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.

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.

Review: A Muse Of Nightmares ( Strange the Dreamer #2)

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“For an instant, at least, they seemed one and the same, as though all anguish exists in the same deep well, no matter what loss or misfortune leads us to it. We might be at odds, hate each other, and desired each others destruction, but in our despair, we are lost in the same darkness, breathing the same air as we choke on our grief.”

I honestly can’t think of the appropriate words to describe my feelings after reading this book. It is an absolute masterpiece. I don’t think that i have ever read a book that left me reeling, like this did. There are books that after i was finished i was left in shock by the plot twists and all the drama. This was not one of those books. After finishing it, i felt like i was in love. All i could think about was this book and how i never would be able to get over it. At some points I just wanted to go rip my heart out of my chest, because it is so full of emotions and feelings and other things i can’t even describe.
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This book starts right where Strange the Dreamer left off, with the fates of Sarai and the people of Weep being in the hands of Minya. If Lazlo wishes to be with Sarai, then he must be willing to let the people of Weep face Minya’s fury.
The first book, was mostly the story of Lazlo and Sarai and the world as they saw it. However, this book gives us a look into the lives of the other characters as well.
It ‘s a story of gods and humans, of love and hate, of hope and pain and family. But mostly, it was a story about love.
The love between siblings, the love between family and the love between two people. It was also a story about hate and pain and how it can consume you, like love, and make you capable of things you never thought possible.

“People are our safe places. I have one: a person who’s a home and a world to me.” 

I loved how Minya’s story was told. Not the one that we see through the eyes of Sarai and the others. But her story, told by her and through her mind. I honestly can’t imagine living in so much of fear as a child, and then at the age of five , going through what she did. She raised four children, not that much younger than she was. She had every right to be angry. However, it consumed her until it became a part of her. I really did feel for her and just wanted for her to find happiness in some way or another.
The writing in this is just incredible. It just flows . Its just so unique and pulls you in and never lets go until the end. Half of the reason that I loved this book was the writing. It was so beautiful and tragic and felt like i was reading poetry. I don’t think that anyone

writes like Laini Taylor does. It’s so unique and is an experience all on its own.

I really ashamed to admit that this wasn’t one of my most anticipated releases of the year. I decided to pick it up because-why not? I am so glad i did, because after finishing it, i am in an utter state of bliss. This book does leave room for a third installment and i really hope it happens!

Also, i just wanted to add some pictures of my gorgeous babies here:

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Ruby

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Minya

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Feral

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Sparrow

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Sarai

 

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Lazlo Strange

Go here to find out which godspawn you are!

Vengeful by V. E Schwab

There are good books, and there are really good books. This is a really good book. 

I finished  Viscous a day before starting this and i loved it. I thought it was good. This on the other hand, i LOVED! I was gripped from the very first page, something that recently, very few books have been able to do to me. 

This story starts five years after the events of Viscous. Victor Vale is alive and well, and also dying. After his resurrection, something is wrong with him and so he goes on a search for a way to heal himself. However, he still hasn’t forgotten about Eli and his need for vengeance. 

Eli Ever on the other hand is held captive by EON, an organization that captures EOs. He works with them, in helping them finding EOs 

Enter Marcella, the newest EO and also the most bold, daring and has no sense of things in moderation. If she wants it, you better believe she will get it. Working alongside her is June, who is an EO with the ability to change her appearance.

This book did one thing, I never thought was possible: it made me feel sorry for Eli Ever. Yeah, i know. The author gives us more of his backstory and it explains a lot about his behavior.

Eli didn’t know how he was broken, but he wanted to be healed.

He wanted to be saved.”

Which is what annoys me, since i just wanted to hate him in peace. 

At least she gave us Marcella and June, who take being ruthless to another level. They give new meaning to the word badass. They are the definition of it. 

 How many men would she have to turn to dust before one took her seriously?”

Women shouldn’t be underestimated, especially when they have been wronged. You may as well do yourself a favor and die. Because if they want you dead, you’re probably going to be pretty soon. True Icons. 

Victor, Victor, Victor. I don’t think he will love me back as much as i love him. I just wanted to heal him myself and every time that he was hurt, I felt it. I know i am going all schoolgirl gushy over him, but whatever. I really and truly have a crush on him. 

The one complaint about this book would be Sydney. I wish we had more of her. She seemed like a side character that came in every now and then, and I really needed more of her and Victor. 

I really hope there is another book and that we won’t have to wait five more years for it.

It is definitely a book I would read. 

BOOK REVIEW: VISCOUS by V.E Schwab

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“Plenty of humans were monstrous, and plenty of monsters knew how to play at being human.”
This book is so cool.
i mean i really have no idea why i kept putting this off for some reason, but i am glad i finally decided to pick it up. It was so worth it. I can now add Victor Vale to my characters-who-just -want-to be-loved-and -i -will-love-them bookshelf.
This book focuses on Victor Vale and Eli Ever who as college students decide to test their thesis on EOs and it goes wrong when Victor kills Eli’s girlfriend by accident. This leads to Eli turning Victor in and deciding that all EOs were damaged and needed to be killed. Victor on the other hand, plans his revenge on his best friend to get revenge for what he did. The book alternates between the events of the past and the present day, where Victor is about to make Eli pay.
(worst summary ever, i know)
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Victor Vale is bent on getting revenge on Eli and probably spent every second, of everyday in prison picturing the day he finally did. However, he can’t do it alone and gathers a crew consisting of Mitch, who is a huge, convict, with bad luck and hacker and Sydney. Sydney is a 12 year old, who has necromancy powers and was picked off the road by Victor after she was betrayed by her sister.

Eli on the other hand, is someone i wouldn’t mind punching in the face a couple of times. He makes it his mission to kill all EOs because he thinks they’re “wrong” , despite the fact that he himself is one. He is self righteous, and though i usually love a good villain, i really hate him. WHO GAVE YOU THE RIGHT TO DECIDE OTHER PEOPLES’ LIVES FOR THEM, ELI? WHO? JUST DIE.
Eli’s “side kick” Serena, also Sydney’s sister, is probably the best thing that ever happened to him. She is just such a goddamn queen. She is feisty, smart and beautiful. She needs to have a statue.

I honestly don’t know how you guys survived the wait for the second book because i would have been six feet under by now. If you haven’t read this, please make sure you do. You can thank me later.

ARC REVIEW: THE WICKED KING by Holly Black

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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.

REVIEW: The Poppy War by R.F Kaung

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“Great danger is always associated with great power. The difference between the great and the mediocre is that the great are willing to take the risk.”

I really don’t know why, but i kept putting off reading this one for sometime. I saw the gushing reviews and recommendations, but i just didn’t pick this one up. Then finally, i decided: why not? I am so glad that i did that, because i needed this book in my life. Everyone does. i cannot elaborate on how much i loved it. I felt like i had finished a workout after reading this, the adrenaline rush was real. I loved all the characters and was so emotionally involved in this, that if they died(spoiler alert!), i died.

SYNOPSIS :

A powerful epic fantasy novel with roots in the 20th-century history of China.

Opium runs through the heart of the Nikara Empire, a constant reminder of the war with the Federation of Mugen that brought it to the empire’s shores. A war that only ended thanks to three heroes – the Vipress, the Dragon Emperor and the Gatekeeper – known as the Trifecta. They were legendary figures, each bestowed with god-like powers, who united the warlords of the Empire against the Federation.

Decades have passed. The Trifecta is shattered; the Dragon Emperor is dead, the Gatekeeper is missing, and the Vipress alone sits on the throne at Sinegard. Peace reigns, yet the poppy remains.

War orphan Fang Runin grew up with it. Her adopted family smuggles it throughout the Rooster province, making a living on the misfortune of those addicted to its smoke. But when Rin’s parents force her into an arranged marriage, Rin refuses to accept her fate and fights her way to the prestigious military academy at Sinegard.

There she will learn of drug-fuelled shamanic powers thought to be myth, powers which might defeat the Federation during its third invasion. But the cost of some power is too great to pay, even if it means winning a war that threatens to destroy an entire nation.

This book is about war. The horrors of it , the effect it can have on people decades later, centuries even. It is a book about how people are used and treated like animals when they cannot be understood. When we cross the boundaries of humanity, into a place where man has disregard for the life of another, for the lives of thousands.

“War doesn’t determine who’s right. War determines who remains.” 

The book starts off light, with Rin determined to get into Sinegard and away from her foster family who are trying to marry her off. She works hard for it and that is something i respect about this book. There is actual struggle to study and earn her place.  However, being a dark skinned, poor girl at Sinegard is not easy. She has to constantly prove herself and make sure that she doesn’t lose her place. She is bullied and treated unjustly, but that doesn’t make her back down. She earned her place here and she wasn’t going to lose it.

“Children ceased to be children when you put a sword in their hands. When you taught them to fight a war, then you armed them and put them on the front lines, they were not children anymore. They were soldiers.”

The book depicts the actual war that took place in China in the 1930 and the author does not skip the details. The pain suffered, physically and emotionally. The anger, the hate and the loss of hope. This book is not an easy read.

I loved Rin, her bravery, her determination and also her vulnerability-which she turned to strength. She was such a strong character and she did not let other people define her or put her down. She did not let the prospect of having to work hard stop her. She grew, she learned and her character development was amazing throughout the book.

i felt so many things while reading this: anger, pain, sorrow, happiness. This book makes you feel things. It makes you go through the pain as well as the happiness. It should be read.

If you didn’t already get this from the review- i loved it. I couldn’t stop until i was done. It is definitely a one of my favorite books of all time and i can’t wait for the sequel.

 

Review: The Bear and the Nightingale

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What a beautiful book! After I was finished, i felt so… dreamy. I want to live in a world where I can live with a frost demon and ride a stallion. Also this book just increased my obsession with horses and my undying love for them . It was so atmospheric and honestly like reading one of those fairy tales.
THE PLOT:
Vasilisa is a young girl, the last child of her dead mother, who also happened to inherit a gift for being able to see creatures not otherwise visible to man. This sets her apart from a young age and she is labeled a witch for being different from other girls. She refuses to be treated like an object or as though she had no worth beyond being a wife and a mother. She is wild, independent and brave. She is an outcast. However, after a new priest begins to cause fear among the people, dangerous creatures begin to awaken that cause death and wreak havoc, and only Vasilisa can save them.

THE CHARACTERS:
The characters are written really well and each have more to them than you first assume and there is a story behind each of their choices and how they all came to be who the person they are. A villain isn’t just born a villain, they aren’t evil from the moment they were born. There is a reason for their actions, their parents, their upbringing, their personal experiences.They are each distinct and memorable.

THE WRITING:
My favorite part of the book . It was so beautiful and perfect and i just wanted to have this story read to me as while i sat, wrapped in a blanket, in front of the fire, while it snowed outside. It was perfect for this type of story and complemented it perfectly. It was lyrical and it was so…romantic.

OVERALL:
I loved it and thought that it was just perfect. I am definitely going to read the sequel