok is a story of questionable faith, unending loyalty and hopeless rebellion in a war, all caused by the greed of someone with huge power. The writing style is impeccable, and I honestly loved every single part of the story with my whole heart. Although there were a lot of pain, the story was concluded very well. If you enjoy reading fantasy that focuses on the growth of the main character, friendship that are put to test in a terrible condition, powerless princes and changed positions (which is now my favourite trope), then Amok is perfect for you!


Wait, you know what? Whatever your reading preferences is, I am definitely recommending this book to you. This is a book that no one should miss!


Many thanks to the author, Anna Tan, and Teaspoon Publishing for the e-ARC copy in exchange for my honest review. Amok will be released on 24th of June 2021, and you can pre-order a copy now on https://teaspoonpublishing.com.my/shop/amok-paperback/ or https://books2read.com/amok.


I'm going to pre-order a physical copy for myself too after this!



・・・・・・✧・・・・・・✧・・・・・・

Funny how your dreams can come true and you find that they weren't what you truly wanted.


Till next time ♡ Love, Aishah Humaira'


Title: Bell Hammers
Series: -
Author: Lancelot Schaubert
Publisher: -
Genres: Adult Fiction, Humor, Historical
Format: Ebook
Publication Date: October 12th 2020
Pages: 346

Synopsis (Goodreads): Remmy grows up with Beth in Bellhammer, Illinois as oil and coal companies rob the land of everything that made it paradise. Under his Grandad, he learns how to properly prank his neighbors, friends, and foes. Beth tries to fix Remmy by taking him to church. Under his Daddy, Remmy starts the Bell Hammer Construction Company, which depends on contracts from Texarco Oil. And Beth argues with him about how to build a better business. Together, Remmy and Beth start to build a great neighborhood of "merry men" carpenters: a paradise of s'mores, porch furniture, newborn babies, and summer trips to Branson where their boys pop the tops of off the neighborhood's two hundred soda bottles. Their witty banter builds a kind of castle among a growing nostalgia.

Then one of Jim Johnstone's faulty Texarco oil derricks falls down on their house and poisons their neighborhood's well.

Poisoned wells escalate to torched dog houses. Torched dog houses escalate to stolen carpentry tools and cancelled contracts. Cancelled contracts escalate to eminent domain. Sick of the attacks from Texaco Oil on his neighborhood, Remmy assembles his merry men:

"We need the world's greatest prank. One grand glorious jest that'll bloody the nose of that tyrant. Besides, pranks and jokes don't got no consequences, right?"

・・・・・・✧・・・・・・✧・・・・・・

My rating: - / 5 ★

I'm not rating this book as I end up DNF-ing it. (DNF = Do Not Finish)

Bell Hammers is not the kind of book that I often read, so it was no surprise that I end up unable to finish it. It is a little bit of a shame though, because while I quite liked the main character, Remmy, I probably could not get myself familiar with the writing style.

It is not exactly a bad writing style, but it has a touch of country-ish sound to it, and the satyr and sarcasm included in most parts went over my head. A lot of historical parts were mentioned too, and as I am not familiar with the country and place the events took place, I was not able to get them either. There were multiple times where I had to continuously reread the pages or chapters, because I did not understand what was going on.

In terms of the characters, they are quite likeable. The story started when Remmy is a young boy, and reading about him growing up made me able to warm up to him, and I like how respectful he is towards his father and grandfather. He was up to mischief most of the time, but it was fun to read about his pranks. Occasionally, I found myself laughing along to the jokes he made. I enjoyed his banters with Beth too—the girl that used to ignore him and ended up marrying him later.

Overall, I like the characters, but I could not get the story. Although this may not be my cup of tea, if you enjoy reading books with humour and country people, this may be a good book to check out.

Many thanks to the author for sending me a copy of Bell Hammers in exchange for my honest review.


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Till next time ♡ Love, Aishah Humaira'


Title: But for the Mountains
Series: -
Author: Erin Riha
Publisher: REUTS Publications
Genres: Young Adult, Romance
Format: Kindle Edition
Publication Date: June 2nd 2020
Pages: 346

Synopsis (Goodreads): Arden Thatcher wasn’t meant to be chosen.

But when her name is announced, she’s presented with something she never thought she’d have: a future away from her abuser. Shuttled off to attend the prestigious National Women’s Institute, Arden will receive Nordania’s highest honor, studying with other elite candidates to become leaders, diplomats, and ambassadors on the world stage.

Only, the institute’s not quite what she expected. Paraded around in gown after gown, the tests seem less about educating and more about a different competition, with a very specific prize at stake—the Nordanian Prime Minister’s son. Despite the dean’s protestations that angling for an engagement leads to expulsion, Arden sees the truth. There’s a secret bubbling beneath the institute’s refined surface, and those who refuse to play along may well wind up dead.

With the danger escalating, and the return of her abuser on the horizon, Arden’s shiny future becomes a gilded cage. And this time, she’s going to need powerful allies to escape.

Political intrigue, swoon-worthy romance, and a dash of dystopian flare, But for the Mountains begs the question, how do you change the world when you’re not allowed to try?

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My rating: 4 / 5 ★

Trigger Warning: Rape and sexual assault/abuse, violence, physical abuse, mentions of suicide and self-harm, PTSD/panic attacks, alcoholism

But for the Mountains is a literal nightmare, especially for girls. It was confusing at first, but after realising with a horror, even the first page of this book started with the main character, Arden, being sexually assaulted.


Arden Thatcher grew up being sexually abused by the people that gave her a place to live. When she was given a chance to escape and enroll into the National Women’s Institute, she thought that her life would change. Instead, it was like she broke out from a prison, to yet another prison. The whole institute was simply a ploy for the Prime Minister's son to find a partner—and the rest of the girls will either be returned to their family or benefactor, or sent to a neighbouring country to feed the politicians' desires. Despite Arden's efforts to change the fate of the girls—and her own, changing something that was already ingrained in the society was a lot harder than anyone could ever think about.


This is a story about a survivor, a girl who had to suffer simply because she was born a girl. I love Arden's fierce character and her smart wits; although she was never prepared to be enrolled into the institute by her benefactor, she was clever enough to find matters that can help to her advantage. She was able to climb to the top spot on her own. I also love the no-nonsense side of her. When she realised the actual meaning of the whole institute, she despised the idea and rejected the Prime Minister's son's approach. She was independent, and with the way how she focused only on trying to bend the rules so that girls are allowed better lives, I believe that she had great leadership qualities.


Although I wish the story did not have a lot of focus on the romance, but I still do appreciate both of the male love interests. Declan, son of the Prime Minister, sounded sketchy at first and I had a hard time trusting him; he seemed too good to be true. But then his flaws were revealed, and though he was not a bad guy, his privilege as a Prime Minister's son also meant that he did not know most of the horrific things going on in the society. As for Beck, he might seem gruff and had a lot of hatred against everyone, but he understood Arden easily and did not hesitate to be there for her. Both characters are good male characters with realistic flaws.


The storyline was gripping, and as much as I loved it, I was also appalled by all the horrifying matters that Arden had to suffer. It had a rather open-ending, which I think could mean the author wanted readers to make their own conclusions, or perhaps giving room to a possible sequel. But for the Mountains was not an easy read, but an important one. It highlights the inequality when it comes to the treatment given between men and women, which still happens until this very moment. I hate that certain men still viewed women and girls as sexual objects and nothing more. This is just a proof that this book somehow portrays the bitter truth of this world.


I would love to recommend everyone to read But for the Mountains, especially if you love female characters that tries their best to survive their harsh fate, even if they have to overcome their fears. But please do note about the trigger warnings first.


Many thanks to Netgalley and REUTS Publications for this book in exchange for my honest review.


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"I'm a survivor." The words come from a voice I'm not familiar with, from a girl I've never met, who's been quiet far too long. But I believe them—I believe her.


Till next time ♡ Love, Aishah Humaira'

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