Review: The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea

Review: The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea

Rating: 4 out of 5.

*I received a copy from the publisher via Netgalley in return for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.*

Storms have ruined Mina’s homeland for generations. Her people believe that once the Sea God has found his true bride, he will end his people’s suffering. Shim Cheong is fated to be the true bride, but doing so means leaving Mina’s brother forever. So on the night, Cheong must be sacrificed, Mina and her brother break the rules and follow her to her fate. Desperate to save her brother and her friend, she throws herself into the water instead. Stranded in the Spirit Realm, Mina finds the Sea God trapped in an endless sleep and to wake him; she must face every lesser god and beast who wishes to keep him asleep.

I’ll be honest; the story starts in not the strongest footing for my taste. Mina is already boarding the ship destined for Shim Cheong’s demise, and her sacrifice is made so quickly it feels like we almost miss the moment. Her descent into the spirit realm is fast, and in moments, we’ve already made it halfway through the book’s own synopsis. I have been highly anticipating this book, so I was apprehensive it would go downhill from there. 

I can gladly say I was very wrong. Once in the Spirit Realm, Mina really takes off. With time ticking, she must figure out how to wake the Sea God and return her homeland to prosperity only a month before she is stuck forever. And the only person who can give her any information is the mysterious god named Shin and his rogue men, Kirin and Namgi. She is also momentarily accompanied by other spirits who you will love and mourn all the same. 

The crumbs Axie Oh drops in the story slowly come together in the most heartbreaking way. The world-building is in the same vein as Ghibli movies, whimsical and childlike. Mina is strong and compassionate who continues to grow in each chapter. It’s kind of a shame this is standalone because the potential to delve into other folklore through the Spirit Realm is vast. If anything, the only remotely disappointing aspect was that the romance could’ve been developed a lot more in the beginning. Still, towards the end, I was rooting for Mina’s happiness like my life depended on it. 

Spirited Away meets Korean folklore in this standout retelling from Axie Oh. A world of gods and beasts can’t compare to softspoken Mina, who steals the show in her honourable journey to save her homeland.  


GOODREADS | AMAZON | AUTHOR

Review: Of Trust & Heart

Review: Of Trust & Heart

Rating: 2 out of 5.

*I received a copy from the publisher via Netgalley in return for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.*

As the daughter of an Earl and fast approaching her 25th birthday, Lady Harriet Cunningham finds herself in a New York speakeasy when she should be finding a husband. That is until she sets sights on Rosalie Smith, a beautiful woman with a voice that blew her away. And now, she must decide between expectations or her growing feelings for Rosalie without ruining her family name. 

Of Trust & Heart was highly disappointing. I personally found it boring, which hurts me to say considering I have enjoyed the author’s previous works a lot. Concept-wise, this story had a lot of potential to be a passionate and emotional tale, but its execution left it feeling messing and underwhelming. 

Lady Harriet is sent to New York by her family in order to find a husband, despite knowing that Harriet is a lesbian. Aware of her predicament, Harriet finds solace in her cousin Charlie, a closeted gay man. Together, they bond over their inability to feel comfortable in their surroundings truly. Here, Charlie invites Harriet to a speakeasy hidden within a bookstore. One last night she promised herself before finding a man to settle down with. And when she meets singer Rosalie, her plans fall apart. 

The main reason why I couldn’t really invest myself into the romance is that there’s nothing there to really root for. Harriet and Rosalie exchange mere words, Rosalie writes a song about her and then we are told how utterly in love Harriet is. I was expecting more from the two, interactions, inner thoughts, development, anything! Harriet spent more time with her suitors than she did with Rosalie. Everything was extremely flat, and the story failed to rise to the tension and conflict occurring within the story. The people, the locations and actions felt so impersonal and empty. 
Despite my negativity, it was a quick read and somewhat fun to read, Hamilton clearly writes well, but I don’t consider this a great showcase of her writing. (I would recommend her Until Lambs Become Lions series) The ending is somewhat awkward, which I wouldn’t have minded if there weren’t clearly other ways of fixing their problems. With a prohibition-era backdrop, there is genuine potential for this story and that I just think it doesn’t reach its fullest potential.     


GOODREADS | AMAZON | AUTHOR

YEAR IN REWIND: 2021

YEAR IN REWIND: 2021

Hello! Another year, another rewind. Don’t expect anything spectacular. I think 2021 might be my worst reading AND blogging year yet. One of my biggest goals for this year was to go back to blogging regularly and to find a full-time job. Sadly, I failed on both of these goals. Job searching and still working at my part-time restaurant job really made moving on really difficult and I feel like this entire year was just wasted. I am determined to make 2022 a better year, both for the blog and my own life. While I didn’t read as much, I did manage to find some new favourites this year.

L I F E 

As I mentioned, this entire year was mainly working at my restaurant job while also searching for a full-time job. We were still in lockdown at the beginning of 2021 so there was not a lot going on at the moment for me. One shining moment was I was able to take my graduation photo! My university wasn’t the greatest at communication so we never really understood whether we were going to get a ceremony or photos. We did get online graduation which was just as awkward as you’d expect. And I managed to get my photos taken during the summer! 

Sorry for the bad quality lol

I struggled a lot to read this year. Not having that certainty of a full-time job made it really difficult to balance my time since working in a restaurant during a pandemic is very, very stressful (and tiring). I used to really enjoy being a waitress but after this year, I don’t see myself returning to working in food/retail once I’ve moved on from this role. I know I sound all doom and gloom, but the thing I am proud of is that I’ve returned to drawing! I used to draw a lot when I was a teenager, but I didn’t really enjoy using a graphics tablet. We used to have a hand-me-down but after getting an iPad in March, it made me realise that I prefer drawing directly to the screen. 

If you follow me on Twitter, you would know during this year, I started playing Genshin Impact. It is an action RPG gatcha game where you follow a traveller who is searching for their sibling in the fantasy world of Teyvat. My friend from work had been pushing me to play since last year and I finally managed to get my clunky laptop to run the game. I was immediately hooked. The story, the art and the music (listen to the ost now!!!) blew me away. I’ve played a few mobile gatcha games growing up but I never really committed to games, unlike Genshin. I was sure I was going to be a free-to-play player but I was introduced to a red-headed character called Diluc and I could slowly feel my money slipping away from me. 

If I had to look back on my year, Genshin and drawing are two things that took the spotlight. Both were a great source of comfort for me in what was a pretty terrible year overall. Here are some of my artwork from this year. (yes they are mainly Genshin Impact fanart shhhh … let me live in my brain rot)

Continue reading “YEAR IN REWIND: 2021”

Review: The Boy with Fire

Review: The Boy with Fire

Rating: 3 out of 5.

*I received a copy from the publisher via Netgalley in return for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.*

In a world teetering on the edge of war, one man’s hunger for power might just doom them all. Yassen Knight was once a notorious assassin, now he’s on the run and his only ticket to freedom is defending the princess of Ravence. Elena is counting down the days she ascends the throne, but her inability to hold Fire threatens her crown. Leo isn’t ready to give the crown up yet, not when a looming prophecy threatens everything he holds dear. As the clock ticks till the coronation, the people of Ravence must prepare for change or fear seeing the land burn. 

What stood out about this book for me was the writing. I think Verma is a phenomenal writer. I really enjoyed how she writes, it’s rich and filled with details that make the world of Sayon come to life. She writes quite smoothly in a way that seems very experienced. There are too many good quotes from this book. I’m sure my Kindle copy is more highlights than plain lines. 

However, when I finished this book, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed. The world-building is well done, and I enjoyed the universe Verma has formed. But I couldn’t seem to place where my disappointment lay, but I think, in the end, the characters themselves didn’t live up to the world they resided in. I feel like we really only got to understand the characters at a surface level.

Elena and Leo were interesting, and I liked the parallel between father and daughter as Leo struggles to make sure Elena will inherit a world worth fighting for, but fails to understand what is really best for his land. Yassen is introduced strong and I was prepared to adore him, but again there really isn’t any significant action aside from Leo’s chapters so much of the book is rather slow. It’s a constant cycle of being reminded that Elena can’t control her fire ability and Yassen is a former traitor. The book is advertised as “enemies to lovers,” but the energy between Elena and Yassen isn’t there. Elena is engaged in an arranged marriage between Samson, a friend of Yassen, and it feels like they had better chemistry. 

It’s been some time since I finished this book, and I still can’t figure out where I stand with it. Conceptually, its plot and characters should appeal to me but reading this book felt like a drag. Pitched as Dune meets The Poppy War, The Boy with Fire struggles to light a flame to its comp mates. The potential is there, and for another reader, it will be perfect, but the story barely made a mark for me.


GOODREADS | AMAZON | AUTHOR

Review: How We Fall Apart

Review: How We Fall Apart

Rating: 1 out of 5.

*I received a copy from the publisher via Netgalley in return for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.*

When top-ranking student Jamie Ruan is found dead, her former friends are shocked to the core. This is even more so when the blame is placed on them via their school’s social media app. The so-called Proctor anonymously incriminates them as they slowly reveal the secrets of students Nancy, Krystal, Akil and Alexander, who were all once Jamie’s closest friends. Jamie knew all their secrets, and now The Proctor does too. And they must figure out the truth because it all falls apart. 

The story begins with Nancy presenting to her school; when Jamie fails to make it, she thinks nothing of her ex-friend’s no show. Having abandoned the friendship months before in light of her father’s scandal, Nancy finally thinks she can take the spot that Jamie once held over her. 

That is until a threatening message to Jamie appears on the board, which triggers the beginning of the end for them all. Jamie is dead, and the finger is pointing at Jamie’s old friends. Nancy, a scholarship kid, practically grew up in the shadow of Jamie. Krystal and Akil are born from money, but they can’t hide their secrets. While Alexander is another scholarship student whose brother’s expulsion years ago haunts him to this day. Each has a secret Jamie knew, and now the Proctor is revealing them one by one, damning them all to expulsion and throwing them to the wolves. 

The story, in concept, is rather intriguing. Think Pretty Little Liars meets Gossip Girl. A group of kids work together to figure out who is behind the messages before their reputation is ruined. But the story is extremely rushed, and the lack of development in any of the characters will leave you feeling sorely disappointed. Slowly, the secrets of each of the main protagonists are revealed. The consequences of their actions are rushed, and you don’t get to feel the impact of everything that happens. Something drastic happens, and the story moves on without ruminating on its effect. 

The story also has a bad habit of withholding information in a poorly executed way. There was little originality in this tale, and the so-called finale was like the final nail in the coffin for me. A good mystery will immerse the reader and propel them further, so when the identity is revealed, it should be a shock and make sense to the reader. The ending didn’t make sense, the culprit felt like it was plucked out of nowhere, and now that I’ve had time to think about it, it was pretty hilarious how ridiculous this entire book was.

When I slowly began to realise the plot wasn’t working for me, I was somewhat holding onto the characters, hoping they would carry the story on, but it felt like I was reading a story that wasn’t quite complete. It doesn’t read like a draft, but it doesn’t feel like a polished story. Nancy made sense, plot-wise, to be the main protagonist, but she was the most insufferable in this story. I felt for her initially, growing up in a low-income family, feeling like you need to make your family proud, despite the obstacles in front of you. But she is rather cruel, thinking she’s above the rich kids like Jamie, without realising she’s a terrible person as well. Each character felt archetypal, almost like figurines of what the authors wanted them to stand for, but they don’t have a distinct voice, nor do they feel compelling enough to feel engaged in their journey. 

Overall, How We Fall Apart promises a lot but fails to play the part. I’ve been disappointed a lot reading books that I’ve personally been hyped to read, but How We Fall Apart is one of those reads that it pains me to say that I would not recommend this book to anyone. While having a promising concept, this release fails to capture the rush of a thriller nor the essence of dark academia. Everything you are promised is deflated and, honestly, relatively lacklustre. 


GOODREADS | AMAZON | AUTHOR

Review: Jade Fire Gold

Review: Jade Fire Gold

Rating: 4 out of 5.

*I received a copy from the publisher via Netgalley in return for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.*

Ahn is a village girl with no family and a secret that will break the world. Altan is a lost heir of a dangerous empire. When their paths cross, Ahn finds a key to her past, and Altan sees a way to his future. But when the price of magic is far deadlier than both of them can handle, can they survive when their homeland is on the edge of destruction?

Jade Fire Gold was exhilarating. June C.L. Tan has really hit it out of the ballpark with her debut. I personally went into this book with zero expectations, and I left feeling so satisfied. It has a lot of fun tropes and utilises them in a way that is entertaining and hilarious. But it also keeps to its dark roots and the danger that Ahn and Altan face in their journey. 

The narrative is split into two POVs, Ahn and Altan. With Ahn, you follow her journey being a simple village girl, hiding her abilities in a dead-end town, working to afford the medication her grandmother so desperately needs. Suddenly, she is thrust into the life of royalty, her powers gaining the attention of even the Crown Prince. Altan was the heir to the throne until his family were murdered; now, he has spent years trying to get revenge. He never would’ve expected the answer to be found in Ahn, and the closer they get, the harder he finds it to go through with his plans. I had so much fun reading Ahn and Altan’s journey. Tan does a great job differentiating their voices where I couldn’t even decide whose perspective I enjoyed more. 

Not only did I love our main protagonists, but even the supporting characters were also unforgettable. Tang Wei is Atlan’s closest confidant and skilled with her weapons. Their banter and not-so seriously rivalry were brilliant. Linxi is a spy planted in the courts and becomes a great source of friendship for Ahn when she desperately needs it. Leiye is Ahn’s mysterious saviour and Altan’s old friend. There is so much detail that Tan incorporates so well into her words. A beautiful world inspired by Chinese mythology, from deserts to mountains, villages to palaces, the expanse from just this novel alone makes me really excited to see how the series will continue 

Jade Fire Gold was an absolute gem of a read! Sometimes you just need a good book to enjoy, and this is one of them. The banter, plot and sense of adventure left me unable to put this down—a definite recommendation for anyone interesting in the xianxia genre. 


GOODREADS | AMAZON | AUTHOR