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!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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!

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

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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

 

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

Review: Sadie by Courtney Summers

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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

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“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

 

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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