Title: Brambles
Series: Dauntless Path #0.5
Author: Intisar Khanani
Publisher: -
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Novella, Short Story
Format: Ebook
Publication Date: December 7th 2020
Pages: 40

Synopsis (Goodreads): In the kingdom of Adania, everyone knows what Princess Alyrra did to earn the court's contempt, her mother's disdain, and her brother's hatred.

She betrayed her own.

Yet, the truth hides another story, one of honor and honesty, of a princess gambling her own life for another's. It's a tale of courage and consequences, and a choice that can never be undone.

A short story prequel to her multi-starred fantasy, Thorn, Intisar Khanani's "Brambles" gives Alyrra's account of what really happened all those years ago, and how a few critical days turned her life into a daily fight for survival.


My rating: 5 / 5 ★

Being a huge fan of Thorn, I was over the moon when Intisar Khanani announced the release of BramblesBrambles is the novella prequel to Thorn, and it gives a brief background to how everything started for Princess Alyrra. When reading Thorn, I've always wondered what she did to Valka (a.k.a the antagonist of Thorn) to be loathed so much by her own brother, and the fact that this did not bother her mother at all made it more questionable.

At the start of Brambles, readers are introduced to the young Princess Alyrra. She tries her best to be sweet and proper in front of everyone, especially her brother. Despite being treated harshly by the brother and Valka, and constantly used as an excuse for them to misbehave—the word misbehave are actually mild, compared to what the brother and Valka actually did—yet Alyrra took it all in without much protest. Even the nobles took so little attention to her, considering her as an unimportant person of the royalty. As long as they stayed out of her way and didn't ask for her much, Alyrra was content with her life.

But a certain event caused by Valka's vileness put Alyrra on a tight spot, and she knew she couldn't stay silent any longer. Not after what she knew Valka had caused, and meant to cause. The silent and meek princess finally stood her ground and demanded for the right person to be punished, and despite being right about it, the royalty and nobles considered what she did to be "betraying" her own. I respect Alyrra's mother for being able to keep the throne after the King died because we all know how men always believed that women cannot rule, but the fact that she defended her "allies" instead of trying to understand what her daughter did just didn't sit right with me. I would've expected after what she went through, fighting the men and nobles, it would make her want to protect her daughter more, but apparently she simply prioritised the prince (as her next heir) and politics after all.

It broke my heart to see how Alyrra was treated worse than before, but somehow I'm glad that she did what she did. It actually showed that despite appearing to be submissive, Alyrra has a large potential to rule and command her people fairly. Despite looking meek, her capacity of tolerance against the treatment she received proved that her strength is no match to anyone that wishes harm to her. She also always find something positive to be grateful in every situation, and for that, I love her character so much.

Through Brambles, readers also finally found out how Alyrra first met her dear friend, the wind. This might sound weird if you haven't read Thorn, but trust me, the wind is the best of a friend you can get, and I'm grateful that Alyrra was able to connect with the wind. The wind saved Alyrra in Brambles, and it made its character more significant in Thorn.

I can't wait to reread Thorn soon!

Overall, Brambles is definitely a bittersweet treat for fans of Thorn. You need not to read Thorn first to be able to read Brambles because this novella is good enough on its own, but it would be more meaningful if you read Thorn first. 

A huge thanks to Intisar Khanani for the e-ARC in exchange for my honest review. Brambles is now available in ebook and audiobook, and you can purchase it here.


I'd rather be sweet and useless than sharp and dangerous.

Till next time ♡ Love, Aishah Humaira'


Title: Emergency Contact
Series: -
Author: Mary H.K. Choi
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Genres: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Format: Hardcover
Publication Date: March 27th 2018
Pages: 394

Synopsis (Goodreads): For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.

Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him.

When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.


My rating: 3 / 5 ★

There were many reasons as to why I absolutely wanted to pick up this book: 1) It has the prettiest cover, and it's also pink! 2) The main male character works in a café. I find books with characters who bake or work in bakeries to be very cute. 3) The two main characters are awkward people and they prefer communicating through text messages. Definitely my kind of people! 4) A lot of my bookstagram friends recommended this book to me, and they rated this book with 5 stars.

I wanted so badly to love this book, yet unfortunately, it fell short of my expectations.

I loved the interactions between the two characters, Penny and Sam. As someone who is more comfortable with communicating through text messages, Penny and Sam's interactions are so adorable and funny. They connected so well and it was obvious that they were perfect for each other. Here's an excerpt from the book that I wholly agree with, in regards to communicating through text messages:

“It wasn't a romance; it was too perfect for that. With texts there were only the words and none of the awkwardness. They could get to know each other completely and get comfortable before they had to do anything unnecessarily overwhelming like look at each other's eyeballs with their eyeballs.” ― Mary H.K. Choi, Emergency Contact

But despite rooting for their relationship, I find that I don't really love the characters as their own person. Penny is strong and independent, she can also be a fun person to talk with if you're able to connect with her, but I felt like there was nothing special about her to make me love her character wholly. And while I think Sam is cute, he too, didn't have that unique spark that could make me love him more. This is mostly just my own preference, and I should clarify that there weren't any major flaws in both of them. I don't hate any of them, I just couldn't like them enough.

This book is a rather light read, but it also touched heavier subjects such as anxiety, obsession and sexual assault (it was not graphic and was only mentioned briefly, but if you're uncomfortable reading anything related to sexual assaults, please proceed with care). I believe that I'm not knowledgeable enough in regards of anxiety, so I couldn't say much about this matter, but I personally think it's written well in the story. The obsession part was something that Sam went through, and I'm glad that he managed to overcome it. As for the sexual assault part though, which happened to Penny, I felt that it was dropped too sudden into the story. In no means am I demeaning the struggles of rape victims, because I know it's difficult for rape victims to open up about it. And I am glad that Penny didn't allow it to bring herself down, and she found the courage to talk about it with Sam, but I still felt like it was placed into the story out of nowhere.

Overall, Emergency Contact is a relatively nice read, with adorable text messages in between. Although Penny and Sam were each other's emergency contacts, there weren't really much "emergency" situations in the book as I had imagined. I probably placed too much expectations on this book, and sadly I didn't end up loving it as much as I had hoped to. 

Special thanks to Rae for buddy-reading this with me! You can read her review on this book here.


I want to be with someone I can talk to. I want to be with someone who automatically has a fat folder on me. Someone who feels lucky when I tell them the most unflattering, scary stuff.

Till next time ♡ Love, Aishah Humaira'