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 Still, now in my mid-twenties, this book feels somewhat outdated, and his humour that works well in a video format doesn’t translate amazingly in a written form.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. 


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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.


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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. 


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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. 


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Review: Six Crimson Cranes

Review: Six Crimson Cranes

Rating: 4 out of 5.

After losing control of her magic on the morning of her betrothal ceremony, Princess Shiori accidentally catches the attention of her stepmother, Raikama. Magic is forbidden in Kiata, and when Shiori discovers that Raikama has her own, she is banished from her Kingdom, her six brothers turned into cranes, and she is cursed never to utter a word unless she wishes for one of her brothers to die. Voiceless and alone, Shiori must find her brothers, break the curse and discover the truth behind her magic. Or risk losing her kingdom to the battling armies of the neighbouring lands. 

Six Crimson Cranes was fantastic! This one has been sitting in my TBR for a year now; its gorgeous cover enticing to me to pick it up during one of my reading blocks. My god, this was so much fun. Sure, I’ll be honest, the plot was a bit predictable, but in this case, the journey you take to get there makes it all worthwhile. 

The youngest of her family and the only girl amongst her siblings, Shiori is brash and hard-headed. She is led to her betrothal ceremony when her paper bird slips out of her sleeve. She panics because no one is supposed to know she can enchant things to life. So, she runs. And in doing so, she meets a dragon who saves her life.  Her outburst worries her family and delays her ceremony, but the only one who seems to believe her meeting a dragon is her stepmother. The mysterious Raikama. Shiori begins to delve deep into her stepmother, and when she accidentally discovers her powers that will harm her family, she tries to tell her brothers the truth. That sets Raikama off, who then turns her brother into cranes, curses her voice to kill them if she speaks and then throws her into a corner of the world where no one will know who she is. Even if she tried, no one would believe her anyway. 

Complicated family dynamics is a core theme in Six Crimson Cranes. From Shiori’s relationship with her father, her stepmother, and her six older brothers. Shiori is quite stubborn and, in the beginning, very immature. I was worried that she wouldn’t grow out of it thus ruining my enjoyment of the book. But Lim smashes it out of the park and I adore the way Shiori grows as a character in a way that makes sense and feels rewarding as a reader. I just adore how the relationship she has with her brothers. While she adores them all she recognises the varying connections she has with each brother, some closer than others. I would’ve loved to have seen more from her brothers but I don’t rate the book less because of it since giving a spotlight to all six might be too much. 

Usually, romance in stories like these never appeals to me. I was actually shocked to find myself actually enjoying the growing relationship between Shiori and her love interest. It was so sweet and real, and never once distracts from the main plot. I read an interview where Lim explains that their relationship was a challenge for her, but I hope she knows she thoroughly succeeded. 

Based on Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Wild Swans”, Lim takes the tale and makes it her own, spinning together a gorgeous tale of a young girl who grows to find power in her own voice. An incredible start to a duology. I cannot wait to read more. 


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Review: XOXO

Review: XOXO

Rating: 3 out of 5.

**I received a proof copy from Harper360YA in exchange for an honest review**

When Jenny meets mysterious Jaewoo in her Uncle’s karaoke bar, she should have turned him away, but instead, they have a spontaneous night to remember in downtown LA. Numbers are exchanged, and Jaewoo disappears. Months later, Jenny and her mother move to South Korea to care for her ill grandmother, only to discover that Jaewoo wasn’t just a nobody but a member of one of the most prominent rising K-pop boy groups in South Korea.

Jenny is an aspiring cellist, hoping to follow her deceased father’s passion, to become a musician to make her family proud. After some harsh feedback, she feels deflated, which urges her to spend the night travelling LA with Jaewoo despite barely knowing him. When she comes to South Korea and discovers Jaewoo is no ordinary person, her life trajectory is suddenly off-balance. XOXO was fun to read; in a sense, it was like I was watching a K-drama unfold within the pages. If I were younger, I definitely would’ve enjoyed this more.  

The story is cute, and there were some adorable moments between Jenny and Jaewoo. Still, in the end, it lacked depth and any attempts to highlight the “darker side of k-pop” such as bullying and the strenuous training process fell flat and wasn’t as impactful as Oh might have intended. It’s also made me realise that these K-pop centred stories are just formulaic without any outstanding features. XOXO might be the only one that hadn’t made me feel second-hand embarrassment throughout the entire story. It suffers greatly from all tell and no show, clearly marketed towards K-pop/K-drama fans who won’t need any introduction to anything here. Jenny and Jaewoon have some highlights, but the repetitive back and forth made it a chore to read. The side characters are no better; interchangeable in my mind.  Having enjoy Oh’s other works, I was surprised to find myself so disappointed with this.

Overall. XOXO is a sweet but predictable read. That’s all I can really say, there was nothing special about it that jumped out and make it memorable. Though, through no fault of its own, has made me realise that K-pop centred stories are not for me.


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