Review: The Weight of Our Sky (Hanna Alkaf)

43121540.jpgGenre: Young Adult Historical Fiction
Publisher: 
Salaam Reads
Publication Date: 
February 5th 2019
Format:
Paperback
Source: 
Pansing Books
Page Count:
288

Blurb from Goodreads:

A music loving teen with OCD does everything she can to find her way back to her mother during the historic race riots in 1969 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in this heart-pounding literary debut.

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 djinn inside 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.


RATING

5 STARS!

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

Reading The Weight of Our Sky is just like returning home, to my roots. I have spent my entire life reading books which are foreign to me, delving into other people’s story that sometimes I find comfort and warmth in it.

I am very grateful that I am given a chance to read this homegrown masterpiece, a masterpiece that I can totally connect with. A gripping narrative that we, Malaysians are always reminded of, that I am ashamed of myself for not knowing about the significant and true history behind the  May 13 1969 tragedy.

The dark chapter of Malaysian history is told by a sixteen year old girl named Melati who finds joy in listening to Paul McCartney’s The Beatles. When she faces such life or death situation, she is forced to fight her inner demons that pushes her to the core.

The book is brutally honest and undeniably heavy to read, with such taboo issues discussed such as racism that leads to the tragedy. This book is so unapologetically Malaysian—I love all of the references that Hanna introduces to the readers, from the diverse people who consists of Malay, Chinese, Indians and Sikhs, the speeches and dialects, food that never fails to make me drool to the superstitious believes that people back then used to and still believed in.

“Allahu akbar!” they yell. “Allahu akbar!” And for a moment I am struck by how strange it is to proclaim the greatness of God, a phrase we say over and over again in prayer five time a day, while doing their best to destroy His creations.

What I love about this book that it does not only set during the riots, it is also a book about anxiety and OCD. The constant tapping rituals that the main character does continuously to please the djinn inside her is something very different from I have read before about OCD and at the same time, very sad. Due to the alternatives provided and stigmatization of mental health issues during that time, people diagnosed with mental illness are often forced to consult witch doctors to spiritually heal themselves. To see that Hanna writes this mental illness subject with such attention through Melati’s point of view touches my heart the most.

“Di mana bumi dipijak, di situ langit dijunjung. It means where we plant our feet is where we must hold up the sky. We live and die by the rules of the land we live in. But this country belongs to all of us! We make our own sky, and we can hold it up—together.”

The Weight of Our Sky reminds us about a piece of the past that we should never forget and also a random act of kindness can result in great things.

Thank you Hanna for writing this masterpiece that we can call it home! 

Special thanks to Pansing Books for providing me this review copy in exchange of an honest review! 

X

Sabrina

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Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (J.K. Rowling)

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Blurb from Goodreads:

Harry has been burdened with a dark, dangerous and seemingly impossible task: that of locating and destroying Voldemort’s remaining Horcruxes. Never has Harry felt so alone, or faced a future so full of shadows. But Harry must somehow find within himself the strength to complete the task he has been given. He must leave the warmth, safety and companionship of The Burrow and follow without fear or hesitation the inexorable path laid out for him.


RATING

5 SPARKLING STARS!

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

Most seventeen-year olds do not even have a clue on what to do in their lives after school, but Harry Potter has got his life predicted by a prophecy, and there is no way of turning back.

In this book, J.K. Rowling has given us answers upon answers about the mysteries and problems since the first book of the series. I love how complex and complicated the series are, with more characters who are introduced in the book and more emotional and action-packed stories. This is truly not a story that you can create in a span of a night, this requires major plotting and crafting within years to complete! J.K. Rowling is such a genius.

Every time I want to reread this, I feel a surge of trauma inside of my mind because I totally sense how Harry is facing in this book. It truly shows how affected I am with the main character of the book, it tells that I am deeply attached to Harry. However this time, I want to overcome that fear and after all, I just want to finish my whole Harry Potter reread for the year.

It is crazy that I have spent so much time reading the books, watching the movies and listening to the audiobooks by Stephen Fry for me to immerse in the Wizarding World again. No other series in the world will make me feel good and better than what Harry Potter does to me. I am happy that this series is dearly loved by all and it makes it more wonderful to share the experience with others.

The Prince’s Tale and King’s Cross chapters are my favourite chapters in the book. I love how all their detailed plans come to a conclusion and make sense at the end.

There are many references on Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them series, one of it is about Ariana’s condition which is said that she is indeed an obscurus – a manifestation of the repressed energy of a magical child. In light of the recent events in Crimes of Grindlewald, I am excited to see how things will reveal in the next movie, since it is stated that Credence Barebone, who is also an obscurus, is Albus Dumbledore’s long-lost brother, Aurelius Dumbledore, which in my opinion doesn’t make sense at all.

There are many profound quotes that I am attracted to, most of them are from my favourite character, Albus Dumbledore. 

“Where your treasure is, there will be your heart also.”

“Perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it” – Albus Dumbledore

“Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and, above all, those who live without love.” – Albus Dumbledore

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” – Albus Dumbledore

What I truly love about this series is between the thousands of pages and millions of words in the series, many topics and discussions on life are covered in the book such as race and racism, hate, ignorance, arrogance, power and influence of the media, slavery, dictatorship, revolution, feminism, depression, death, loss, equality, love, and lastly, the value of friendship. It is no question that this series can impact the world so deeply. It changes the perspective on how we view life. It is fulfilling that we have seen these topics in our real life situations happen to the world now. Reading can change the world!

This is not an in-depth review of the technicalities of the book, this is my view of the book and the series as a whole. No words can really describe how thankful I am to have the chance to read Harry Potter for the past years.

J.K. Rowling writes a gripping ending to Harry Potter’s farewell that leaves the fans pleased yet craved for more!

But it is not really a farewell isn’t it?

My review for:

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

X

Sabrina

ARC Review: How to Make Friends with the Dark (Kathleen Glasgow)

40755416.jpgGenre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publisher: 
Rock the Boat
Publication Date: 
April 11th 2019
Format:
ARC Paperback
Source: 
Times Reads
Page Count:
422

Blurb from Goodreads:

Here is what happens when your mother dies.

It’s the brightest day of summer and it’s dark outside. It’s dark in your house, dark in your room, and dark in your heart. You feel like the darkness is going to split you apart.

That’s how it feels for Tiger. It’s always been Tiger and her mother against the world. Then, on a day like any other, Tiger’s mother dies. And now it’s Tiger, alone.

Here is how you learn to make friends with the dark.


RATING

4.8 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW

This is my first time reading Kathleen Glasgow’s book and I can truly say this book is stunningly written. The moment I receive it I know that this is going to be a rough and emotional read for me. I am actually surprised that this is YA contemporary, because the only thing in the book that is YA is the main character who is sixteen-year-old named Tiger while the topics covered are very heavy and so intense that trigger warnings should be clarified at the beginning.

This book teaches us about grief and loss of our loved ones and how to find ourselves back after facing such tremendous loss. Every time I start a new chapter in the book, my heart aches for Tiger so much because she has so many new and scary things to face yet she does not have her loved ones besides her. I love Kathleen’s writing, by the she uses figurative language to amplify about Tiger’s journey finding herself to make it more effective and impactful to the reader.

Kathleen writes a harsh yet realistic exploration of pain and sadness in a voice who tries to find her own connotation after losing a loved one. How to Make Friends with the Dark truly taught me how painful and excruciating it is to deal with the consequences and reality of having a dead parent, something that I would never comprehend. Kathleen knows how to touch our hearts with Tiger’s story so well. I find myself heartbroken while reading Tiger’s obstacles surviving her life, and laugh at jokes and moments that are hilarious in the book. There are many strong statements in the book that I find to be meaningful, it goes something like; “Sometimes you need to open yourself to the possibility of the miraculous, even though life is harsh to us.”

I am extremely moved by the Author’s Note section. Part of the story is based on the author’s mother and most of it is based on the status of children in America. Not all kids have safe home lives. There are kids who are in foster care, kids who are homeless and kids who have incarcerated parents. Therefore, it is important for us to engage with these children, emotionally and mentally. Open discussion about mental health and depression must be done to help our youngsters. I love it when the book acknowledges websites that can be helpful to those who are in need for instance Suicide Prevention Lifeline, Grief Resources for Teens and Child Welfare.

Thank you Times Reads for providing me this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

X

Sabrina

 

ARC Review: I Owe You One (Sophie Kinsella)

43462771.jpgGenre: Adult Fiction
Publisher: Bantam Press
Publication Date: February 7th 2019
Format: ARC Paperback
Source: Times Reads
Page Count: 374

Blurb from Goodreads:

The irresistible new standalone from Sophie Kinsella is a story of love, empowerment and an IOU that changes everything . . .

Fixie Farr can’t help herself. Straightening a crooked object, removing a barely-there stain, helping out a friend . . . she just has to put things right. It’s how she got her nickname, after all.

So when a handsome stranger in a coffee shop asks her to watch his laptop for a moment, Fixie not only agrees, she ends up saving it from certain disaster. To thank her, the computer’s owner, Sebastian, scribbles her an IOU – but of course Fixie never intends to call in the favour.

That is, until her teenage crush, Ryan, comes back into her life and needs her help – and Fixie turns to Seb. But things don’t go according to plan, and now Fixie owes Seb: big time.

Soon the pair are caught up in a series of IOUs – from small favours to life-changing debts – and Fixie is torn between the past she’s used to and the future she deserves.

Does she have the courage to fix things for herself and fight for the life, and love, she really wants?


RATING

4 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

This is actually my first time reading a Sophie Kinsella book and I am very excited to read it! I have read so many good reviews about the Shopaholic series so it is a great start to read her latest book.

I don’t usually gravitate towards Adult Fiction that much because of my interest consisting of reading Young Adult books only. However, I don’t actually have any problems reading this as the characters in the book are very easy-going and relatable at the same time.

I love reading about family businesses because it is interesting to see how each of the family members play a role in managing it. You can see that family don’t always agree to each other on decision-making stuffs hence it is their duty to convince and persuade why it is a good or bad idea to agree on something.

The important message from the book is that family can be tough sometimes. It takes great courage to stand to our enemies, but just as much to stand to our family. It is an unbearable thought to criticise our own family members, the idea of breaking the family bond seems terrifying.

I love the main character, Fixie with her love interest, Sebastian. I love all of the scenes when they are together and it shows that they are a perfect match. I hate reading parts where Fixie’s siblings are such unbearable and unhelpful characters ever. I find myself similar to Fixie, I grow attach to a person so quickly and if things go wrong, I will just move on from the scene. I love when Fixie discovers her true self, where she evolves from a shy and timid person to someone who can stand up for herself.

The characters have such interesting lives and problems that they face and I learn a lot of lessons from their adulting journey. The romance is so good that it is one of my favourite things from the book. I wish I have read Sophie Kinsella’s book sooner because her writing is so good and I am totally missing out now!

Thank you Times Reads for providing me this gorgeous review copy of I Owe You One!

X

Sabrina

 

Review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (J.K. Rowling)

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Blurb from Goodreads:

“You are sharing the Dark Lord’s thoughts and emotions. The Headmaster thinks it inadvisable for this to continue. He wishes me to teach you how to close your mind to the Dark Lord.”

Dark times have come to Hogwarts. After the Dementors’ attack on his cousin Dudley, Harry Potter knows that Voldemort will stop at nothing to find him. There are many who deny the Dark Lord’s return, but Harry is not alone: a secret order gathers at Grimmauld Place to fight against the Dark forces. Harry must allow Professor Snape to teach him how to protect himself from Voldemort’s savage assaults on his mind. But they are growing stronger by the day and Harry is running out of time…


RATING

5 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

This is a my second reread, the last time I read the Order of the Phoenix was in 2016, it was a long time ago and I could not remember much about the book.

Honestly this book was the hardest for me to read. It’s not about the length, it’s about the content of the book. It is very dark and gloomy, different from the other books in the series. I personally think that even Half-Blood Prince is not so dark and heavy like this book, as it is known that this book shows that true state of Harry throughout the series, as he struggles to find his identity as a person, yet he feels so alone despite having many friends beside him.

I take many breaks from reading the book, because some parts are unbearable to even read and let alone imagine the things that Harry and friends face in Hogwarts. I contemplate to ditch the book for a while because I cannot stand the heat but I manage to finish it nonetheless.

It is emotionally uplifting to read that the Order of the Phoenix members work their way to defeat Voldemort and the Death Eaters. They risk their lives to save their loved ones and to bring justice for the vanquished. I love the scenes in the Grimmauld Place because I feel complete reading about them gathering together at one place. Even though it is not the wonderful and whimsical “The Burrow”, the people are the heart and soul, not the house.

The most outstanding part of the book is the theme. It is no longer the lovey dovey endings and stories like the previous books. There are many difficult lessons to be learned that even a child could not comprehend the meaning behind it. This book introduces us to the grey shade of life, where there is no white or black, true or false in life, as what Sirius Black had said,

“Besides, the world isn’t split into good people and Death Eaters. We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.”

God I love that quote.

This story also taught that adults are not always the perfect protectors for the younger ones. They think by not sharing any information to them will spare and protect their lives. At the end of the day, they just want the best for them.

I also would like to highlight Harry’s wellbeing in this story. He suffers from PTSD, as we can confer from his angst behaviour after his confrontation with Voldemort and Cedric’ death. It is never explicitly stated in the book about him having PTSD, but he definitely suffers from the trauma. I find the angst to be relatable with me being a growing teenager before.

Harry also shown to have imposter syndrome in the book when he doubts his accomplishments when retrieving the Philosopher’s stone, saving Ginny in the Chamber of Secrets, performing the Patronus Charm to the Dementors and his capability in doing the tasks in Triwizard Tournament. He thinks that he gets through all of that by sheer luck.

One of my most hated scenes is the Ministy’s reaction towards Voldemort’s return at the introduction of the book. They are totally in denial of that situation and they are against people who agree that Voldemort is back. The Ministry is definitely the one that is truly responsible  for Voldemort to return as they are being complacent for ONE YEAR and that is enough time for them to rise up again! I could never forgive Fudge and Umbridge for doing such, they have done so much damage that is unacceptable.

The book has so much meaning to the series as a whole, as the content of the prophecy is told by Dumbledore and yet it pains me to say that this is my least favourite of the series. I enjoy reading it thoroughly but I feel tremendously sad for Harry for what had happened in the book.

My review for:

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

I look forward to re-read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows after this!

X

Sabrina

 

Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (J.K. Rowling)

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Blurb from Goodreads:

It is Harry Potter’s sixth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. As Voldemort’s sinister forces amass and a spirit of gloom and fear sweeps the land, it becomes more and more clear to Harry that he will soon have to confront his destiny. But is he up to the challenges ahead of him?

In her darkest and most breathtaking adventure yet, J.K. Rowling skilfully begins to unravel the complex web she has woven, as we discover more of the truth about Harry, Dumbledore, Snape and, of course, He Who Must Not Be Named


 

RATINGS

5 SHINING STARS ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

I think y’all are sleeping on this book! After rereading the series for five times already, it is true that Half-Blood Prince is the most underrated book. I mean, it is the most crucial book when it comes to Voldemort’s life discovery and weaknesses. Even JK Rowling admitted that Deathly Hallows completely overshadows Half-Blood Prince since Half-Blood Prince is the key and paves the way for the events from Deathly Hallows to happen. It shapes the way to Hogwarts’ victory.

I also notice some changes in my reading favourites to my reading patterns throughout the years of rereading. During my younger years of reading Harry Potter, I tend to devour and enjoy the first three books more compared to others because in my opinion, they are very much carefree and fun to read since the characters are also young kids and they are relatable to me. I think that the books are also easy to comprehend since they are not so much dark related activities going on and simpler to read.18423227

However now, as I grow older, I appreciate the few last books dearly. It is because as a reader, I grow mature along the years with the characters as well. I understand how complex and complicated their feelings and wants can be. I comprehend their problems because it feels relatable to me. I grow attach to them since it is the only series that I grow up reading with.

“It is the unknown we fear when we look upon death and darkness, nothing more.”

Every time writing Harry Potter reviews, I would never expect to write such sentimental and emotional reviews. But when I am writing it down, all of the emotions based on my reading experience start pouring in and I will just go with the flow. It is heartwarming to come back to the world after so long leaving it. It has been a tradition to me which I will read the series annually, as a symbol that this is the series that is responsible in nurturing and shaping my life now. I cannot imagine my life without Harry Potter.

Since it is my favourite book, I would like to share my favourite scenes in the book, which may or may not be in the film.

If you haven’t read this, don’t read below if you don’t want to be spoiled.


  1. Confrontation between the Muggle and Magic prime minister.
  2.  Back at The Burrow
  3. Harry has been appointed as Quidditch Captain
  4. Fred and George made it big with their business
  5. Funny moments with the Slug Club
  6. Flashbacks of Voldemort’s past – the coolest scene in the book
  7. When Harry saved Ron when he was poisoned
  8. All of the Dumbledore and Harry’s discussion and meetings together

To end my review or rather my expression towards Harry Potter, this series has brought joy that I cannot explain to you with words. It has been an enormous roller coaster journey experiencing the Wizarding World, never again we will be able to read a series that is life-changing like Harry Potter. Now that Fantastic Beasts is debuting to the world, I really hope that it will do justice to Harry Potter. We have only seen two movies from the franchise so it is hard for me to judge the films entirely. I honestly cannot wait to watch the rest of it!

My review for:

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Thanks for reading.

X

Sabrina

 

Review: Archenemies (Marissa Meyer)

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Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
Publisher: 
Macmillan Children’s Book
Publication Date: 
November 15th 2018
Format: 
Paperback
Source: 
Pansing Books
Page Count:
474

Blurb from Goodreads:

Part thriller, part superhero fantasy, here is the fiercely awaited sequel to the New York Times-bestselling Renegades by Marissa Meyer, author of the Lunar Chronicles.

Are Nova and Adrian each other’s worst nightmare?

In Renegades, Nova and Adrian (aka Insomnia and Sketch) fought the battle of their lives against the Anarchist known as the Detonator. It was a short-lived victory.

The Anarchists still have a secret weapon, one that Nova believes will protect her. The Renegades also have a strategy for overpowering the Anarchists, but both Nova and Adrian understand that it could mean the end of Gatlon City – and the world – as they know it.


RATING

3.5 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

Okay now that I have finished reading this, I am glad to say that Archenemies is slightly better than the first book, Renegades.

Even though it progresses late, it is easier for me to read and understand the world since I have finished reading Renegades. The pace picks up after a few chapters and that is where all the drama starts and establishes.

The plot however, is very uncertain for me to say the least. While reading I am not sure what really is the main story here in the book – what we know is only the main character’s motivation for vengeance. Some parts are very much repetitive without no progression – like the main character’s aim to attack the villains (in her own opinion) with the lack of conviction and breakthroughs. There are many filler chapters that are not needed and can be cut off from the book. While reading I have this feeling of wanting to get rid of these filler chapters as soon as possible because I cannot stand reading a book without any progress. Slow is the proper word for this book. I cannot believe that the main protagnists still haven’t revealed their own identities in this second book to each other, and that shows how the third book will tell more on that part. I am also interested to see how the reaction of the entire Renegades when they know their true identity.

The only thing that is good is about the progress at the end of the book. I am relieved that things are getting serious and intense with the main character’s part in getting revenge. I am scared and at the same time, confused with what the final book will become. Is it going to be as bad as the first book or good? Fingers crossed that the book will be great because I spend so much time reading this 1000 word-series.

This book also discusses about grey areas, for instance on how we are supposed to react  to a situation or problem when the rules are not clear. The protagonist will surely have a hard time deciding what she is going to do towards her enemies in the final book, knowing that she has become so close with them.

I am still going to give a chance for this series, because I love Marissa Meyer and I still hope this series is going to be great!

Now that we have know the title of the third book, which is Supernova. I like that the title relates to the name of our protagonist, Nova and I am sure the book will tell us deeply on her journey in finding vengeance to the villains. I cannot wait to finish the series and finally give my thoughts on the series as a whole.

Thank you Pansing for providing me this copy!

X

Sabrina