My rating: ∞ / 5 ★

Am I Mahan or am I Bayangan? If I am Bayangan, why do I have the Amok Strength? If I am Mahan, what am I doing on the throne of Bayangan?

TW: gruesome deaths, torture, violence

Happy release day to The Tale of the Hostage Prince! 🎉✨✨

If you have been following my reviews, you may know that Amok (read my review here) is one of my favourite reads of 2021, and it is still among the top of my favourite fantasy reads. As much as I loved the main character, Mikal, his best friend, Yosua had been my favourite character from the start. I have wished that we will be getting a POV from him someday, and Miss Anna Tan decides to make my wish come true this year by releasing The Tale of the Hostage Prince!

The Tale of the Hostage Prince takes place two years after Amok. Despite the years passed, Yosua is still unable to adapt to his role as Raja of Bayangan. Despite finally returning to his homeland kingdom, where he should belong, he feels like something is missing. He longs for his best friend, Mikal, and misses Maha even though he was raised as a hostage there. His own people questions his ability to reign, making him doubt himself more. But when his parents are murdered brutally, and his uncle is hell-bent on seeking revenge, Yosua no longer has time to wonder where he truly belongs. If he does not play his role as Raja properly, his own people will betray him and death will claw its way to him soon.

I cannot remember feeling so much rage and pain while reading a book. The Tale of the Hostage Prince literally made me want to scream in agony, my fists clenched tightly and my heart breaking to pieces, because everything that Yosua goes through are too infuriating and painful to bear. Yosua has no men to trust after the death of his parents, and even his closest confidant will betray him at any given time. He does not even have the time to grief his parents when everything starts to crumble down, and Yosua realises that he may truly be alone.

The Tale of the Hostage Prince is a fast-paced story that left me breathless; there was no time to rest as things keep getting worse for Yosua after each page. The violence and torture are rather gruesome, perfect for my taste, even if it leaves a bitter aftertaste when I consider that Yosua does not deserve any of it. His faith is questioned and his efforts seem futile, but someone with a big heart like him never gives up. I love how hard he tries his best, and whenever he feels like giving up, somewhere deep inside him knows that it is not the right thing to do. This is why he will always be my favourite 

I say that you are truer than a friend, closer than a brother. But my path is not your path and neither will yours be mine.

When Yosua finally reunites with Mikal, it feels like a joyous celebration for me, and for them. They grew up together as best friends, as brothers, so being separated has taken its toll, especially on Yosua. I love, love the bond that these two have, and as much as I wish they can be back together like before, that is just not possible. And the way Yosua finally makes peace with this fact is pleasing in its own way. His character growth from a soft and meek boy, lacking in confidence over his worth, to becoming a man proud of his strength and flaws, unafraid to fight and protect his own people. I love that despite his harsh upbringing and the countless betrayals he went through, Yosua retains his softness and is nothing but kind to his people.

I have to say that I absolutely enjoy Anna Tan's writing style. She has a flair with words, and her world is written so vividly, I was able to imagine the scenes playing in my head, down to every detail of it. I fall in love hard with the characters that are good, and loath the villains to the deepest part of my heart. There are many twists and horrors, and despite having an inkling of who had caused the death of Yosua's parents, the truth still left me in shock. I had not expected to love this one more than I love Amok, but having a soft spot for Yosua, I can easily say I definitely love this one a lot more.

All in all, The Tale of the Hostage Prince is a story of a powerless young Raja, betrayals from those who you trust the most, and finding your inner-strength to fight back for what is rightfully yours. There is nothing I do not love about it, hence why I am giving it an infinity of stars as my rating! Many thanks to the author and Teaspoon Publishing for sending me the ARC in exchange for my honest review.

Below are the links where you can order The Tale of the Hostage Prince!

Ebook: [USD4.99 / RM20]

Paperback (Malaysia only): [RM45]


Title: The Tale of the Hostage Prince
Series: Absolution, #1.5
Author: Anna Tan
Publisher: Teaspoon Publishing
Genres: Fantasy, New Adult
Format: Paperback
Publication Date: April 14th 2022
Pages: 328

Synopsis (Goodreads): Yosua wears an uneasy crown. Although he is now Raja of Bayangan, he still longs for the land of his birth where everything was much simpler…and less deadly.

But peace doesn’t come easily, not for a twenty-year-old servant playacting at being king.

With his parents brutally murdered and his uncle bent on revenge, Yosua must decide where his loyalties truly lie. With his only remaining relative and the kingdom he has claimed? Or with his best friend Mikal and the sultanate that raised him as a hostage?


Till next time ♡ Love, Aishah Humaira'

My rating: 4 / 5 ★

Don't grieve for me. I can't go on living this way. I pray every day to escape somehow—if the only way is through death, so be it.

TW: mentions of non-consensual sex & rape, torture, death

I jumped into this book blindly, only wanting to satisfy my craving for a story with Japanese mythical elements in it. And I came out with a potential new favourite series! ✨

Emperor of the Eight Islands is the first book set in The Tale of Shikanoko series by Lian Hearn. It follows a young boy named Kazumaru, whom after being left to die in the woods by his greedy uncle, is taken in by a sorcerer and placed under and initiation against his will. He later becomes the "deer child", and is called Shikanoko. The tale follows Shikanoko as he meets new people, good and bad, all the while wondering what his true purpose in life is.

This book is told in the third person point-of-view, of six different people. Despite this, I find the flow of the story easy to follow, the transition between each character rather smooth. It even helps me as a reader to gauge the world of the book much better. While this book is quite a thin book, there is a large number of characters in it, but fret not as a character list in included at the start of the book. I do suggest skipping the character list unless you need to refresh a character's role, because there are some spoilers in it.

He reflected grimly as he hastened back through the dark street on how children were used as pawns in men's struggles for power. His son, Tsumaru, the Emperor's grandson, Yoshimori, were to be abducted, hidden, murdered, not for any crime of theirs, unless it was from a former life, but because of who their fathers were.

The adults in this book disgusts me. Fueled by their hunger for power and lust, the children becomes their pawns and victims. My favourite characters are mainly the children: Akihime, Hina, Yoshimori, Kai and especially Shikanoko. The way their fates are tied are heartbreaking, and I think it is sad how these children are being forced to mature quickly, or else they will die in between the cruel fights between the adults.

Desire, greed, betrayal and extreme loyalty play large roles as themes of this book. There are a few scenes where the characters are forced to have sex, while being partially conscious. This may sound vile, but these scenes are vital for the plot as lust and desire are part of the dark sorcery being performed. However, non of the sexual scenes (including consensual ones) are graphic and are mostly mentioned in a few sentences, but if you are uncomfortable with these, please be mindful if you want to read this book. As for the torture and death parts, they are also mentioned briefly, but if you have a good enough imagination, it can be rather gruesome.

Overall, Emperor of the Eight Islands is a great introduction to The Tale of Shikanoko's world, and I have plenty of characters that I'm rooting for, and also characters whom I wish to experience the worst pain in their deaths. It is an easy and rather light read, despite the mythical elements in it. If I had not procrastinate, I could easily devour this book in a single sitting! It has a good deal of twists and shocking truths in it, and even though one of the main characters ends up making a terrible mistake in the end, I still enjoyed every bit of this book.

I look forward to continue this series soon. If you love reading stories with dark magic, demons, wars and Japanese mythology and culture, you might like to try picking up this one!


Title: Emperor of the Eight Islands
Series: The Tale of Shikanoko #1
Author: Lian Hearn
Publisher: FSG Originals
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Asian Literature, Japan Literature
Format: Paperback
Publication Date: April 26th 2016
Pages: 251

Synopsis (Goodreads): An ambitious warlord leaves his nephew for dead and seizes his lands.

A stubborn father forces his younger son to surrender his wife to his older brother. 

A mysterious woman seeks five fathers for her children.

A powerful priest meddles in the succession to the Lotus Throne.

These are the threads of an intricate tapestry in which the laws of destiny play out against a backdrop of wild forest, elegant court, and savage battlefield. Set in a mythical medieval Japan inhabited by warriors and assassins, ghosts and guardian spirits, Emperor of the Eight Islands by Lian Hearn is a brilliantly imagined novel, full of drama and intrigue - and it is just the beginning of an enthralling, epic adventure: The Tale of Shikanoko.


Till next time ♡ Love, Aishah Humaira'

My rating: 5 / 5 ★

I don't have an American half and a Japanese half. I am a whole person. Nobody gets to tell me if I am Japanese enough or too American.

If I were to describe Tokyo Ever After in simple words, I would say that the story is as sweet as cotton candy! It has similar vibes to The Princess Diaries, but instead of an unknown kingdom, the plot takes place in Japan.

Izumi Tanaka has always been curious about her origin, especially regarding the identity of a father that she never knew of. When her mother continues to refuse to talk about it, Izumi decides to find clues of her own... and finds out that her father is actually the Crown Prince of Japan. Soon enough, Izumi finds herself being flown to Japan to discover more about her roots and learn more of the royalty and culture. It is a story of searching for one's true self, family, friendship and forbidden romance.

Oh I adore Izumi Tanaka's character from the first page of the book! I find most of her words and actions to be rather amusing, and I secretly believe that if I know her in real life, I will want to be best friends with her. She is mostly impulsive, but that's her most adoring trait because she leads her life with her heart ♡ It is a big part of the story, and as someone who listens to her heart a lot too, I find myself to be able to relate to Izumi and I find most of her actions to be justifiable.

The earth forgets but I will always remember

Karaoke bars

Pharmacies and cups of tea

And plates of dorayaki

The major reason Tokyo Ever After has a special place in my heart is definitely the swoon-worthy forbidden romance with the handsome yet grumpy bodyguard—the sunshine x grumpy trope is executed perfectly in this book! I enjoyed Izumi and Akio's banter; they mock each other and throw snarky remarks a lot, but it's done so nicely that I find everything to be hilarious. And when they finally fall hard for each other? BOOM. The romance is disgustingly sweet and adorable, I feel like screaming to oblivion (੭ ˃̣̣̥ ω˂̣̣̥)੭ु⁾⁾ The way they touch and kiss each other, the way how gentle Akio becomes during their hushed moments alone, the secret dances, the short but meaningful haiku they write for each other—tell me, how can I not wish to have my own hot grumpy bodyguard to date in secret as well? HOW?

I also love that apart from the romance, the story highlights Izumi's relationship with her family and friends as well. I am glad that the mother-daughter relationship in this one is wonderful, and Izumi respects and loves her mother fiercely. Although her mother kept secrets of her father from her, she tries her best to understand her mother's intentions. I do believe that Izumi's father can be a good father to her too, which readers will probably witness in the sequel, but he does show a lot of effort in here too. A good relationship with parents are rather rare in young adult books, so I really appreciate the author giving two good parents for this book.

As for Izumi's best friends, especially Noora: They are a gem! I enjoyed their moments and conversations so much; the trust and care they have for each other are so touching. It's the kind of friendship that I have always wanted—friends like family 

"I'm still a work in progress."

"Aren't we all?"

Last but not least, I find Izumi's character arc to be a delightful journey to follow. I have mentioned above that I adore Izumi from the start, but it is quite clear that she can be passive at times too. The words “If you don't fly too high, you don't have too far to fall” definitely hit me hard, as I know how it feels to not be good enough when you know you have not tried hard enough. But as Izumi goes through a lot of backlash and hurt, she grows stronger and becomes someone confident about herself. She finally finds her true self, where she does not need to choose between being American or Japanese, because both are parts that make up her.

All in all, Tokyo Ever After has the sweetest forbidden romance, perfect for a feel-good moment and as a light-read. It also has great values of family, friendship and finding a sense of belonging. If you're a fan of The Princess Diaries or To All the Boys I've Loved Before, and other similar stories, please do pick Tokyo Ever After as your next read!

Many thanks to Pansing for sending me this book in exchange for my honest review. Tokyo Ever After is available in all good bookstores, and the sequel is coming out next month, so be ready!


Title: Tokyo Ever After
Series: Tokyo Ever After #1
Author: Emiko Jean
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Genres: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Format: Paperback
Publication Date: May 27th 2021
Pages: 319

Synopsis (Goodreads): Izumi Tanaka has lived an uneventful seventeen years in her small town, keenly aware of all the ways in which her family is different from most of her classmates’. But then Izumi discovers a clue to her previously unknown father’s identity . . . and he’s none other than the Crown Prince of Japan.

Soon she’s traveling overseas to meet the father she never knew and discover the country she's only dreamed of. But being a princess isn’t all ball gowns and tiaras. There are conniving cousins, a hungry press, a scowling but handsome bodyguard who just might be her soulmate, and thousands of years of tradition and customs to learn practically overnight. Izzy soon finds herself caught between worlds, and between versions of herself—back home, she was never “American” enough, and in Japan, she must prove she’s "Japanese" enough. Will Izumi crumble under the weight of the crown, or will she live out her fairytale, happily ever after?


Till next time ♡ Love, Aishah Humaira'