ARC REVIEW: The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

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!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

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.

ARC REVIEW: THE WICKED KING by Holly Black

40097144-05F9-429B-8427-23F08E0FC1E5.jpeg

I’ve been played. 

How could Holly Black do this to my weak mortal heart? How can she live with herself after this? I feel like my heart has been ripped out my chest and will only be returned at the end of the series. So basically my life depends on The Queen of Nothing. That’s great. 

THE PLOT: 

Power is much easier to acquire than it is to hold onto.”

Jude now has control of Cardan but it’s slowly slipping away. She needs to make sure that the throne is ready for Oak when he is of age, but to do that she must take power from where she can and must figure out who has betrayed her before it’s too late. 

THE CHARACTERS: 

Wow. If you thought they were complex in the first book, then you should be happy to find out that they become even more so in this one. Everyone is unpredictable. Everyone has a secret. Everyone needs power and they are willing to do whatever it takes to get it. 

I loved Jude even more in this book just because there was a bit more of vulnerability and maturity. She is so determined to get what she wants and will let nothing stand in her way, let it be the whole of Faerie. She is not your typical protagonist and is doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty. She is stubborn and brave and cunning and makes you feel for her. 

“The three of you have one solution to every problem. Murder. No key fits every lock.” Cardan gives us all a stern look, holding up a long-fingered hand with my stolen ruby ring still on one finger. “Someone tries to betray the High King, murder. Someone gives you a harsh look, murder. Someone disrespects you, murder. Someone ruins your laundry, murder.”

Cardan obviously remains my favorite. He is just everything i need from the “villain “ of the story. I honestly feel things for him that I haven’t felt for anyone in real life so far. He is just so vulnerable and needs to be told that he is loved and needed. My heart broke at multiple points in this book and won’t recover until he gets the happy ending he deserves. 

Our eyes meet, and something dangerous sparks.
He hates you, I remind myself.
“Kiss me again,” he says, drunk and foolish. “Kiss me until I am sick of it.”

Also the sexual tension between Cardan and Jude, had me squealing the whole time. I just wanted them to confess their feelings for each other once and for all. I needed them to. I usually can’t handle romance in a fantasy because i find it too cheesy. This was nothing like that. They were both aware that it was a toxic relationship. They hated one another as much as they desired  each other.

I think that this is Holly Black’s best book yet and I can’t wait for you guys to read it and go through the same torture that I am facing right now. (Yes, the book is rubbing off on me). There really are no words to describe my love for this book and how good it is. It makes you think that you’ve got the plot all figured out and you’re a genius. Well guess what? You didn’t guess it, not even close. Holly Black is the only one here with a storytelling IQ of 200. This book is a masterpiece and that is the only way to describe it. Go ahead and pre order it. It’s going to be the best book of 2019.

ARC Review: For a Muse of Fire

download (13)

“Never show, Never tell.”
Okay, before i start the official review, i wanted to know: didn’t that line remind you of Frozen? Just me? That’s fine.

I have a feeling a lot of you are going to like this book, and that’s good. Personally I am really not sure about my feelings regarding this book. I liked it, but I didn’t love it. I read every page, i wanted to. But I didn’t devour it. There were some things that I didn’t predict, but unfortunately I predicted most of them. Also if you want to know, it isn’t like Frozen.

The story takes place in Chakra which has been conquered by the Aquitans’, and all magic has been banned.

Jetta, is a shadow player, one of the best. She uses her ability of being able to capture dead souls to control her puppets. How? She traps the souls in her puppets and commands them. The problem lies in the fact that the use of , or having such a power could get her killed.
However Jetta has another problem, one that is just inside her: she is mentally ill. The only cure that she knows of is the water of a magical fountain and to get there would mean that she would have to secure a place on the king’s ship that would take her to Aquitan.

However Jetta and her family are soon in danger when she nearly gives them away. With the help of Leo, a gun smuggler for the rebels, she tries to make her way to Aquitan without being found out.

THE CHARACTERS:
Jetta- she is brave and willing to do anything for her family. She is also scared of herself, the power she years and what she really is.

Leo- the owner of La Perl, a bar and a stripper club and also the smuggler for the rebels,though he is not directly in league with them. Even though he was present during most of the book, I would have liked to get to know him better.

Captain Le Garde- the army general and an all round asshole.

I wish we could have had characters such as the Boy King, Theodora and Cheeky’s explored a bit more. They were important but weren’t really given the necessary attention.
The writing was engaging and kept you interested but wasn’t unique. The author uses a few french words in the beginning that may confuse you and like me you may find yourself googling “What is a fantoche?”

Themes such as mental illness, colonialism and feminism explored quite well.

All in all, the book was an engaging read that most readers will enjoy. I definitely will read the sequel.

*Thank you to the publisher for providing me with an arc of this book via Edelweiss*

ARC Review: The Tiger at Midnight

 

download-14.jpg

Thank you to the publisher for providing an ARC to via Edelweiss

“Never greet a tiger at midnight,

for they are the manifestations

of your past misdeeds”

All An Ember in the ashes fans, who want to read something similar, this is the book you are looking for.

I was really excited to read this book after reading the blurb. I mean I love books with good politics, romance and mystery… and this book had all of it, but it was it wasn’t enough. 

This doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a good book. I did enjoy reading it and was engaged during the story.

So what is it about?

The story takes place in the lands of Jansa and Dharka, two lands bound together by magic that descends from twins Naria and Narian and requires a blood ritual from their bloodline, who are the only ones who have magical powers. Only the females are allowed to rule and it is their blood that is necessary to ensure that the bond isn’t broken. 

However, the land in Jansa has been taken over by  a man (typical), known as the Pretender King after a massacre of the rightful royals in Jansa. This results in problems such as droughts and diseases for both lands, and the only thing that can save them is if the blood ritual is performed. The only descendant believed to be alive is Princess Reha, and no one knows where she is. 

Kunal and Esha , one a soldier forced into the army as a child by his uncle,  after the death of his parents and the other is the feared Viper, the  legendary assassin, that no one knows the identity of, much less that it is a girl. 

Esha is on a mission to kill the general, who happens to be Kunal’s uncle, as a part of the plan to take down the king by the rebel group of Dharka, known as the Crescent Blades. Her path and Kunal’s cross during this, a moment that changes everything.

She finds the general murdered by someone already, who has framed her. Who else knew she was supposed to be here? 

Kunal is then sent on a mission to find the Viper which will make him Commander. He puts two and two together, and so begins the cat and mouse game. 

The romance in this was kind of insta lovey, but not overwhelming. I love that they wanted each other as they were,accepting everything. 

The characters were interesting and Kunal is my favourite. He loves to paint, but has to hide it as he is a soldier. No one is one dimensional and they are quite complex. I didn’t really like Esha that much because i felt that she was similar to a lot of other characters i have read before. She is beautiful and everyone loved her. She was total badass though, so she gets points. 

The author’s writing was engaging and the the story flowed quite smoothly. It was able to narrate the story in a way that kept the reader interested. The characters do go through development as the story goes and we learn more about their past and how Kunal regrets all his choices being made for him, whereas Esha  regrets her past actions. They were realistic and i did enjoy reading about them.

Overall it was a an enjoyable read and I can’t wait to read the sequel

ARC Review: Damsel by Elena K Arnold

* Thank you to the publisher for providing me an ARC via Edelweiss *

Before i start the official review i wanted to add a small summary  of the The story original sleeping beauty ( not the Disney one) which went like this: A KING finds sleeping beauty, rapes her, she gets pregnant with his twins , one of whom sucks the poisonous splinter out of her thumb, she wakes up , goes to the king who kills his current wife to marry her. The end. Yep, I ruined your childhood. However I think that it is necessary to add that before you start judging the book.

Damsel is the best adaptation of it , in my opinion. The reason you may not like it is because you have gotten so used to hearing the Disney version, that isn’t as twisted and makes you feel all happy and optimistic, whereas this book makes you feel the opposite. 

This book is probably going to get a lot of hate, i am sure of it. But personally, I felt that this book is something the world needs. It is a story that needs to be told, whether you may choose to read it or not. 

The plot focuses on Ama, the “damsel” rescued by Emory, the prince,from a dragon that was supposedly guarding her. She returns with him to Harding, his kingdom as his queen-to-be. She is told repeatedly that she is a woman and therefore must behave like one. And how must she do that? She must be obedient and willing to shape herself to whatever the man asks of her. As a means to pleasure him, as a loving wife and as a bearer of his children. 

Slowly Ama begins to realize Emory is not everything he seemed to be at the beginning. She begins to question what she has been told about herself and her rescue, and the truth is an ugly thing.

Yes, it is disturbing and makes you feel uncomfortable. It explores themes such as rape , suicide, depression and animal harm in graphic detail. But it also makes you think twice about a trope we all accept blindly: the prince that rescues the damsel is a hero. They are in love. They belong together. The end. 

Maybe that shouldn’t always be the story, and we shouldn’t accept it so easily. 

If you want a light read, romance and a happily ever after, then this book is not what you are looking for. If you are looking for something feminist, dark and with beautiful writing, then please don’t hesitate in reading this.