Book Review: Of Pens and Swords by Rena Rocford (with Spoilers)


Title: Of Pens and Swords
Author: Rena Rocford
Genre: Teens & Young Adult, Romance
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Published: 21st March 2016
Available Edition(s): Paperback
ISBN: 9781620071656
Date read: 28th April – 22nd June 2016
Rating: 4 / 5 stars

I received the digital copy of this book from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.


Seventeen-year-old Cyra Berque wants two things in life: a date with Rochan and a chance to fence at the Olympics. But people with one hand don’t normally fence, and girls with big thighs don’t get the boy. Knowing that she wants to make the Olympics, Cyra’s coach sets her up with another coach, one who could take her all the way to the top, but the new coach costs more. Feeling her dreams slipping out of reach, Cyra agrees to tutor a ballerina with a rich father and a D minus in English. It’s triple the pay and triple the pain. The ballerina isn’t interested in passing classes―she wants Rochan, and she’s promised she’ll turn her D minus into a full-fledged F if Cyra doesn’t help her win the heart of Rochan.

I am ashamed that I’ve only just finished reading this book today. I started this book on April 28th, when things started to get interesting that I couldn’t put the book down, I went on a sleepover to my friend’s house, and then received a digital copy of Trials of Apollo, and started reading that. Of Pens and Swords was abandoned for T.O.A, and I didn’t pick it up again until now.

When I read the first few pages of the book, I already started liking Cyra. Despite the loss of one hand and not having enough money, she stayed strong and worked hard to achieve her dreams.

I also developed an instant dislike towards Sara. I knew I shouldn’t judge so early in the book, but I couldn’t help myself. At least, in the end, her attitude didn’t change, and was still as horrible as before.

Then, comes in Christine, the ballerina mentioned in the summary. Here, I made a mistake with Christine. When she first moved to Cyra’s school, and treated Cyra just like how Sara treated Cyra, I judged her based on stereotype. Additionally, the summary didn’t really paint Christine in a good light. I thought I won’t be able to like her, because she seemed like a spoiled, rich kid.

I knew it was a bad idea when Cyra helped Christine get Rochan by writing these letters and make Christine pass it as her own. Romantic relationships that started on lies tend to backfire. However, I like that through this, Cyra and Christine started to develop a great friendship. Like Cyra, my views on Christine change after reading about how dedicated she was to ballet, and how determined she was to get into the ballet company with her own talent and hard-work. I even find it hard t o not like her because she is very sweet and likeable, despite how she acted at first.

At one point of the story, Cyra started to annoy me slightly. I think Christine genuinely thinks of Cyra as a friend, and so does Cyra, but at times, she was jealous of Christine. Because it was her words that Christine used to get Rochan. Yes, I’m annoyed at this because, hey, she agreed to do it. I can’t remember if she was the one who came up with the idea, but hey, there’s no use getting jealous now. I get even more annoyed with Cyra when Christine wanted to come clean but Cyra told her not to do that. But I guess that’s what makes the characters humans. Humans are flawed.

One of the things that kept me hooked (pun not intended) to the story is Cyra. Or specifically, how Cyra loses her hand. As the story progress, I felt like it was one of the things that won’t be explained in the book. But I was glad that it was explained, and my curiousity satisfied, even if it happened nearing the end of the book.

I was kind of expecting a bit more heartache and feeling of betrayal when Christine found out that Cyra is really in love with Rochan too, but that didn’t happen. Instead, she accepted it with good grace, was the one who pushed Cyra to tell Rochan the truth about the letters, saying that Rochan is not in love with her but the poet. The heartache did come, but not in the way I imagined. That was a real plot twist right there. I cried after that, and still cried after I finished reading the book.

The only thing I didn’t quite like about this book was the final chapter, the one before the epilogue. I think it would be better without the kiss between Rochan and Cyra. Or perhaps, instead of them kissing each other on the lips, Rochan kissing Cyra on the cheek would’ve been sweeter. I think. I mean, it hadn’t been long that long since the tragedy, so it didn’t seem appropriate to me.

In conclusion, reading this book was a journey. In this book, I was reminded yet again to not judge someone based on how they were painted in the summary of the book or by their wealth or stereotype. I find that the thing I love most in this book is the friendship between Cyra and Christine. It started out with Cyra being just a tutor, but ended up with them liking each other as a friend. A good friend even. Cyra ended up telling Christine about her past, about how she lost her hand, and Christine helped Cyra when she felt like she was about to give up on her dreams of going to the Olympics.

I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars, and would recommend it to everyone, especially those who wants to read about a good book with friendship that can make you cry.


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