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

BOOK BOYFRIENDS: The lucky few who have won my heart.

So, as bookworms, especially those of YA, i think having a crush on a fictional character is probably something you’ve experienced with pretty much every book you’ve read and loved.

giphy.gif

I am not going to lie, there have been so many times when all i wanted was to be the person they were in love with. Especially the ones that are cold and cruel at first but then… slowly start to soften up. Then there is absolutely no doubt about it- i am probably going to spend the next few hours post-reading the book, fantasizing about them. I am not even embarrassed.

So without further ado, here are the men that have won my heart:

1.KAZ BREKKER:

If you don’t know who he is, i recommend that you stop reading this immediately and pick up a copy of Six of Crows. If you have already read it, who are you kidding? I am pretty sure you’re already in love with him and THAT QUOTE! That quote killed you. Admit it.

The reason I loved this romance and all of the romance in this book really, was that it was not overdone. It was realistic. Every Kaz and Inej moment had me breathless, and I am usually not the biggest fan of majority of the romance in books. Kaz truly has my heart, and I can’t wait to see where the third book takes him.

2. WILLIAM DARCY

e0a227354a2f6efedce1bea810618d59

Ah, Mr. Darcy. He probably inspired a lot of book boyfriend memes as well as a lot of male love interests. His intial behavior towards Elizabeth and cruel remarks are probably not the best introduction, but towards the end… I was totally in love.His botched proposal, saving the day at the end and his overall improved behavior, makes him just that much hotter.

I think Elizabeth Bennet is one of the fictional characters i related to the most, and her and Darcy are a couple i wholeheartedly ship.

*Also i think BBC’s adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, is probably the best. Colin Firth as Darcy was perfect

3. PETER KAVINSKY

download

Yeah, i know. Peter Kavinsky is everybody’s boyfriend. He is a cliche of the “popular guy that is not everything he seems at first thing”. But i can’t help it. Like millions of others out there in the world i am in love with Peter Kavinsky. I mean Lara Jean totally doesn’t deserve him. I do.

 

4. GILBERT BLYTHE

c8da0ea6640f4efff7c60990928e54ec--gilbert-blythe-gilbert-osullivan.jpg

Gilbert Blythe was probably one of my first crushes ever. He was so…perfect. Smart, funny, loyal and just so romantic. Also, very important, handsome.

We all need a Gilbert in our lives.

 

SO WHAT ABOUT YOU GUYS? WHO ARE YOUR BOOK BOYFRIENDS OR GIRLFRIENDS? TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS.

 

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.

REVIEW: The Poppy War by R.F Kaung

download (5)

“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.

 

The best YA books of 2018 ( so far)

So, 2018 is nearly coming to an end and we have had some pretty good YA books. Lots of diversity and important themes that have been explored. So here’s some of my favorite book releases of the year in no particular order:

THE CRUEL PRINCE by Holly Black

download (2)

What a ride this book was! So many different plot twists, betrayals and secrets. Definitely one of my favorite books to date. The sequel, The Wicked King, set to come out in January is one of my most anticipated reads of 2019. Check out the sneak peak here 

Recommended for fans of: Six of Crows series by Leigh Bardugo

THE POPPY WAR by R.F. Kaung

 

download (5)

This was so good! i mean, i was in a slump and this totally got me through it. There was action, magic and anything you could ever want for a good fantasy book.

Recommended for fans of: The Young Elites series by Marie Lu

THE REAPER AT THE GATES by Sabaa Tahir

download (3)

After reading the first two books in the series, this was one of my most anticipated releases of the year..and boy, did it deliver! It was such a perfect addition to the series and just has me dying to know what is going to happen in the next book.

Recommended for fans of: Anyone who loves a good fantasy will love this

BRIGHT WE BURN by Kiersten White

download (4)

What an ending to one of my favorite series ever! Kiersten White truly did the series justice and gave us the perfect ending. If you haven’t read this series already, please start now.

Recommended for fans of: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

THE ASTONISHING COLOR OF AFTER by Emily X.R.Pan

download (12)

A beautiful book about dealing with loss of a loved one lost through suicide. This book really makes you feel the grief of the protagonist who was trying to understand why her mother killed herself. It makes you understand that some answers can’t really be found and that you aren’t responsible for someone choosing to take their own life. That was their decision.

Recommended for fans of: Contemporary books that make you feel something such as  Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S King

SMOKE IN THE SUN by Renee Ahdieh

download (7)

This was a good end to the Flame in the Mist duology. Though i preferred the first one, i enjoyed this one as well.

Recommended for fans of: Fantasy with romance and a kick-ass heroine as well.

Review: The Bear and the Nightingale

download (1)

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

Review: Sadie by Courtney Summers

downloady

This book in my opinion is Courtney Summers best book yet. I don’t think any of her other books left me in such a state after the ending as this one did. I honestly have no words to express my emotions. All i want to do is place a cover of protection over all children to save them from the terrible thing that happened to Sadie, her sister and a lot of other little girls who had no way to protect themselves. I also want to kill every person who has ever tried to sexually abuse, assault or rape anyone. I know my religion doesn’t condone violence, but i am just so angry. 

The story is about Sadie whose sister has been murdered and her journey to not just gain vengeance for her sister, but for anyone else who has been harmed the same way. 

The story alternates between the podcast The Girls which is the journey that is narrated by Wes McCray, who tries to find the truth about what happened to Sadie after getting a call from her grandmother and Sadie’s POV. It gives the reader more information about the people that Sadie left behind and how they dealt with her disappearance and gives more insight into her relationship with her sister, her mother and others 

The relationship between Sadie and Mattie ( her sister) broke my heart. As a girl with an older sister, it made me want to pull Sadie close and envelope her in a big hug. Her love for her sister had no limits and it wasn’t always appreciated, but it gave her a purpose and also someone who loved her back, something that her relationship with her mother lacked. In my opinion it was the most important part of the book. I could go on about for pages but I won’t. 

The characters were all complex and so… human. That stood out. How aspects of them are so alike to you and I. Even Claire, Sadie’s mother who I disliked at first, I grew more sympathetic towards when i heard her point of view. 

The writing was amazing and the idea of including the podcast as well is a great idea. It was engaging and I really cannot think of anyone better than Courtney Summers to write this story. 

Please don’t make the mistake of leaving this book on your ever growing pile of tbr books. Pick it up. Read it and try and prevent such things from happening. Especially women, as we are the most likely victims.

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