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!

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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'