Down the Infinite Spiral: a Review of Turtles All The Way Down by John Green

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Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publisher: Penguin
Publication date: October 10th, 2017
Format: Hardback
Source: Personal
Page Count: 286

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Blurb:
It all begins with a fugitive billionaire and the promise of a cash reward. Turtles All the Way Down is about lifelong friendship, the intimacy of an unexpected reunion, Star Wars fan fiction, and tuatara. But at its heart is Aza Holmes, a young woman navigating daily existence within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

In his long-awaited return, John Green shares Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity.

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“Anybody can look at you. It’s quite rare to find someone who sees the same world you see.” 

Turtles All The Way Down was one of my anticipated reads for fall. I was super stoked when I heard John Green was going to publish a new book, 7 years after The Fault in Our Stars was published. I know John Green can be a hit or miss when it comes to his books. My favourites from him were The Fault in Our Stars, Will Grayson Will Grayson, and An Abundance of Katherines while the rest of his books were lukewarm for me. So naturally I felt a bit apprehensive for Turtles All The Way Down.

I think it’s safe to say how much I enjoyed Turtles All The Way Down! That said, I think this book may have been better suited to be categorized in General Fiction rather than Young Adult just for the sake of gaining more audience to such an important topic. The vibe I felt while finishing this book was so deep and meaningful that I think adults would have enjoyed it just as much as young adults. But I totally understand why this book was solely for young adults. Mental health is such a big issue that’s slowly gaining more awareness through important books such as Turtles All The Way Down. And getting more young adults to read books like these and know they’re not alone is very important.

Ultimately Turtles All The Way Down is about a 16-year-old girl, Aza, who has anxiety and OCD. She experiences psychic pains in her thoughts where she feels she can’t escape them, thus resulting in obsessive behaviour such as cleaning a wound on her finger and reapplying Band-Aid several times a day in an attempt to control these possessive thoughts she has.

Turtles All The Way Down doesn’t really have a plot and that whole “chasing a billionaire fugitive” is just a backstory for Aza and her mental health condition. We get into Aza’s head a lot so don’t expect any phenomenal character development or even a great cast of characters because that’s not what Turtles All The Way Down is about.

“The worst part of being truly alone is you think about all the times you wished that everyone would just leave you be. Then they do, and you are left being, and you turn out to be terrible company.” 

This book is hands down disturbing. But it is necessarily so. Not many people can understand the anxiety of psychic pains in which we have no control over. I have had experiences with anxiety back in college, but I choose not to disclose it here. All I want to say is, it is difficult to explain to people how lonely it gets when your thoughts take control of your self of being to the point you have no idea what to do next. And reading about Aza and her possessive thoughts help us a little in understanding what a difficult experience that is.

“One of the challenges with pain–physical or psychic–is that we can really only approach it through metaphor. It can’t be represented the way table or a body can. In some ways, pain is the opposite of language.”

Having said that, I found it so easy to read Turtles All The Way Down because I could relate to Aza so much. And why it’s so important to understand that sometimes your thoughts are not entirely your own. How do you be yourself when it’s a person you don’t like being and have no control over?

Turtles All The Way Down faces the underlying issue of how anxiety can be so easily concealed in the public eye. We see Aza’s friends knowing little of her condition but not understanding it entirely. They don’t ask what it’s like for her and how does it hurt. They assume she’s selfish and overreacting when they don’t know what it’s really like inside her head and how terrifying those thought processes are.

“True terror isn’t being scared; it’s not having a choice on the matter.” 

Nothing is really straight forward in Turtles All The Way Down and I like how this is so representative of living with mental health conditions. The friendship between Aza and Davis feels so incomplete and lacking. But I think from the beginning it was made obvious that this novel isn’t really about love. Or even about friends and family. It’s about Aza and her own self. So kudos to John Green for not romanticizing mental health!

Turtles All The Way Down is not your typical YA book, and I love it the more so because of it. It’s raw and honest, and being an #OwnVoices book in which John Green opens up about his experience with anxiety gives Turtles All The Way Down an added reason to be read. This book can be heavy and a bit slow in some parts, but I have enjoyed every page that comes with it.

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Overall, this book has made it to one of my favourite John Green’s writings. And naturally, you are going to come across reviews on how cliche his philosophical proses are (much so like The Fault in Our Stars) and how cheesy his characters seem to be, but do at least consider reading Turtles All The Way Down if you want something different from the YA Contemporary shelf. And be prepared to enter Aza’s head….

“The problem with happy endings is that they’re either not really happy, or not really endings, you know? In real life, some things get better and some things get worse. And then eventually you die.” 

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Secrets Burned to the Ground: a Review of Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

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Genre: General Fiction
Publisher: Little Brown Book Group
Publication date: September 7th, 2017
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing Malaysia
Page Count: 336

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Blurb:

Everyone in Shaker Heights was talking about it that summer: how Isabelle, the last of the Richardson children, had finally gone around the bend and burned the house down.

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is meticulously planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colours of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principal is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother- who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than just tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the alluring mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past, and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When the Richardsons’ friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town and puts Mia and Mrs. Richardson on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Mrs. Richardson becomes determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs to her own family – and Mia’s.

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“Sometimes you need to scorch everything to the ground, and start over. After the burning the soil is richer, and new things can grow. People are like that, too. They start over. They find a way.” 

When I finished this book last night, I was speechless. I’ve heard so many rave reviews about this book from so many influential people in the book blogosphere (notably Reese Witherspoon’s RW Book Club!) So you can imagine how excited I was to receive a copy to review.

Little Fires Everywhere is such an apt novel that centers around complex family dynamics, small town politics and complicated mother-daughter relationships. It also deals with the question of what it means to really love through sacrifice, sheer will and fierce determination to do the right thing.

Little Fires Everywhere is my first Celeste Ng novel. I’ve always wanted to read Everything I Never Told You but never got around to it. Now I’m mentally kicking myself in the back for missing out on it because Ng’s writing is so amazingly well done. It’s the sort of writing that tethers you for hours before plunging you into an abyss that you willingly dive into. It’s so subtle in building that world and characters inside your head that by the end of the book, you’ll be left wanting more of it.

I don’t want to give too much away of the story line because I think Little Fires Everywhere is best read without knowing too much about it. We see friendships develop between the teenage kids of the Richardsons and Warrens and with an external POV, we really get to know each character more closely. I love the brilliant play of secrets from the past which impacts the present families and newfound secrets.

The characters are uniquely written in Little Fires Everywhere where each one struggles with being brought up a certain way and finding the right passage to be their selves unapologetically. We have Mia Warren is a single mom whose life passion as a photographer has taken her and Pearl, her daughter, across the states. And then her complete opposite is Elena Richardson, with her perfect 4 children settled in Shaker Heights, always following the rules and living an ideal suburban life. 2 very different mothers with different ways of raising their children but in the end, the book questions a lot what it takes to become the right mother for your children. And whether you get a second chance at being a great mother.

“It came, over and over, down to this: What made someone a mother? Was it biology alone, or was it love?” 

Little Fires Everywhere has the power to pull and tug you in so many different directions. You can’t help but to feel strongly for Mia as her story unfolds in the book, but you also appreciate Elena and how strongly she feels about doing the “right” thing for her household. The title of the book is so well-suited because in each character you meet in Little Fires Everywhere, there is a fire within them that you can unmistakably identify with. Every character is so profound and impactful towards the book’s unbelievably strong presence.

“Most of the time, everyone deserves more than one chance. We all do things we regret now and then. You just have to carry them with you.”

Overall, Little Fires Everywhere is one of my favourite reads of 2017. Its rich content in family dynamics, complex characters and fierce motherly love is portrayed so well in this book. It’s rare to find a book that made me wish there was more to that ending. A highly recommended read from me!

Have you read this and what did you think about it?

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A Story That Tugs You Northward: a Review of The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

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Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Knope
Publication date: 1995
Format: Paperback
Source: Penguin Random House Malaysia
Page Count: 399

Series: His Dark Materials #1

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Blurb:
What Lyra likes best is “clambering over the College roofs with Roger the kitchen boy who was her particular friend, to spit plum stones on the heads of passing Scholars or to hoot like owls outside a window where a tutorial was going on, or racing through the narrow streets, or stealing apples from the market, or waging war.”

But Lyra’s carefree existence changes forever when she and her daemon, Pantalaimon, first prevent an assassination attempt against her uncle, the powerful Lord Asriel, and then overhear a secret discussion about a mysterious entity known as Dust.

Soon she and Pan are swept up in a dangerous game involving disappearing children, a beautiful woman with a golden monkey daemon, a trip to the far north, and a set of allies ranging from “gyptians“ to witches to an armor-clad polar bear.

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“We are all subject to the fates. But we must act as if we are not, or die of despair.” 

The Golden Compass is definitely a unique and interesting first installment to the highly-acclaimed His Dark Materials Trilogy. I’ve heard of this series for a while now and with the excitement surrounding The Book of Dust coming out on 19th October, there’s a lot of hype surrounding the original series. The Book of Dust is set in the world of His Dark Materials, so I’m pretty excited to start this series.

Right off the bat I have to say this fantasy series crosses between both young adult and adult fantasy genres. The way the story skips from childish language to subliminal messages buried within the plot was nothing short of amazing. While this may throw off some people as the writing style switches every so often, I personally found that this trait adds to the book’s appeal. Sure it was frustrating at times to read about an extensive description of a scene, but to have a precocious child like Lyra Balacqua simplify everything afterward helped a lot. So a fair warning to future readers: the writing can get long-winded and very descriptive (just like adult fantasy reads tend to do), but if you can get used to that sort of writing, then you’ll enjoy the plot and group of characters in The Golden Compass.

Speaking of characters, there was nothing short in the supply of characters written in this book. From armored bears, fierce and loyal Gyptians, to endearing daemons who are the reflections to a human soul, you’ll find something to love in each character. The only problem I had was the lack of depth the characters seem to have, asides from Lyra of course. While it was enjoyable to follow her plight to the North, I wish the other characters were written with more depth. I would have loved to know more background on Mrs Coulter and Lord Asriel, and also more on Farder Coram and John Faa. I would have appreciated to have known where they originated and their intentions by the end of the book. Sure a couple of the characters’ persona were greatly revealed at the end of the book, but some were left hanging and I’m hoping they get more attention in the sequels.

On the other hand, the plot was very well written in my opinion. There have been countless discussions surrounding His Dark Materials and its subliminal messages about anti-Christianity or anti-organized religion for that matter. But you can definitely enjoy this book despite whatever faith you hold. The plot did get draggy in the first 200 pages but it picked up pretty quickly afterwards. We got to see Lyra quick and brilliant mind in saving the children from the North. We also got to see who (or what) these daemons really are and what they represent by the end of the book. There were a lot of unexpected twists and turns that gripped my attention. And while some scenes were very short-lived, I believe there is much potential in this series for the sequel to make up for.

On a side note, the fact that this book has been reviewed many times for its religious (or anti-religious) themes have been fascinating. I’ve become a bit obsessed in reading reviews about the book and the movie adaptation from other readers, Christians and non-Christians alike. Though no Biblical scenes were explicitly written about in this book, a certain religious conversation at the end of the book will leave you thinking what the author is trying to present through his characters.

I was a bit surprised to discover that this book was written for children when it would have suited more matured readers with its deep embedded messages. But I assure you as children with much simpler minds, they will still be able to enjoy this book for its great cast of characters and the amazing plot. Asides from that, I leave it up to you to read more on the religious themes set within the book yourself.

But let me just say, when I figured out the roles of daemons, Dust and Lord Asriel in their connection to the entire plot, things got a whole lot more impressive.

“Human beings can’t see anything without wanting to destroy it. That’s original sin. And I’m going to destroy it. Death is going to die.” 

Overall, I enjoyed The Golden Compass. Though a lot of descriptions and draggy plots were involved, I believe it was necessary to build the world of parallels for the sequels to take place in.

Have you read this trilogy and what did you think about it?

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Thank you Penguin Random House Malaysia for providing a copy in exchange of an honest review!

Nerd-On-Nerd Love: a Review of The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

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Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication date: March 31st, 2015
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing Malaysia
Page Count: 416

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Blurb:

Brimming with heartfelt relationships and authentic high-school dynamics The Start of Me and You proves that it’s never too late for second chances.


It’s been a year since it happened—when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for two years, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school . . . and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her—the perfect way to convince everyone she’s back to normal. Next: Join a club—simple, it’s high school after all. But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live?

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“Knowing what happens is different from knowing how it happens. And the getting there is the best part.” 

The Start of Me and You is my second Emery Lord novel. And as much as I enjoyed The Names They Gave Us, I didn’t expect to enjoy The Start of Me and You! I knew it was about teenage love in the face of grief and post-traumatic experiences, but I never expected to find Paige and Max along with their group of friends to be likable and relatable.

The Start of Me and You is a story about second chances, finding love in the most unexpected places and moving forward following a life-changing tragedy. While I didn’t have that big of a circle of friends in school or college to help me deal with life like Paige did, the lives this close circle of friends led were filled with many relatable experiences from love and relationships to anxiety and insecurity. I found each character having a strong presence in Paige’s life with their own unique personalities. Though they sometimes come off as superficial without much depth into their life, if you don’t mind focusing just on Paige then you’d really enjoy reading this book. The story focuses solely on Paige and in a way that allows us to connect with her.

Paige is your typical 16-year-old high school student who wants to find herself back again after the death of her boyfriend in a drowning incident. Little does she know, Max, the nerdy cousin of her long-time crush, will bring new light into her life and make her see that second chances appear in the most unexpected places.

“Ryan Chase was my eighth-grade collage, aspirational and wide-eyed. But Max was the first bite of grilled cheese on a snowy day, the easy fit of my favorite jeans, that one old song that made it onto every playlist. Peanut-butter Girl Scout cookies instead of an ornate cake. Not glamorous or idealized or complicated. Just me.”

It was no surprise at how the ending of The Start of Me and You went. This book is cliche and fluffy but filled with so many feel-good scenes that keeps you rooting for Paige and Max. I’ve been having the most hectic working month ever and this book was such a sweet respite for it. I may not be in a relationship but I love reading feel-good love stories with positive characterizations seen in Paige and Max’s friendship. There’s something so sweet and innocent in high school romances, especially when two nerds fall in love. Because God forbid, I cannot stand ditzy/bimbo-ish characters in YA novels falling in love.

But The Start of Me and You is more than just these two falling in love. It’s about Paige learning to move on after Aaron’s death and realising that while it’s not a smooth-sailing ride, it’s her ride and she has the power to persevere anything that comes her way. How strong she came out by the end of The Start of Me and You was very inspiring and I’ve always loved books with such positive representation of growing up.

The only thing I felt off about this whole book was Max’s portrayal as the nerdy but confident cousin to heartthrob Ryan Chase. I wish we had more of Max to read into, what he was like before he went to Coventry, what he went through in terms of bullying etc. But the Max we know, and eventually fall in love with, is this tall, confident guy who loves sci-fi cult classics and so happens to be great at quoting Jane Austen’s novels. Oh and he also have the moves. I have yet to meet someone like Max, but to be so confident at only 17, Max Watson is one very rare character in all of YA history. It’s people like Max Watson that leads us to have unrealistic fictional crushes and have unrealistic expectations because no guy is like Max Watson. Haha!

But overall, I loved The Start of Me and You and cannot wait for the sequel, The Map From Here to There coming in 2019. I want to see more Paige and Max and the rest of the gang in senior year. I want to see more positive relationship representation in YA because I feel it’s so important to be comfortable in one at such a young age. You’re more vulnerable but it could all be so much worth it.

“I know it’s difficult to bare your heart, but it’s the least stupid thing in the world.” 

Have you read this book and what did you think about it?

 

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Thank you Pansing Malaysia for providing a copy in exchange of an honest review!

A Love so Sharp and Cutting: a Review of Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

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Genre:
Fantasy, Young Adult
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication date: September 5th, 2017
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing Malaysia
Page Count: 384

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Blurb:
Frozen meets The Bloody Chamber in this feminist fantasy reimagining of the Snow White fairytale

At sixteen, Mina’s mother is dead, her magician father is vicious, and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone—has never beat at all, in fact, but she’d always thought that fact normal. She never guessed that her father cut out her heart and replaced it with one of glass. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees its king for the first time, Mina forms a plan: win the king’s heart with her beauty, become queen, and finally know love. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother.

Fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother, and one day she discovers why: a magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s order. But despite being the dead queen made flesh, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. She gets her wish when her father makes Lynet queen of the southern territories, displacing Mina. Now Mina is starting to look at Lynet with something like hatred, and Lynet must decide what to do—and who to be—to win back the only mother she’s ever known…or else defeat her once and for all.

Entwining the stories of both Lynet and Mina in the past and present, Girls Made of Snow and Glass traces the relationship of two young women doomed to be rivals from the start. Only one can win all, while the other must lose everything—unless both can find a way to reshape themselves and their story.

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I was very excited upon receiving an ARC of Girls Made of Snow and Glass. I didn’t know much about it and there hasn’t been much reviews up when I got the book. But I have seen some excitement surrounding it and decided to go in blindly. I was aware that Girls Made of Snow and Glass is a Snow White retelling and while Snow White is my least favourite Disney princess, I was still excited to read this.

Girls Made of Snow and Glass brings us on a journey of two brilliant and strong female characters: Mina, the Whitespring Queen who happens to be Lynet’s stepmother. You’ll find similarities in Girls Made of Snow and Glass to Snow White. For example, references to mirrors and apples are frequently made. And the Hunstman that freed Snow White when he was supposed to kill her also makes and appearance. But unlike the originial story, he plays a much bigger role in this book.

“You’ll find something that’s yours alone. And when you do, don’t let anyone take it from you…”

I love how much depth Girls Made of Snow and Glass contained. I’ve always loved fairy tale retellings, because it allows us to think back on the definition of ‘evil’ and ‘wickedness’. The battle between good and bad has always been crystal clear in myths and fairy tales. But with retellings, you just never know who’s the real villain in the story.

And that is what’s so great about Girls Made of Snow and Glass. We get to see more of the evil stepmother and her roots before becoming Queen. What really happened to her that turned her into the heartless figure we’ve all known from Snow White? And is she really as evil as she’s made out to be?

All these questions gets answered in Girls Made of Snow and Glass on top of us getting more action from Lynet. She’s definitely the opposite of Snow White. She started out delicate, fragile and soft in the beginning, but her development throughout the book is just plain awesome.

I have so much love for these 2 characters. While most fantasy books have two women in power fighting each other, Girls Made of Snow and Glass shows us just how possible it is for 2 strong women to support and love one another. And their journey in achieving that trust and support was truly well written. This is one of the most feministic fantasy books I have ever read, and I admit we need more of this character positivity in the world. We need women everywhere to know that we should stand by each other, not tear one another apart for power.

On top of that, the ideology of true love and what it means gets addressed so well in this book. Mina who’s been chasing after love for so long will soon realise where true love resides and how Lynet plays a part in in it. Too often many of us believe that love only resides in relationships and Prince Charming. But Girls Made of Snow and Glass shows us that love can easily be found, if we see the beauty in each person instead of the bad.

“Weak or strong – she didn’t know what they meant anymore. Maybe they didn’t mean the same thing for everyone…”

Overall, a brilliant fairy tale retelling that will make you see the original story in a whole new light. With a brilliant new cast of characters and more magical scenes, Girls Made of Snow and Glass is a read not to be missed!

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Thank you Pansing Malaysia for providing a copy in exchange of an honest review!

Modern Hijabis and Chickadees: a Review of Saints and Misfits by S. K. Ali

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Genre:
Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Salaam Reads
Publication date: June 13th, 2017
Format: Hardback
Source: Personal
Page Count: 325

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Blurb:
Saints and Misfits is an unforgettable debut novel that feels like a modern day My So-Called Life…starring a Muslim teen.

How much can you tell about a person just by looking at them?

Janna Yusuf knows a lot of people can’t figure out what to make of her…an Arab Indian-American hijabi teenager who is a Flannery O’Connor obsessed book nerd, aspiring photographer, and sometime graphic novelist is not exactly easy to put into a box.

And Janna suddenly finds herself caring what people think. Or at least what a certain boy named Jeremy thinks. Not that she would ever date him—Muslim girls don’t date. Or they shouldn’t date. Or won’t? Janna is still working all this out.

While her heart might be leading her in one direction, her mind is spinning in others. She is trying to decide what kind of person she wants to be, and what it means to be a saint, a misfit, or a monster. Except she knows a monster…one who happens to be parading around as a saint…Will she be the one to call him out on it? What will people in her tightknit Muslim community think of her then?

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This book is such a wonderful gem! I finished this almost 2 weeks ago, but work commitments have been crazy lately, so I apologize for this delayed review. I’m trying my best to get on top of my reviews from now on!

Saints and Misfits is just like any contemporary Young Adult novel: 16-year-old girl charting the waves of social expectations while trying to figure what she wants for herself. Additional bonus would be the fact that this is diverse read with a Muslim hijabi girl! Janna Yusof is such a beautiful soul, I wish I could pull her out of the pages and have long, inspiring talks deep into the night.

The plot was a bit slow in the beginning but it picked up pretty well by the middle of the book. We get to see how Janna’s mind and being matures as she faces her greatest fear. I love how well written Janna is in facing her insecurities and the ‘monster’. Everything felt so relatable. From the hypocritical religious characters to the wonderful family and friends that surround her, you will find something familiar in each character brought to you in Saints and Misfits.

It was so refreshing to see Janna being surrounded by such strong characters, such as her mom and older brother, and her best friends. Even her dad, who’s divorced from her mom, is so supportive of Janna! Teenage life can be so frustrating and every other YA book out there always comes with a troubled family or a depressing setting. While these conditions are important to be addressed in books, it was very nice to read Saints and Misfits which had such a positive environment. We definitely need more positive books like this!

Also, I love how Janna is friends with so  many non-Muslims that accept her for who she is and sees her beyond her hijab. Too often social media has made Islamophobia drive us into a sheltered shell where we assume every Westerner is out to get us, when that isn’t the case at all.

Being a Muslim myself, this book was super easy to relate with. Islamic fundamentals were introduced and briefly explained in the book. While Malaysia isn’t that strict about dating among Muslims, the conservative nature Janna’s religious society is still easily understandable and brings an air of familiarity.

Lastly, I have to give a special shout out to a few wonderful characters from the book. Sausan is this sassy niqabi whose personality defies the cloth surrounding her head and face. I love her badass nature and how she’s influenced Janna at the end of the book. Sarah is also a favourite of mine. I started out disliking her goody two shoes nature, but as the book progresses, we see a different side to her which makes us appreciate her a little more. And don’t get me started on Nuah! I have a new fictional crush and this guy hits all the right spots!

Overall, a wonderful light read about facing your unconventional fears, believing in your strength and the ability to make good decisions in life. It deals with hijab shaming and racism in small details, but overall, the book is about friendship and love. I implore you to pick this up as soon as you can because more people need to read this amazing book!

“In closing, I want to add clothing is cultural and Muslims belong to ALL cultures of the world…”

Have you read the book? What did you think of it?

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Epic Deception and Harsh Truths Revealed: a Review of The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

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Genre:
Fantasy
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication date: February 28th, 2017 (originally published in Jan 24th 2006)
Format: Paperback
Source: Personal
Page Count: 375

Series: The Queen’s Thief #3
#1: The Thief Review
#2: The Queen of Attolia Review

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Blurb:

By scheming and theft, the Thief of Eddis has become King of Attolia. Eugenides wanted the queen, not the crown, but he finds himself trapped in a web of his own making.

Then he drags a naive young guard into the center of the political maelstrom. Poor Costis knows he is the victim of the king’s caprice, but his contempt for Eugenides slowly turns to grudging respect. Though struggling against his fate, the newly crowned king is much more than he appears. Soon the corrupt Attolian court will learn that its subtle and dangerous intrigue is no match for Eugenides.

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Warning: Spoilers if you haven’t read the previous 2 books in this series.

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“He whines, he complains, he ducks out of the most obvious responsibility. He is vain, petty and maddening, but he doesn’t ever quit.” – Ornon

Oh how wonderful it is to be reunited with Eugenides once more! Every time I read another book, my mind keeps wondering back at this series and wonder what Gen will be up to next.

Before I get on with my review, I should note that I won’t be giving lengthy reviews for the rest of the books in this series. I find each book brilliantly written so far and enjoye each one so much. That said, I wouldn’t want my readers to feel as if I’m gushing about the same thing in each review. So, I’ll focus on what’s different about each book and keep it short and sweet 🙂

Now, the one thing I absolutely love about this series is how there’s no major plot or cliffhanger. Sure there’s a war with the Mede Empire that’s on the verge of happening. But King of Attolia focuses more on its rich characters and plot revealing all the cunningness and deception which seems to be endless here. You may never know how the series is going to end, and that’s how the books keep on surprising you.

The King of Attolia brings us back to Attolia again, picking up from where we last saw Eugenides and Attolia, The King and Queen of Attolia. Newly married, we get an internal look from within the palace just how the people of Attolia is treating its new King. Where the previous books were told from Gen and Attolia/Eddis point of views, this time it’s told from a royal guard named Costis, who made the mistake of capturing Eugenide’s attention leading him into the court’s game of politics and deception.

And that has led to a whole load of interesting events, revelations, betrayals and the ultimate discovery of Eugenide’s brilliant mind. Will he be able to win over the favors of his court? King of Attolia has a lot to reveal.

“Sometimes, if you want to change a man’s mind, you have to change the mind of the man next to him first.” – Eugenides

The characters remain my favourite part of this series. Each character have its own unique personality that plays so well into how the story is played out. They don’t change much throughout the book, but then again they don’t need to because they’re adults with strong personalities and brilliant minds. It would be confusing and an offense to the book for them to start deviating from their true selves.

Eugenides is sarcastic and quick-minded as always. With his brilliant, cunning mind, we see from the point of view of Costis just how well Eugenides carry out his political machinations in order to build a reputation as King of Attolia. We see more of Attolia too, which is always a delight to read.  She has fast become one of the most solid characters despite her lack of dialogue in the books. There are also more description of her marriage to Eugenides and dare I say it: I have a new OTP in these two wonderful characters!

“The king lifted a hand to her cheek and kissed her. It was not a kiss between strangers, not even a kiss between a bride and groom. It was a kiss between a man and his wife, and when it was over, the king closed his eyes and rested his forehead in the hollow of the queen’s shoulder, like a man seeking respite, like a man reaching home at the end of the day.”

You will learn to love Costis as well and all of his naivety and brilliant humor. His loyalty to the crown despite his hate for Eugenides paves the way for an interesting revelation of events that will influence his perception of the two royals. I hope to see more of Costis in the upcoming books.

Overall, another brilliant installment to the Queen’s Thief series. This series remains a top recommendation from me and I hope my feeble reviews convince you to further read the books in the series!

“He limped slowly over to his own wooden sword and stooped awkwardly to pick it up. Trailing it on the ground behind him, he limped toward the queen, and the courtyard quieted as he approached and was silent again as he dropped to his knees before her and laid the sword across her lap.
“My Queen,” he said.
“My King,” she said back.”

 

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