Title: Ever Cursed
Series: -
Author: Corey Ann Haydu
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Format: Paperback
Expected Publication Date: July 28th 2020
Pages: 304

Synopsis (Goodreads): The Princesses of Ever are beloved by the kingdom and their father, the King. They are cherished, admired. 

Cursed. 

Jane, Alice, Nora, Grace, and Eden carry the burden of being punished for a crime they did not commit, or even know about. They are each cursed to be Without one essential thing—the ability to eat, sleep, love, remember, or hope. And their mother, the Queen, is imprisoned, frozen in time in an unbreakable glass box. 

But when Eden’s curse sets in on her thirteenth birthday, the princesses are given the opportunity to break the curse, preventing it from becoming a True Spell and dooming the princesses for life. To do this, they must confront the one who cast the spell—Reagan, a young witch who might not be the villain they thought—as well as the wickedness plaguing their own kingdom…and family. 

Told through the eyes of Reagan and Jane—the witch and the bewitched—this insightful twist of a fairy tale explores power in a patriarchal kingdom not unlike our own.

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My rating: 5 / 5 ★

Ever Cursed is a story about princesses being cursed by a witch, and how they went through all sort of odds to undo it. Sounds like your typical childhood fairy tale, doesn't it? Well, maybe think again.

The story is told from two perspectives—Jane, the eldest princess and Reagan, the witch who cursed the princesses. When I first decided to read this book, I had thought that Reagan would be a much older witch to want to curse the royals with something that big. But she was the same age as Princess Jane; she was barely thirteen when she cast the curse to the Queen and princesses. It made me wonder just how terrible the reason behind her anger was, because unlike most other fairy tales where witches do not receive any consequences after performing any spells, the witches from Ever Cursed gain a skirt for each spell they cast. 

It sounded funny to me at first, because seriously? Skirts? But when I really considered it, it was actually a brilliant point of the story. A great spell should come with a great price in order for witches to not simply curse everything in front of their way. The heaviness and quality of the skirts depended on how heavy a spell is, and the greater the spell, the more it will weigh down a witch. Despite knowing she would be weighed down permanently by that, Reagan still cursed the princesses.

The reason behind Reagan's anger to the royals was truly horrible, and it was understandable why she cast the curse even if it was directed in the wrong way. I'm glad the author included the trigger warning at the first part of the book, because the topic is a very sensitive one and possibly not suitable with everyone. Just in case, although there was nothing graphic about it, I'll just mention here that it involves the topic of sexual assault. I don't think I've seen much of this topic being discussed in fantasy young adult novels (or perhaps I don't read as much), so it was quite an eye-opener for me.

Reagan did not gain much support from other witches after the curse, but I'm thankful her sweet cousin, Willa, and best friend, Abbott, were there for her even when they did not share the same views. Before I knew the reason of the curse, I had no idea what to feel about Reagan. From what the witches around her claimed, she seemed to be selfish for casting the spell without considering the others' opinions about it. But it was obvious that she only wanted the best for her loved ones, and when she realised her mistake, she worked hard to help the princesses overcome the curse. She's compassionate and bold, willing to go out of her to make things right for everyone.

As for Princess Jane, I think she's a strong character even from the start. It takes a lot of strength to continue pretending to be fine when you "lose" your mother and is cursed with your siblings in a blink of an eye. It takes a lot of strength to continue pretending to be fine when princes and princesses from other kingdoms want you to stay being spellbound and fragile for their own disgusting desires. And it takes a lot of strength to be fine when you learn that the real villain is someone that you cared for your entire life. Princess Jane is a strong woman, and despite doubting her qualities to become a queen, she still managed to overcome the hurdles like a true queen.

The alternating point of views between Reagan and Jane provided a lot of insight on the world building, and I think it allows the plot to move smoothly. I'm saying that Ever Cursed is a feminist fairy tale like no other is because it's a story that portrays girls that can be strong and independent; girls that are brave enough to fight for the right thing; girls that support each other; girls that survive. This is not a story to bring down boys or men, because even if the perpetrator might be a male, that does not cancel the fact that there are girls or women that condone the disgusting behaviours. This can be seen by the behaviours of the princes and princesses of other kingdoms towards Jane and her sisters. I appreciate that the author did not make it into a gender role issue, because men can be feminists as well if they protect women. In here, Abbott's character is the perfect example of it.

Overall, I would say that there's a lot to unpack from Ever Cursed. It's a story of a lot of things; of witches, princesses, family and siblings' love, surviving, lies, painful truths, growth, acceptance; of so much more. This review of mine is a mess, but all I could say is that this book is wonderful and I loved the way everything was laid out. I'm thankful with the way the story is concluded because after everything, these girls and women deserve only good things from the world.

I would like to thank Pansing for sending me a copy of this book in exchange of an honest review. Ever Cursed is expected to be released this July 2020, so don't miss it!

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He'll see. I'll show him what it means to fight for your life.



Till next time ♡ Love, Aishah Humaira'


"Arise from the ashes like a Phoenix. Stronger and blinding. Duality Box's Rebirth is to bring you along the journey of becoming a better and powerful person that you are." — Duality Box, 2019.

The last time I made an unboxing post on a Duality Box's book box was almost two years ago! This is also not exactly an unboxing of a new box either, but more to a throwback of their last box from August 2019. I've had this post planned since back then, but things happened, and I decided to post it now as a welcoming gift to Sufina, one of DB's founders, for finally starting her own bookstagram account! Check out Sufina's account, @thebadassreader πŸ’–

Although I would say that their Dangerously Alive box will always be my favourite, it wouldn't change the fact that this Rebirth box owns a special place in my heart as well. And that's because I myself participated in designing one of the merchandise in this box! Continue reading along to see which one is designed by yours truly ✨


Here's a close up of the theme art for Rebirth box πŸ”₯ I love how vibrant the colours of the flames are, and despite looking demure, the flame girl still depicts a strong vibe. I'm absolutely positive she would not hesitate to burn anyone's ass for messing up with her πŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯

— Theme art designed by @rizalazizart

1. Exclusive Pencil Case (Warcross)


(Rainbow haired and sleeve tattoos? We can only dream to be as cool as Emika Chen but at least we have this badass pencil case exclusively designed by @kdpletters inspired by Emika Chen herself!)

This has been the second time Warcross inspired merch become part of a Duality Box box—which means that I really should clear my TBR list soon and grab Warcross! This design by @kdpletters is really gorgeous, definitely able to showcase that you're having badass thoughts 24/7 (҂◡̀_◡́)α•€

2. Exclusive Coaster (The Cruel Prince)


(To dine with royalty, we must first live like royalty. By using this exclusive coaster designed by Aishah @mermaird with powerful quote from The Cruel Prince, you're one step closer to the palace's dining table.)

And here we are: the merchandise that's designed by yours truly °˖✧◝(⁰▿⁰)◜✧˖°  I was honoured that Sufina trusted my skills enough to commission me for a coaster made out of cloth. I have to admit that I was nervous when I accepted the offer, because I have yet to read The Cruel Prince series until today! I know the quote came from The Wicked King, the second book of the series, but this design was inspired mostly by the cover of The Cruel Prince instead. I didn't want to use white as the main background since it'll be easier to look dirty, so I changed it to black instead. I can proudly say that orange-y golden looked gorgeous with black in this one (▰˘v˘▰)

It was a very exciting experience designing this one; I'm looking forward to collaborating with Duality Box again in the future! ♡

3. Exclusive 2oz Candle (The Hunger Games)


(Who's excited for The Hunger Games prequel?! Get ready to head back to Panem with this exclusive lavender scented candle from @candlenutsbynadia!)

The soft purple colour of this candle is very pretty, and I can't get enough of the sweet and soothing lavender scent!

4. Exclusive Collectible Bookmark


(Bookmarks are a bookworm essential and we are so excited to introduce our new collectible item, theme art bookmarks! Starting with this beautiful artwork by @rizalazizart.)

Bookmarks are always part of the merchandise in Duality Box boxes, and this time it features the gorgeous theme art of the month! πŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯

5. Bookish Enamel Pin


(Your wish is our command! We decided to include an enamel pin in our comeback as it seems to be a Dualities' favourite item as a mini thank you for the overwhelming support you've shown us!)

As an enamel pin collector, nothing makes me happier than this adorable reading hedgehog enamel pin being included in this box 。:.οΎŸγƒ½(´∀`。)οΎ‰οΎŸ.:。+゚ "Just one more page"; well, isn't that what all readers say even when it's already 4AM in the morning? 

6. The Storm Crow by Kalyn Josephson


(We are thrilled to feature another debut novel for our comeback box including a signed bookplate and an author's letter exclusively for Dualities!)

The featured book in Rebirth box is The Storm Crow by Kalyn Josephon. Here's the blurb from Goodreads:

In the tropical kingdom of Rhodaire, magical, elemental Crows are part of every aspect of life...until the Illucian empire invades, destroying everything.
 
That terrible night has thrown Princess Anthia into a deep depression. Her sister Caliza is busy running the kingdom after their mother's death, but all Thia can do is think of all she has lost.
 
But when Caliza is forced to agree to a marriage between Thia and the crown prince of Illucia, Thia is finally spurred into action. And after stumbling upon a hidden Crow egg in the rubble of a rookery, she and her sister devise a dangerous plan to hatch the egg in secret and get back what was taken from them.

I haven't had the opportunity to read this one yet because of my ever-growing  TBR list and also... other "priorities", but I'm excited to pick up this book soon! It has such a beautiful cover, and the premise of the story seems promising as well. I'm almost sure that I'll end up loving it (。>Ο‰<)。The sequel to this book, The Crow Rider, is expected to be release this upcoming July.

7. Exclusive Book Discussion Invitation from Untitled Book Club


(You are officially invited to the @untitledbc book discussion of The Storm Crow! We are so excited to be collaborating with them and we can't wait to read the book together in September!)

In case you're unaware, I'm part of Untitled Book Club's team and we always have a segment for Book of the Month on our social medias! After each month passed, there will be a book discussion on Goodreads. This was the first time Duality Box collaborated with The Storm Crow and I'd say it went very well—even if I didn't actually join it since I haven't read the book

And there we go; a throwback to the last box from Duality Box just so that my lovely Sufina can relieve that things that she made possible with her sister γƒΎ(・∀・`*)οΎ‰☆ I do hope that Duality Box will be making their comeback real soon! Much love to them πŸ’–

Duality Box page: Instagram
Untitled Book Club page: Instagram | Twitter

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Till next time ♡ Love, Aishah Humaira'


Previous boxes:



Tajuk: Topeng
Siri: -
Pengarang: Bali Baim
Penerbit: Buku Fixi
Genre: Thriller, Horror
Format: E-book
Tarikh Terbitan: 27 April 2018
Mukasurat: 379

Sinopsis (Goodreads): Apa rasanya memakai topeng di hadapan manusia? Tersenyum masa marah, ketawa masa hati kelam. Aku dibuang sejak bayi dan hidup meringkuk dalam memori demi memori yang memberi kesan mendalam pada jiwaku, wajahku, kerana topengku kini berlapis-lapis. 

Aku hanya mahu satu, mak aku. Dan Bomoh Kisman perkenankannya dengan satu syarat: untuk aku tinggal di sebuah rumah yang mengandungi bilik-bilik rahsia, yang melambangkan topeng-topeng paling berat aku pakai.

Mampukah aku hadapi memori paling hodoh dalam lipatan sejarah hidupku? Berhadapan topeng-topeng muka yang memberi derita?

Aku akan hadapi semua memori jijikku. Dan selamat datang dunia kegelapan topeng.

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Rating: 3 / 5 ★

Disebabkan aku dah lama tak baca apa-apa buku dalam bahasa Melayu, lepas habis baca Topeng, aku jadi teringin nak tulis ulasan buku dalam bahasa Melayu. Aku boleh jamin cara penulisan aku akan berbunyi agak janggal sebab aku dah lama tak menulis esei panjang dalam bahasa Melayu (kecuali atas keterpaksaan beberapa subjek berbahasa Melayu di universiti), tapi harapnya berjayalah aku habiskan ulasan buku untuk Topeng ini tanpa menggunakan sepatah perkataan dalam bahasa Inggeris langsung ✨

Baiklah, Topeng merupakan sebuah kisah mengenai Hasnan yang menjalani kehidupannya secara ber"topeng". Topeng di sini bukanlah bermaksud topeng secara zahir, tetapi topeng yang menggambarkan lapisan kepura-puraan yang ditunjukkan pada orang sekeliling. Hasnan berpura-pura dalam berkeadaan baik di hadapan semua orang supaya tiada yang boleh ketahui tentang kisah silamnya.

Hasnan kehilangan maknya sejak kecil, dan insan itulah satu-satunya insan yang Hasnan mahukan dalam hidupnya. Atas alasan rindukan maknya jugalah, Hasnan nodai ramai gadis kerana hendak mencari "kasih sayang" yang dia kekurangan daripada seorang wanita, walaupun dia sendiri sedar itu bukanlah jalan yang terbaik. Sampai satu tahap, terdesak hendak mencari maknya, Hasnan menggunakan khidmat Bomoh Kisman. Syaratnya dia perlu tinggal di sebuah rumah yang ada bilik rahsia, dan disinilah segala kisah silam Hasnan terbongkar.

Awal sekali aku baca sinopsis buku Topeng ni, aku rasa sangat tertarik akan plot dia. Dan boleh aku katakan memang secara keseluruhan, idea disebalik cerita Topeng ini sangat bagus dan banyak yang boleh dipelajari melaluinya. Cuma, aku rasakan jalan penceritaannya tidak berapa baik. Cara penulisan pengarang agak bersepah, sebab terlalu banyak situasi imbas kembali yang tidak disusun secara baik sampai tahap aku keliru nak memahami jalan penceritaan. Aku rasa sekiranya penulis meletakkan tarikh atau sekurang-kurangnya umur Hasnan dalam setiap situasi, mungkin pembacaan boleh jadi lebih lancar.

Walaupun aku tidak bersetuju dengan cara kehidupan Hasnan yang kerap tidur bersama perempuan-perempuan, aku hargai sisi Hasnan yang tahu akan dirinya seorang pendosa dan dia masih cuba sedaya upaya untuk menjadi seseorang yang lebih baik. Bagi aku, ini membuatkan watak Hasnan lebih realistik, sebab aku boleh nampak pergelutan dia sebagai seorang hamba Allah. Aku juga kagum kerana walaupun bermacam-macam dugaan yang Hasnan tempuhi, dia masih sanggup bergelut dengan kehidupan dan hendak mencari maknya tanpa putus asa.

Watak lain seperti Fairuz dan Kak Dois pun sedikit sebanyak membantu menjadikan Topeng cerita yang lagi menarik. Kadang-kadang aku rasakan Fairuz ni watak yang agak menjengkelkan sebab dia terlalu nak berkepit dengan Hasnan sentiasa, tapi ada juga gunanya kewujudan Fairuz di sisi Hasnan. Dari awal aku rasakan Fairuz ni bukan seorang kawan yang "biasa-biasa" saja dan mereka berkawan mesti sebab kisah silam Hasnan. Pada penghujung cerita memang betul tekaan aku tentang Fairuz ni. Cuma aku tak tersangka dengan cara bagaimana persahabatan Hasnan dan Fairuz ni bermula.

Secara keseluruhan, Topeng merupakan sebuah cerita yang menarik, lengkap dengan elemen misteri dan seram. Aku puas dengan cara cerita ni berakhir sebab boleh katakan yang aku tak sangka cerita ni akan berakhir sebegitu. Aku cuma tak berapa gemar dengan cara penulisan yang agak berterabur dan juga satu lagi, siapa sebenarnya Bomoh Kisman dan macam mana dia dapat bantu Hasnan cari maknya? Persoalan ni sampai ke akhir tak terjawab, jadi aku anggap memang Bomoh Kisman gunakan cara yang bomoh-bomoh suka lakukanlah.

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Hanya sebab Dia tak beri beri kehendak kau sampai kau nak protes? Kau ingat kau siapa? Tuhan kepada Tuhan?



Hingga berjumpa lagi ♡ Tulus ikhlas, Aishah Humaira'


Title: The Moon Hunters
Series: -
Author: Anya Pavelle
Publisher: Chandra Press
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Ebook
Publication Date: September 3rd 2019
Pages: 399

Synopsis (Goodreads): The Pestilence sweeps the globe with terrifying speed. A group of survivors finds an island sanctuary.

Three generations later, no one has heard from the outside world in years. The old radio only crackles with static. The Pestilence either finished its job or the world tore itself apart.

In the Village of Lehom, Leilani has been called to court as a Virtue by the King. Going to court means losing her independence and self-respect. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have a choice.

Leilani decides to take a stand; the King be damned. She plans a daring escape and sets in motion a series of events that will shake the foundation of her village and the island to its core.

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My rating: 4 / 5 ★

Born on an island secluded from the rest of the post-apocalyptic world, Leilani Ani was raised in a village where sexism and discrimination against women were something normalised intensely. Women in the village of Lehom were groomed to be objects of beauty and desire; they were asked to be alluring, but alluring only for the sake of men and not of their own accordance.

Everyone worshipped their King, but when Leilani was forced to lose her job that she loved dearly and become a Virtue at the palace, she soon learned how horrifying the true intentions of the King were. Risking losing more in her life, she planned an escape, yet escaping her grave fate was not as easy as she thought.

Reading The Moon Hunters was not easy for me; it actually took me almost five months to finish it, making it the longest time I took to finish a book despite it not being a too-thick book. Although the plot was interesting enough for me to keep holding on to this book, perhaps I felt that the build-up of it was too slow. Most of the five months that I took was spent on the first half of the book; my mood pretty much went up and down and it felt very difficult to continue reading it. It could be that the story was written the way that Leilani was retelling her memories that put me off of it a little bit, and the excerpts of The Journal of Samsara Ani on the start of each chapter confused me a lot too at first.

But things definitely took a better turn when Leilani was betrayed by someone she cared for so much. The incident just burned fire within her, and she finally took it upon her to leave everything behind and escape. The second half of the book, I devoured in less than five days. I'm glad I continued on reading this book, because Leilani's character is just the kind of women that I love to read about. Strong-willed, compassionate and independent. Yes, unlike how the people of Lehom believed, women can actually stand on their own without men.

It disgusts me how the men of the village of Lehom thought of women. The King collects a group of women whom they called as Virtues in his court. The Virtues did accompany the Queen most times, but in the end, their main job was actually "sit still and look pretty" for the King to feast upon. Women aren't allowed to do what they wish to, lest it being considered as committing a crime. Women even had to pit against each other in order to gain the favour of the same men who oppressed them. It's horrifying to see how Leilani had to pretend that she fits in the concept of the women that the King wants, while she plans her escape.

It was not easy, and she did receive help from people that care about her including a childhood friend-turned-lover, but it was a huge satisfaction to read that she did not depend wholly on others. She sacrificed so much to leave and find a place where she can be who she wants to be. Where she can be herself. It was not a journey full of smiles, but in the end, it was worth it. Although the way the story is written is not exactly my favourite style—I personally think it would have been better if the plot is linear; that way we won't know if Leilani will be able to survive in the end, adding more suspense to the plot—but I still appreciate how the story was concluded with an open-ended ending, where we can understand that Leilani's journey had only just begun.

The Moon Hunters may be just a fiction story, but the things within it, the discrimination and oppression against women are not fiction at all. A lot of women to this day still struggle to live the way they want to be, and I'm glad that this book exists as another reminder that women can be strong and independent. Women being themselves and respecting other women will make them more beautiful.

Overall, it was a great experience to read The Moon Hunters. I would like to personally thank the author, Anya Pavelle, for sending me the ebook copy, and thank you @BookTasters on Twitter for providing me with the chance to read this book.

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The palace guards could keep me in here, perhaps lock me in my new home, but the King hadn't successfully claimed me. Because I rejected his offer to maintain my truth, I hadn't been crushed like the nightingale, a courtly trifle with no significance, or smothered like the palm tree within a malignant banyan. I was like the Lady, poised to escape at the proper time. I had claimed myself with my truth. And I would one day escape like she did to a place called Coeur. Heart.


Till next time ♡ Love, Aishah Humaira'