Review: Hazel Hill is Gonna Win This One

Review: Hazel Hill is Gonna Win This One

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.*

Hazel Hill keeps her head down and her eyes on the ball. This year’s goal? Win this year’s speech contest, and nothing can bring her down, not even last year’s mistake where she accidentally mispronounced hyperbole. And not even Tyler Harris, who made it his life’s mission to talk Hazel’s ear off about every crush he’s ever had, can distract her. Until he says, Ella Quinn has a crush on her. And suddenly, she’s all that she can focus on, and Hazel discovers that the girls in her school are being harassed, and she finds herself amid a plan to take the harasser down. 

This was a surprisingly fun read. I never thought to pick up Middle-Grade books nowadays. Still, after being enticed by the adorable cover, I did not expect to find myself reading a powerful story about three girls standing up against sexual harassment. There is so much to say about this story that it is hard to put my thoughts into words. After reading this, I felt a sense of happiness, knowing that a book like this will be going into the hands of young kids. When the New York Magazine can publish an article defending a seventeen-year-old boy who was ostracised for showing nudes of his girlfriend at a party as a childish mistake, stories like Hazel Hill will be crucial for the younger audience. Inspired by the author’s own experience as a child, she has perfectly captured the spirit of a young girl navigating school life alone who suddenly finds herself defenceless when her classmate Tyler Harris is revealed to be terrorising most of the girls in the school. All the adults she was told to trust brush off his remarks and begin to pin the blame on the girls for acting in such a way. Hazel Hill discusses sexual harassment in a way that I can see be a great tool for younger audiences to understand the topic without going into too much detail. 

Hazel Hill is Gonna Win This One is a story of empowerment and standing proud. An incredible tale with great bouts of humour that was a pleasure to read. Tackling an experience most girls will sadly face in their lives, this book will, in no doubt, foster discussion in a healthy way.


GOODREADS | AMAZON | AUTHOR

Review: You Will Get Through This Night

Review: You Will Get Through This Night

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Written by Daniel Howell, in conjunction with psychologist Dr. Heather Bolton, comes a guide to understanding the human mind’s mess. Split into three chapters, You Will Get Through This Night takes you from preparing for your most challenging moments to figuring out the small steps and helping you thrive for the days after. 

I will start by saying that I was a massive fan of Daniel Howell growing up. From the ages of 13 to 17, I had a Tumblr blog that initially began as a fan blog for many up-and-coming British Youtubers at the time. (danisnotonfire, amazingphil, charlieissocoollike…. you get the gist.) Does this mean anything for this review? Probably not, except for reminding myself of my cringest teenage moments. 

You Will Get Through This Night tackles several topics, such as dealing with anxiety in different situations or finding motivation in places that once sparked joy. For me, everything Dan had mentioned was, quite frankly, nothing new. Written collaboratively with Dr Bolton, this book leans into the bare building blocks when discussing mental health, which made me realise this book is targeted towards his younger teen audience or people who haven’t thought about their own mental health before. And that felt rather odd, but then again, that might be my fault for expecting more of Dan’s own experiences in this book. It also made me aware of how different I am now than I was over ten years ago when I started watching Dan’s content. For example, his self-deprecating humour is definitely something that past me would’ve enjoyed. Still, now in my mid-twenties, this book feels somewhat outdated, and his humour that works well in a video format doesn’t translate amazingly in a written form. However, I appreciate his decision to work with a psychologist on this, as he can bring forward and discuss ways of dealing with mental health using research that might not otherwise be accessible to everyday people. Most of the advice he gave didn’t apply to me, but that is just the mess that is mental health. But for an audience that might not have thought about it before, this guide might be a perfect gateway for further research. 

I don’t want to be too critical in a way that sounds rude because I still hold him dearly as someone who impacted my early teen years. Knowing his reality during the times when he was quite literally helping my mental health, I still finished this book with the same respect I’ll always have. It’s hard not to be happy for him and how far he’s come from those little youtube videos in his room.  

It is clear how Dan wanted to help his viewers and others, and maybe ten years ago, this would’ve helped me then. But the outdated attempts of relatability with early 2010s humour are not my cup of tea anymore. But I do hope this book finds itself in the hands of someone who needs it. 


GOODREADS | AMAZON | AUTHOR

Review: Life Ceremony

Review: Life Ceremony

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 her first collection of short stories, Sayaka Murata explores society and identity in uncanny yet creative ways. Life Ceremony is a bundle of tales, some humorous, most horror which take on norms and values of society and reinvent them in a peculiar way. Most take in modern-day Japan or an alternate future reality which is up to the reader’s imagination. 

Life Ceremony – the titular story of a woman who witnesses her friend’s life ceremony – a process in which in place of a funeral, the deceased is used to make a meal which is shared amongst the funeral-goers who then go on to partake in procreation as a way to create life out of death. A First-Rate Material – an engaged couple who stand on opposite ends of using deceased bodies in everyday materials such as clothing or furniture. This one was rather fascinating to read in a way I couldn’t really describe. Poochie – Two middle school girls take turns feeding their… strange pet. This one just threw me off completely. One of the shortest ones but definitely gets your attention. 

A strange but wonderful collection of stories. I am very glad I went through this with no expectations as a first-time reader of Murata. I particularly enjoyed her nonconformist way of exploring societal norms. Some stories I prefered over the others but overall, a strong collection, nonetheless.


GOODREADS | AMAZON | AUTHOR

Review: The Name She Gave Me

Review: The Name She Gave Me

Rating: 4 out of 5.

*I received a proof copy from Harper360YA in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.*

When Rynn was born, she was named Scheherazade and that is the only thing she knows about her past. Growing up on a farm in Maine, her relationship with her adoptive family is somewhat fine, her father is kind, but her mother is cold. Now, at age sixteen, she finds out that she has a younger sister and the fracture line that she has grown up on threatens to break when she wants to reunite with her. 

I went into this book with zero expectations. I had requested it from the publisher’s list based on the fact that it was a novel in verse, a story format that I’ve recently wanted to delve into more. And I was floored away about The Name She Gave Me. It was a compassionate tale about a young girl desperate to find some semblance of answers about her past using only her birth name. 

Drawing from her own experience as an adoptee, Culley writes with nuance about family, both born and made. A cast of characters that are equally fleshed out within the format with a straightforward way of writing that really packs a punch. Rynn’s verses highlight an emotional journey from finding her biological half-sister to becoming distant from her adoptive family in her search for finding herself. A few chapters slip into the perspective of her sister, highlighting her own life, separate from her older sister. It was unexpected but I particularly enjoyed seeing how different their line of thought compares especially with their different upbringings. 

A compelling and fascinating tale in verse which delves into the intricate and often heartbreaking truths of what becomes of family and how it can make or break everything. 


GOODREADS | AMAZON | AUTHOR

Monthly Rewind: June 2022

Monthly Rewind: June 2022

A R T

Okay, okay! A very busy month for my iPad. I did a ton of drawing this month, partly because I was procrastinating and putting off re-apply to jobs again. Cannot believe I have three months left on my contract. I am not looking forward to the process again…. 😢 But I did a lot of fun art this month, practising new styles and more (as always..) Genshin Impact fanart!

Heizou is an upcoming Genshin character who I am obsessed with. I adore the way Genshin drops hints in the story about new characters and I knew a detective Anemo user would be my style. I rarely colour my lineart so this was a new experience that I hope to practise more with.

The second picture was inspired by @lgbtanime on twitter! They posted a picture of Namjoon and Loid and I was just inspired to try my own take on the idea, and do something that wasn’t Genshin related for once in my life.

This final picture is probably my favourite work I’ve done so far. Last year, my friend, Sheila, streamed and instead of a no-cam stream, she used a png artwork of herself and I loved the idea so I made my own. This one was a process that started back in December 2021. This is the third version of my PNG self-insert. You can see the design process on twitter! The first two versions were definitely not my best work, but I like that they showed my improvement because this version was a lot better. I designed four outfits, two from Genshin, one from Demon Slayer and the final one is based on a salwar kameez that I wear all the time. I’ve also animated mouth movements so I hope to use these in my own streams one day. (That is if I ever get the courage to start…🤫)

Continue reading “Monthly Rewind: June 2022”

Review: The Dragon’s Promise

Review: The Dragon’s Promise

Rating: 5 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.*

Having survived her fatal curse, Princess Shiori must make good on her promise to her stepmother and return her dragon’s pearl to its rightful owner. But when the journey consists of a time-bending dragon’s den and an island that is the birthplace of demons, Shiori finds herself dealing with matters unheard of. While navigating human politics and its disdain for the magic that runs in her blood, Shiori must also tackle the pearl as its disorderly state threatens to harm those around her. Can she mend all she’s done, or will she sever her threads of fate?

The Dragon’s Promise wastes no time in its pacing, picking up right where the first one has ended. Shiori and her brothers are mourning the death of their stepmother after discovering that her curse was really protecting them all this time. Having spent most of the Six Crimson Cranes traversing her homeland, Shiori must enter the dragon realm and deal with the Dragon King, who is determined to get his claws on the peal at all cost. But her story is far from being over, as she must also make her way to the island of demons, luring the monster Bandur, a familiar enemy from Crimson, who is hellbent on bringing Shiori to her knees. 

The theme of family, both found and birth, runs deep in this duology and is one of its most defining aspects. Shiori grows closer with her brothers, finds love with Takkan and even a great friendship with Seryu, her dragon companion. While Takkan is the definitive love interest, I think I might have been part of a smaller crowd who adored Seryu and Shiori’s connection. Nonetheless, Shiroi and Takkan are downright adorable together. We are introduced briefly to new characters within the Dragon Realm, and in moments like then, I mourned that this story was only a duology because the potential runs deep as the dragon realm. Elang, a cousin of Seryu, to Gen, a trapped magic-user, are a few to name. Characters who come and go but make their marks in the scenes they appear in. As with Crimson, the way Lim weaves Asian mythology into this retelling of The Wild Swans is top-notch. Brilliant characters with beautiful writing all wrapped up into a duology that feels well done. 

The Dragon’s Promise was enchanting and fantastical. The Kingdom of Kiata is vast and memorable. From the harsh winters of Iro to the Forgotten Isles of Lapzur, Lim brings to life an entire continent with glorious detail and special moments. Elizabeth Lim has gained a forever fan from this duology alone. 


GOODREADS | AMAZON | AUTHOR