Year of the Asian Reading Challenge – Sign Up Post! #YARC2019

Year of the Asian Reading Challenge – Sign Up Post! #YARC2019

Some pretty cool people (more specifically Lily, Shealea, Vicky and CW) have come together to host a reading challenge to celebrate Asian literature. The aim of this challenge is to read as many books written by Asian authors.

In order for a book to count, it must be started and finished within 2019. I really enjoy how laid back this challenge is and for someone like me, whose time available to read/blog fluctuates very easily, it’s often really difficult to participate in reading challenges. I’ve already planned to read more books by Asian authors but I thought it would be cool to join this challenge and document the books I do find! There’s no set number of books to read, just levels to reach which depend on how many books you end up reading!

I really like how all the levels are based on different animals in Asia. I initially got brave and thought I will be able to hit the Bengali tiger level, which is reading more than 50 books, but then I had to take into account university assignments and life, in general, so I’m aiming for the Malayan tapir level, which is to read around 31-40 books.

Green and blue award badge with a Malaya Tapir in the center, and with three gold stars above the award.
My journal spread for #YARC2019!

I’ll be updating my main progress on Twitter! You can follow me @zaheerahkhalik if you’re interested! If you’re interested in joining too, here’s one of the official sign-up posts.

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Review: All The Lonely People

Review: All The Lonely People

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ (2.5/5)

*I received a copy via the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.*

When Kat becomes the target of an alt-right smear campaign, she has no choice but to erase her entire online presence. Suddenly, Kat is fading, and only The Lonely People know what to do. Wesley realises that people are forgetting Kat and he has to help her, even if he was partially responsible for it. 

I think what was best about this book was the portrayal of the toxic parts of the internet. These people who spew negative, hateful things into the world have solid fan bases, often young kids. Kat is one of the newest victims of a right-wing YouTuber who enables his fanbase to act violently, to hack into her website, her safe space, and completely violate her privacy.
Kat’s entire arc was the story for me. She’s created this online side of herself where she’s free to speak about anything she wants. She discusses fandom positivity and the beauty of the internet. And then it’s gone, and she had to work with Safa, a fellow faded person, to discover what to do next. Her chapters were more interesting to read. 

Welsey is a part of the boys who look up to these YouTubers, act on their behalf on these so-called man-hating feminists who want to get rid of them. He’s very much aware that what he’s doing is terrible, and what was irritating was how he never really owns up to what he’s done. He often blames his surroundings, his upbringing which caused him to find friendship in an alt-right fanbase. Kat seems to be the only person with sense and often calls him out, not outright because no one can interact with a faded person. The ending suggests Wesley works towards becoming a better person. But, personally, I found it difficult to forgive. 

The outright dismissal of online friendships was a downfall as well. Kat essentially fades because once her site is shut down, she has nothing, no other connection to people, therefore begins to fade. It comes across as seeing online relationships as less authentic and not real. And it’s quite dangerous in this book because it does show how real the internet can be, how anyone with a large enough following can have people do their terrible bidding. It’s not as nuanced as the book believes it is. 

All The Lonely People certainly is unique. The notion of fade to represent feeling invisible while discussing online culture in our current digital age is fascinating. It’s a shame I didn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted to. 


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Review: Opposite of Always

Review: Opposite of Always

Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5)

*I received a copy via the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.*

Jack meets Kate. They bond over their love for cereals and films. Jack falls in love, and it should be happily ever after. That is until Kate dies, and Jack returns to moments just before he meets Kate, again. Here, Jack faces multiple choices as he’s continuously thrown back to the past when Kate dies. He aims to stop Kate from dying, but that doesn’t come without consequences. And the choices he makes turns deadly elsewhere, and he has to figure out what he’s willing to let go to save everyone he loves.

Opposite of Always took a while to grow on me. I knew it was going to become a bit repetitive, considering the plot, but Reynold’s debut was a sweet coming-of-age story with a fun time travelling twist.

After meeting Kate at a party, Jack embarks on an adorable romance which is cut short and restarts itself when Kate dies. He sees this as a second chance, another chance to save Kate, but every time he changes something to help Kate, some even more drastic happens in the result of it.  Each return to the past has devastating impacts if Jack’s not careful. And because of this, the plot builds very slowly, but I found that Opposite of Always was more charming than I had expected.

The dialogue is witty and fun, especially with Jack and his peers. His relationship with his family was dynamic and nuanced. Jack is very loveable, and a well-rounded character. His voice is genuine and real. As well as Kate, something new is revealed about her with every loop. The plot mainly revolves around Jack’s choices and the consequences to said choices, and it was interesting to see how drastic the decisions ended up and how they differed from previous times based on small choices that seem insignificant.

Overall, an exciting novel about choices and living. Opposite of Always is charming, witty and fun. Contemporary isn’t really up my alley, but I definitely recommend.


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Review: The Other Half of Happiness

Review: The Other Half of Happiness

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)

*Spoilers ahead for The Other Half and Sofia Khan*

The Other Half starts when Sofia Khan ends, Sofia marrying her next-door neighbour, Conall, in Pakistan and continues straight from there. I was hopeful after reading Sofia Khan, the first didn’t really do much for me, and I was hoping its sequel would improve the overall story much more.

What I liked most about this novel was seeing it transition from Single Sofia to Married Sofia, and how marriage brings about a whole new journey no one is really prepared for, and Sofia indeed isn’t. Sofia’s mother’s arc was interesting, and I was pleased to see her get engaged, and be happy again, but again even that fell through. The humour is still great, and it carries through the novel, even when the plot disappoints. And the writing style, the journal-type notes Sofia leaves for herself is really witty and fun to read.

Everything just felt off from the second it started. Sofia leaves London to help in Pakistan, once she’s there she’s stuck, and there’s little explanation as to why she’s no longer needed. Keeping her stuck gave way to her deciding to write another book, this time about her marriage with Conall, which she writes to his dissatisfaction. (How will anyone want to read a book on your marriage when your husband doesn’t even want it???) And from there, it’s a cycle of bad decisions that don’t make sense.

Miscommunication is critical in this novel, and it is so frustrating how a lot of this novel’s issues would be fixed if they just talked. Conall with his past, Sofia with her current frustrations, and just everyone in general, just sent like one text, they wouldn’t be in the issue they’re all currently in. The characters all seem to be somewhat different than in the first novel like, as a reader, I could barely recognise them from the first book. Conall, especially, after its revealed he was newly divorced after abandoning his first wife and child, who is suffering from cancer.

Overall, the (current) duology was a fun, quick, and easy read. The overall story was too frustrating for me to read since I wasn’t a huge fan of the first book, the second does a bit better to improve my mood of the entire series so far. I don’t want to sound so negative of this series, and  I can see so many other people loving it, but it wasn’t 100% for me.


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Monthly Rewind: December 2018

Monthly Rewind: December 2018

The most rushed Monthly Rewind because I had thought this was already written, but, in fact, I forgot to write it.

B O O K S 

Geekerella | Sunfish | No Man of Woman Born | Opposite of Always | The Other Half of Happiness | The Weight of Our Sky

M U S I C 

Merry-go-round | Love Shot | The Best Thing I Ever Did | No Air | Finale | Crystal Snow | Way Back Home | Treasure

That’s it for that month! Tell me what went on in YOUR life this month! What sort of things was important for you this month? New obsessions? New TV shows? Or book? Any new song recs (I’m always open to new music!)? Best books you read this month?

Best books I’ve read in 2018!

Best books I’ve read in 2018!

Today’s post is a recap for some of the books I had enjoyed this year. My top 18 reads of 2018!

I managed to read 102 books this year, and I’m very impressed with myself. I was ridiculously busy with university and work, this year, I was really worried that I wouldn’t be able to complete the challenge I set for myself. I usually set my goal around 50 because it’s more attainable for me, and since last year, I had a really bad reading year, I wanted to do better.

I guess I did do better this year since I managed to read more, but I didn’t read differently this year. I want to read more than just Young Adult novels and I want to try going into Adult fiction and other areas of books that I otherwise wouldn’t have touched. But I was set back a lot by university which meant I just ended up reading what I requested on NetGalley or my backlist. But I do want to branch out for 2019 and read more differently and diversely.

So, without further ado, my top 18 reads of 2018! (In no particular order!)

  1. The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf

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.

All I can say for now is: Emotional and stunning. I’m part of the blog tour for this in February so catch my review and playlist for this book then!

  • A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

It’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped.

I know I said I didn’t have an exactly number one favourite this year, but Expanse is the one that hit the highest. I wasn’t exactly impressed by the Shatter Me series, at least, not until the latest release, but Expanse blew me away. For years, I hadn’t touched anything Tahereh Mafi wrote because I didn’t like Shatter Me when it first came out. But this book changed everything. I adore Tahereh on social media, but now I’m a huge fan of her work. | my review

  • Sadie by Courtney Summers

A missing girl on a journey of revenge. A Serial―like podcast following the clues she’s left behind.

This book was pure greatness. It was so much fun to read, especially the audiobook, since it plays out like a podcast as well. Part mystery, part drama. All round pretty good read. | my review

  • Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility

Schwab has been on my to-read list for years. Even before I started this blog, and I finally managed to find time to read at least one of her books this year and I’m glad it was Vicious. It was such a surprise to read and so much fun. I never wanted to not stop reading a book as much as this one. | my review

Continue reading “Best books I’ve read in 2018!”