ARC REVIEW: The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf

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Publication: 5th of February 2019

Reading this book was like taking a breath of fresh air. After I started, I couldn’t stop.

 

It was also the most emotionally involved I have been in a story for such a long time. From start till the end, I loved every single moment of it.

Maybe it’s because I am a Muslim, teenager, and South East Asian like Melati. That may make me a little biased. But honestly, I really think it’s just that good.

SYNOPSIS:

Hanna Alkaf

Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, Feb 5, 2019

Melati Ahmad looks like your typical movie-going, Beatles-obsessed sixteen-year-old. Unlike most other sixteen-year-olds though, Mel also believes that she harbors a djinninside her, one who threatens her with horrific images of her mother’s death unless she adheres to an elaborate ritual of counting and tapping to keep him satisfied.

A trip to the movies after school turns into a nightmare when the city erupts into violent race riots between the Chinese and the Malay. When gangsters come into the theater and hold movie-goers hostage, Mel, a Malay, is saved by a Chinese woman, but has to leave her best friend behind to die.

On their journey through town, Mel sees for herself the devastation caused by the riots. In her village, a neighbor tells her that her mother, a nurse, was called in to help with the many bodies piling up at the hospital. Mel must survive on her own, with the help of a few kind strangers, until she finds her mother. But the djinn in her mind threatens her ability to cope

This book… was just so good.

I started it with the intention of reading a book I probably would enjoy. I didn’t expect to come out of it a wreck of emotions.

THE HISTORY

The story takes place in 1960’s Malaysia, during the riot races. The tension between the Chinese and Malaysians are heating up and nowhere is safe.

The truth, I am ashamed to admit, is that I was unaware of such events until I read the synopsis for this book. So, this book truly was an eye opener for me.

MENTAL HEALTH

 

This was the most important part ,as well as the best part of this book.

Melati’s struggle was just so real and so heartbreaking that sometimes I just had to remind myself to take a break when reading.

Are you okay?” My eyes fly open. Saf is staring at me, brows furrowed with concern. I feel a sudden urge to tell her, to blurt out everything, all at once. No, Saf, I’m not okay. I haven’t been okay for a long time now. I’m constantly imagining my own mother’s death. I spend all with a demon in my head that only I can see or hear, and anytime I’m not doing that, I’m busy counting and tapping everything in sight just to shut him up. I’m really, really not okay. I’m so far from okay I don’t even remember what okay feels like anymore.”

The thing is, this isn’t something that only people in books go through. It is real. It’s happening everyday to teenagers and adults everywhere. There is no way to put a definite end to it , because in the end it depends on the person. However books bring more awareness to such issues, and the author does just that by giving the reader such a raw look into Melati’s mind.

RACISM

Being a Muslim teenager myself, especially one that wears the hijab, I have definitely had my share of racism. From people pretending I am invisible and don’t exist, to those who stare like I am an extinct species unearthed, I’ve had it all.

Also add that to the fact that I am Asian. Yeah, I know.

So reading the portrayal of racism in this book truly wasn’t entirely foreign to me. The hatred between the Chinese and Malaysians over the country that they both believe they have the right to live in peacefully , with the latter fighting for their country to belong to them only. The family that takes in Melati to stay with them during the riots were Chinese and their son, Frankie, is angry at the Malaysians for trying to push his people out.

The world is not black and white .People aren’t just good and others aren’t bad.

Sometimes people have been brought up and raised to believe in something and for them to believe otherwise is as if they are betraying themselves and their families, regardless of the morality. Therefore, the author doesn’t categorize each nationality into good and bad, but in some way gives us an insight as to how they may think, or certain events that may have happened to cause their actions.

RELIGION

THIS BOOK HAS GOOD MUSLIM REP!

Do you know how hard is to find YA books about Muslim teens, much less with good rep? Very.

Prayer meant asking God for his blessing and his forgiveness. Prayer meant thanking Him for everything he’d given us. And even I knew He’d given us so much.

THE WRITING

One of the things I am most in awe of, is the fact that this is the author’s debut novel. The writing was amazing! I cannot wait to read more of her work in the future.

IS THIS BOOK ON YOUR TBR? ARE YOU PLANNING ON READING IT? PLEASE TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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ARC REVIEW: Fire and Heist by Sarah Beth Durst

If this is the book that you thought might satisfy your need to read a good heist book, like I did, I am here to tell you…. this is not that book

It just felt like it tried too hard and also didn’t try at all. Honestly, it was like something I could read on Wattpad. Definitely not the work of an experienced author. 

Fire and Heist tells the story of Sky who is a wyvern, a dragon who can turn into a human, where to prove yourself you must successfully complete your first heist. But Sky also has another problem. Her mother is missing and her family is now treated like outcasts and her father refuses to tell her the truth about what really happened to her mother. But Sky is determined to find her mother and fix her family. So she decides to steal the jewel that her mother was going to before she went missing, as her first heist and find the truth.

The concept? Sounds like something I could really enjoy if executed well. Which is the problem. The execution of the story turns this from what seems like a dark story with dragons and magic and a heist, to more of a fluffy one. With dragons and and magic and a heist. 

I found the magic system to be nothing unique. I mean to turn into a Dragon all you have to do is believe in yourself. COME ON. This isn’t a Disney movie.

The characters felt flat to me, I didn’t care about them or care what happened to them. There was nothing really unique or interesting about them. They all felt the same, Sky, her brothers, her friends, everyone. Her friend Gabriella who was supposedly the smartest in the school, suddenly began to act dumb a few chapters after she was introduced. Apparently all she wanted in life was to impress Sky and get her to notice her. Ryan, the love interest here, was just so boring. I mean, I don’t know anything about “him”. No one here felt significant or had something unique about them, except for Sky, who was obviously the best of them all. 🙄

I am not going to deny that this book was engaging and fast paced. The author didn’t waste too much of time on details and moved straight to the main plot. Also, the romance wasn’t one of the main parts pf the story which I really thought was a good thing, since i really didn’t care about either of them. 

All in all this was a light, forgettable read that I think is good for a quick read, especially if your reading challenge needs a little help.

NOVEMBER WRAP UP: a surprisingly good month for me

 

December is officially upon us! I mean, this year went by so fast  and I still have books that I have to read before the end of it .

But thankfully this November I was able to get a few off my TBR, so many that I have been meaning to read, and FINALLY got to this month!

Also that means I have so many reviews that I need to write 😬.

Along with my research assignment for university which I am doing on post colonialism. And another one I need to do on the marketing of a product of my choice.

Fun stuff.

So, without further ado, here are the books that I read this November:

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Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor 

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The final book in The Daughter of Smoke and Bone series !

For me, this series peaked at the first book. The others were simply… o-kay. It definitely was unique but both Karou and Akiva’s character arcs as well as romance just fell flat for me. I wanted more of Zuzana and Mik and Ziri and Liraz.

Full review to come!

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The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta

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This one I was really surprised by. In a good way.

I really enjoyed reading it and was definitely engaged the whole time. The author is also doing a retelling of King Arthur but gender swapped? I can’t wait for that.

Check out my full review here

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The Girl in The Tower by Katherine Arden 

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What a beautiful book! I still don’t think I am completely over it. It was just so magical and reading it really was really one of the best things I decided to do this month.

Full review to come.

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 The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutoski

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I finally read this!!! I mean, this has been on and off my currently reading list just because I was never in the mood. But then I decided that I wasn’t going to read and new releases this month and would read some of the books of my TBR.

And I am glad to say, I enjoyed it! It was so much better than the first book. It had a lot more politics and overall was a much better book. The romance had been pushed to the background which made you long for it more and also gave the characters more time to develop and I learned a lot more about each of them as individuals

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 The Bird and The Blade by Megan Bannen 

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Ok, I am not going to lie. I thought that this was a sure DNF after the first few chapters. Why? Because every other sentence was a description of Prince Khalaf and how he was better than anybody else that had ever lived at Every .Single .Thing

But towards the end it got better and had a lot more about to say about the  other  characters. Thank god.

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Not Even Bones by Rebecca Schaeffer

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This was bloody good. ( pun intended)

Another one that has been on my TBR forever and finally got a chance.

This book truly was a lot of fun to read and I really do recommend it to anyone who isn’t afraid to read books where there are plenty of morally grey heroines who are willing to do whatever it takes to survive.

Full review to come.

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This one was an ARC and also my first book by this author.

Unfortunately, even though I liked the main character. The storyline was too predictable and the love interest as well as the romance fell flat for me.

Full review to come.

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Probably my favorite book abouy time travel ever.

The concept was so well executed and really well done. This book was fast paced, engaging and really shows how the choices we make and the way we react to certain events in our life can define out future.

Full review to come!

 

So overall I read some pretty good books this November and also I have decided to catch up on my ARCs this December.

So, how did your November go? Have you read any of the books that I did? Tell me in the comments!

 

Review:The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta

Yay! Another book off my November TBR. Honestly, I am so proud of me.

I am really glad that I decided to pick this one up because it was so, so worth it.

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So, if you’re curious to know what it is about, here is the synopsis:

For Teodora DiSangro, a mafia don’s daughter, family is fate.

All her life, Teodora has hidden the fact that she secretly turns her family’s enemies into music boxes, mirrors, and other decorative objects. After all, everyone in Vinalia knows that stregas—wielders of magic—are figures out of fairytales. Nobody believes they’re real.

Then the Capo, the land’s new ruler, sends poisoned letters to the heads of the Five Families that have long controlled Vinalia. Four lie dead and Teo’s beloved father is gravely ill. To save him, Teo must travel to the capital as a DiSangro son—not merely disguised as a boy, but transformed into one.

Enter Cielo, a strega who can switch back and forth between male and female as effortlessly as turning a page in a book. Teo and Cielo journey together to the capital, and Teo struggles to master her powers and to keep her growing feelings for Cielo locked in her heart. As she falls in love with witty, irascible Cielo, Teo realizes how much of life she’s missed by hiding her true nature. But she can’t forget her mission, and the closer they get to the palace, the more sinister secrets they uncover about what’s really going on in their beloved country—and the more determined Teo becomes to save her family at any cost. 

This book really had me at the first page. The whole mafia vibe? Yes. A bad ass heroine that really cares about her family? Yes.

The story takes us with Teo as she journey to meet the person who has poisoned her father in hopes of revenge and also an antidote. She journeys with both her younger brother Luca and Cielo, another strega who has mastered his/her powers and is able to shift bodies and forms. From there the plot unfolds into one of magic, politics and romance.

The romance was a huge part of why I enjoyed this book. The scenes between Cielo and Teo really got me flustered and wanting more. Another thing was just how well the magic system was built. It was so unique and also not too complicated to the point where you just end up skimming through all the descriptions.

Basically I said yes to everything in this book. I loved the plot and how the book tackled issues like feminism and gender fluidity with such ease. However, this book wasn’t perfect and was in the end a four star read because it just didn’t have that five-star “wow” factor and most of the plot was quite easily predictable for me.

Overall, it was an enjoyable read, that I  definitely recommend for anyone looking to read something this November.

Waiting On Wednesday: Wicked Saints by Emily A Duncan

This is my first book meme! I decided to choose Waiting on Wednesday because I never seem to run out of new releases to freak out about.

Waiting on Wednesday is is a weekly meme that first originated at Breaking the Spine but has since linked up with “Can’t Wait Wednesday” at Wishful Endings now that the original creator is unable to host it anymore.

Anyways, it is a fun way to share the new releases that we are excited about!

So, my pick for this week was…….

WICKED SAINTS by Emily A Duncan

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A girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself.

A prince in danger must decide who to trust.

A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings.

Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war.

In a centuries-long war where beauty and brutality meet, their three paths entwine in a shadowy world of spilled blood and mysterious saints, where a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between dark and light. Wicked Saints is the thrilling start to Emily A. Duncan’s devastatingly Gothic Something Dark and Holy trilogy..

THAT SYNOPSIS! THAT COVER!

This book sounds so good! I mean, I have been following the author on Twitter and she posts these sneak peaks and other stuff that are just slowly killing me. I mean authors really do know a special type of torture!

If you want to read a sneak peak, check it out here.

WHAT IS YOUR MOST ANTICIPATED RELEASE OF 2019? TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS.

November TBR: Trying to set a realistic tbr for once

NOVEMBER. November. NoVemBer.

I don’t know why i did that, but I am keeping it anyways.

Anyways, November is here and so is my TBR for the month. I decided to try something new and actually not try to put pressure on myself by deciding to read about 30 books and set myself a realistic TBR.

Right now, this means maybe three or four books. I know that for some people this is like the number of books they read on maybe a week. But i honestly don’t think I will be able to do a large number of books. If I do end up reading more, that’s great.

So here are the chosen few:

 NEW RELEASES:

The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta

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This book is basically the Godfather but with magic and gender fluid love interest. So… yeah. Please don’t interrupt me when I am reading this.

Beneath The Citadel by Destiny Soria

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In the reviews for this book, I have seen it being compared to Six of Crows quite often. That alone sold it for me. I have been dying to read a good heist book with an amazing set of characters, and so this could be it. I will just have to read it and see.

A SERIES I HAVE TO FINISH:

Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor

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So far, I have been enjoying this series and am definitely looking forward to reading the conclusion and i really hope I love this one as much as I did my beloved  A Muse Of Nightmares.

OFF THE TBR PILE:

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White

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So, this book could technically be categorized under New Releases as well, but I am putting it here.

This book, wasn’t really one of my most anticipated reads but I have read some pretty good reviews and am willing to give it a try. Also I love Kiersten White and I really hope she doesn’t let me down in this one.

So those are the books I am planning on reading this month!

Have you read any of these? Are you planning reading them? 

Tell me in the comments!

October Wrap Up: Not my best month for reading.

I AM BACK! WITH A WRAP UP POST FOR OCTOBER….. where I read one book. for the entire month. one book.

Yep. Just the one.

In my defense though, I just started college. I honestly didn’t expect it to consume most of my time and by the time classes are done, I really don’t have the energy to read more than 30 pages. So, that explains my reading progress and lack of posts.

I mean, i do love blogging and I want to post at least once a week ( which is a November goal). BUT IT IS SO HARD!! Like, how do you super human creatures out there, have time to post at least once a week?

Anyway, my life outside of books now just revolves around college and scrolling through  Twitter, which is my favorite social media platform to talk books. I also have to post more on my bookstagram.

So I don’t even know why i need a wrap up post because I don’t have that much to talk about. However, I haven’t been blogging that much at all and I decided that while I had some free time, I might as well.

BOOK REVIEWS:

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I am so glad I finally got to reading this series. It was just so well written and a really great read.

I know that it’s marketed as a love story, but it is much more than that. If you are looking for a good romance and also a book with a great plot and characters, this book should definitely be your next read.

READ MY REVIEW BELOW!

More reasons to fall in love with Laini Taylor: Daughter-in-law of Smoke and Bone

DISCUSSION POSTS:

I am international blogger, as you guys know, and one of the struggles we face is with ARCs ( Advanced Reader Copies) and the fact that they aren’t as available to us, especially when it comes to the physical copies.

HERE ARE MY  THOUGHTS ON THE SUBJECT:

International Book Blogger Discussion: ARCS

AMAZING POSTS FROM OTHER BLOGGERS:

I love Emma and her October went great, unlike mine so check it out here.

LOVE.Love.love this post by Vicky that talks about how YA books, though marketed to teens, really aren’t for us

If you are confused as to how Edelweiss works, this post by Kaleena should help!

So that is a wrap on this post! Tell me how your October went in the comments below!!

 

 

 

Book Review: The Girl in The Tower by Katherine Arden

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This book has my whole heart.

I mean,  how can something so amazing as this book exist without the rest of the world loving it as much as I do? This book is truly a hidden gem.

I read The Bear and The Nightingale earlier this year and I really liked it. I decided not to read the sequel right away because I tend to have really bad experiences with binge reading a series, especially fantasy.

I am really glad I put it off till now, because I don’t think I would have appreciated it as much if I had read it then. Also I have to wait less for The Winter of The Witch to  release!

If you haven’t already read the books, you should. It is so, so worth it.

SYNOPSIS:

Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya’s options are few: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both doom her to life in a tower, cut off from the vast world she longs to explore. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good graces—even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop.

 

This book starts right where The Bear and The Nightingale ended, with Vasya running away dressed up as a boy towards a new future. A future where ,as a boy, she may do as she pleases and explore the world as she wishes.

However, the world is a dangerous place and Vasya must go through much hardship, and she will be tested.

I really loved Vasya in this book, maybe because the book was about her journey to the world beyond her village. She was so brave and flawed and just wanted tonbe loved and accepted as who she was, without having society decide it for her.

It really was empowering to see her choose for herself, and the book doesn’t force feminism and equality on you, to the point where it is just too overwhelming and you’re feel like you’ve heard this a thousand times before. It just fit into the story.

I don’t think this book could be what it is, if it  wasn’t for Katherine Arden’s writing which was lyrical and just pure magic. It reminded me so much of Laini Taylor, the way it flowed.

I really, really need more people to read this book, this series. It’s like hot chocolate for your soul. I need the next book to come out as soon as possible!

 

More reasons to fall in love with Laini Taylor: Daughter-in-law of Smoke and Bone

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This book… was incredible! 

I mean, I started it expecting a love story, which i got, but also this was so much more than that.

This book was about war and peace and colonialism and also about  loneliness , which is equally as important.

This book is about Karou an art student in the city of Prague. She draws monsters, gossips with her best friend and constantly has to avoid her ex. But that’s just the normal part of her life. The monsters she draws are real, and they raised her. She also happens to run errands collecting teeth for them. 

No Big Deal. 

But then Karou meets Akiva, an angel and they are both drawn to each other, a connection neither can explain. Karou begins to learn more about who she really is and the truth of her past

The best part of this book is the writing. Laini Taylor truly has a gift. She makes you fall in love with every single letter. I mean, I don’t think I would have loved this book as much if it hadn’t been for the incredible writing. Everything from the characters, who all just fit perfectly with each other ( Zuzana 😍) , to the world building, I could picture all of it happening in front of me, and the plot, were just so well done! 

I usually don’t have a good experience with binge reading a series, but I might just make an exception for this one.

International Book Blogger Discussion: ARCS

Right now, with basically only a month of blogging, bookstagramming and being on book twitter, and having 16 followers( who i am so grateful for) , under my sleeve, i doubt publishers are going to send me ARCs of my most anticipated books, when there are so many more well deserving people. However, the problem lies in the fact that getting a physical ARC even when you have maybe 1000-2000 followers, is not very common.

I know, getting an ARC is not the height of success and when you don’t get one it doesn’t mean that you aren’t a good blogger or anything. It’s just that for me, in some way i feel like i belong with these amazing book bloggers that get sent ARCs without even asking. In some way, it makes me feel seen.

I remember the first ARC i received , Damsel by Elana K Arnold, via Edelweiss. This was after about i think 6(?) rejections for The Wicked King, which i finally got to read through a friend. I was so excited. It wasn’t my most anticipated read ( though now one of my favorite reads of the year), but when i got the email saying i had gotten approved, i was over the moon. I wouldn’t shut up about it, for like two hours. At a stretch.

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love this gif! but i really was this excited

After that I got approved for a couple more, that i am really so grateful for. But it still remains that we usually receive e- ARCs and that on Edelweiss mainly. You can just wish for it on NetGalley

I get it, the publishers are being practical. Shipping is not cheap. But, neither is it for us when we buy the books they publish. We also read, review and promote them. People do read our blogs too, and may decide to purchase a book because of a review we have written. In some acknowledgement of this, we wouldn’t mind getting an ARC or a finished copy, every now and then.

I love the book community. I really do. I love how so many bloggers, readers and everyone support each other, and connect with one another, regardless of whether they have met in real life. It’s so refreshing to see when people don’t take into account their gender, religion, sexuality or anything when getting know, love and support one another. I love when US based or Canadian bloggers support other international bloggers, by hosting international giveaways (  thank you for spending on us ) or maybe sending us ARCs or anything, really.

 

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I also have a weird obsession with watching book mail videos on YouTube and Instagram? I am not sure if this is because i like watching people unpack things( yeah, i know, i am weird. But, i really do like it) or because i enjoy just seeing them getting the books and getting excited? I am not sure, but probably both.

Anyways, i don’t hate any of the US based bloggers, who get ARCs. I actually love watching you guys get so excited about your book mail and i love reading your reviews. I also don’t hate the publishers, i just want you guys to give us a chance every once in a while.

These incredible bloggers also wrote a post about this, check them out!

Marie from Drizzle and books: read it

Inside My Library Mind’s post.

Marta on The Cursed Books: read it

P.S: I am going to try and request a physical ARC of Wicked Saints, which i am dying to read. Let’s see how it goes.

ARE YOU ARE AN INTERNATIONAL BLOGGER? TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS! ALSO, IF YOU AREN’T , YOU CAN STILL TALK TO ME!