Review: Four Aunties and a Wedding

Review: Four Aunties and a Wedding

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.*

Never the bride, always the photographer. Meddy Chan never imagined she would wed her college sweetheart. Instead, she hires another family-fun business, appearing like a dream. Everything is going fine until Meddy overhears them taking out a target at her wedding, and suddenly, she is forced to make sure another wedding doesn’t become a crime scene. Can the Chans save the day, or will this become a wedding no one will want to remember?

I was super excited to see what the Chans will get up to in this sequel; having enjoyed the first, deciding to speak so lowly of this was disappointing. 

The best part about Dial A for Aunties is getting to lean into the absurdity of it all. It’s so ridiculous, which is what made it so great to read. The Chan are endearing and fun. Four Aunties and a Wedding felt a lot more absurd, and while this isn’t a series where you should be caring about realism., the misadventures in here aren’t as marvellous as it was before. The humour is still the same, but the plot is just too similar, and none of the characters has grown since the events of Dial A. This is more of a personal ick, but the aunts doing strange British accents weren’t funny at all.  What made it less enjoyable was the fact it all takes place during the wedding, and no one seems to bat an eye that Meddy, the bride, is barely present. Nate really should’ve kicked up a bigger fuss. I think this would’ve been a lot more fun if the events occurred in the days going up to the wedding because having to witness what should be one of the best days in Meddy’s life go horrifically wrong did not feel fun at all. I’m surprised Sutanto managed to tie everything up in the end because it just sounds miserable. 

Overall, Four Aunties was fun, but it wasn’t nearly as enjoyable as the first. The plot is predictable without any redeeming elements and lacklustre development. If anything, this series is truly a test for anyone who wants to practise suspension of disbelief. 


GOODREADS | AMAZON | AUTHOR

Review: You Truly Assumed

Review: You Truly Assumed

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.*

After a terrorist attack near her home, Sabriya’s summer plans are thrown out the window. Instead, she turns to an online journal to express her feelings. You Truly Assumed (the blog)  becomes a hit as Muslim teens gather around the new community. Soon, Zakat and Farah join the team to help, but as their numbers rise, so makes the malicious comments. And the community they’ve worked so hard to build might just come tumbling down if they don’t speak up. 

You Truly Assumed is a story that had a lot of potential. And I feel like it almost hits the spot but fails to keep its momentum. Let’s start with the plot. Three girls, Bri, Zakat and Farah. Bri is a ballet dancer whose summer auditions are cut short after a terrorist attack makes her hometown standstill. Her sister encourages her to put her pen to a digital paper and sets up an online blog to discuss her thoughts privately, or so she thought. Instead of auditions, she’s helping the terror attack victims while YTA thrives.  She recruits Farah, who is currently spending the summer with her estranged father and joins the team to help run the tech side of the blog. Zakat’s artistic flair brings a new image to the blog; however, her family aren’t supportive of her future in art. When Bri notices an influx of hate comments, a physical threat almost tears them down, and they have to figure out how to control it or risk shutting the site down. 

You Truly Assumed thrives in concept. I adored the idea of three young women using the blog to tell their stories, creating a community where they can discuss what they want on their terms. It also highlights the voice and individual levels of three young Black Muslim girls. I really enjoyed seeing the diversity in their lives and how Sabreen explores the different ways a person can experience Islamaphobia and racism. 

My main issue with You Truly Assumed is that while the plot is engaging, the writing simply isn’t. It felt weird reading the story of Sabriya, Zakat and Farah because it reads like three stories forced into one book. It’s one big book telling the readers what happens and not an ounce of showing. We are told their blog is thriving, yet we only see three, maybe four, posts within the book. If I can recall correctly, only two of them were actually blogging content.  We are told these girls have become close friends, but their conversations are limiting and most of their development happen off-page. This entire book hinges on the emotional connection between these girls, but the emotion isn’t there, so readers are left just to watch it all happen. 

Overall, I wasn’t impressed. The heart of the story is so there and close within our reach. It feels like a story incomplete, and it was exhausting to read, mainly because I was imagining what the book could’ve been. 

GOODREADS | AMAZON | AUTHOR

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

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