#RamadanReadathon 2019 Wrap Up!

#RamadanReadathon 2019 Wrap Up!

Eid Mubarak, everyone! Today, I’m going to be wrapping up my first ever #RamadanReadathon. I honestly can’t believe how quickly this Ramadan has gone this year. I hope everyone had a productive month. I did manage to complete the readathon and overall, I had some fun reading my chosen books.

I had chosen the Salah pillar and I read a total of five books. I have yet to review all of them but expect reviews up in the upcoming month!

A Torch Against the Night

Having read Ember almost five years ago, I was surprised how well my own memory held up to this book. If I can recall, I was a little iffy about Embers but after reading Torch, I think it was just my general feelings about the first book in a series. I tend to not enjoy the first book in series but find myself thoroughly enjoying the rest of the series a whole lot more. (see: shatter me series)

Exit West

I didn’t clock on that this book about the refugee experience and migration until very later on, but once I did, it was eye-opening and poignant. The use of fabulism to explore migration was a genius concept and I would really love to read more stories that use this take as well.

Secrets of the Henna Girl

While I didn’t hate any of the books I read for this readathon, I would, for list-sake, have placed Secrets of the Henna Girl last. But that doesn’t mean it was terrible, it was actually really great. I’ve just read quite a few stories about SEA girls being taken back home to marry people recently, it was hard not to compare it to them.

We Hunt the Flame

Hands down, one of the BEST books I’ve read this month. Altair has my heart and soul. That cliffhanger was jaw-dropping and I kind of hate myself for reading this as a new release. I need the next one ASAP.

Amina’s Voice

Amina’s voice was a delightful read, and definitely one that I would’ve loved if it was released when I was a kid. Something about it captured me and was so charming to read. This book was made for younger readers, so I can’t complain about my issue with the pacing. The named attack on her local mosque doesn’t actually occurs until 80% into the book.


Overall, I’m happy with how this month went. I’m not the greatest with readathons because I have a lot going on and time management, especially on my blog, is something I struggle with. But I had so much fun finally reading some of the books on my list and I’m definitely taking part in next year’s readathon.

And that’s a wrap on my first ever #RamadanReadathon! I hope to be back next year!

#RamadanReadathon 2019 TBR

#RamadanReadathon 2019 TBR

I’m so excited to be sharing my TBR for this year’s #RamadanReadathon! I’ve been wanting to join this ever since its start but Ramadan, the last few years, has always fallen during the same months as exam season. Now, that I’m little more organised that I have been in the last few years, I’ve already started/ completed my assignment for this year so I can join this year without deadlines looming behind my head.

The main focus of this readathon is to celebrate and support Muslim authors during the holy month of Ramadan.The main focus this year is a bingo board that is themed around the five pillars of Islam. Each pillar has four different prompts and one free space to complete! To participate in this reading challenge, you must choose one or more of the pillars to complete and, beginning at the bottom, work your way up the board.

MY TBR (the Salah pillar)

A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes, #2)

BOOK IN A SERIES
A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes #2)
Elias and Laia are running for their lives. After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.


I actually read the first book in this series, An Ember in the Ashes, back in it’s pre-release days. I remember really enjoying this book and thinking that I had to immediately read the next book. That was back in 2015! I think this book has been on my TBR for too long! A reread maybe in order or finding a recap because it’s been a long four years and I can’t remember anything.

Exit West

Free Space
Exit West

In a city far away, bombs and assassinations shatter lives every day. Yet, even here, hope renews itself, welling up through the rubble. Somewhere in this city, two young people are smiling, hesitating, sharing cheap cigarettes, speaking softly then boldly, falling in love.


My university works with the Booker Prize foundation on a scheme that gives students books to read each year. This was their 2018 pick. We call it the Big Read and I also had an opportunity to meet the author but my sister and her in-laws came to visit so I couldn’t attend. 🙁

Secrets of the Henna Girl

Contemporary Fiction
Secrets of the Henna Girl

Zeba Khan is like any other sixteen-year-old girl: enjoying herself, waiting for exam results… and dreaming of the day she’ll meet her one true love. Except her parents have other plans. In Pakistan for the summer, Zeba’s world is shattered. Her future is threatened by an unthinkable – and forced – duty to protect her father’s honour.


This one has been on my Kindle for so long and I never found the time to read it. So glad I found the opportunity now!

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Recently released
We Hunt The Flame

War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the king on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.


This is actually released in May and I’m grateful for it’s placement in the chart because I think I’ll be in the position to read it right away on release day!

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Name in the title
Amina’s Voice

Amina has never been comfortable in the spotlight. She is happy just hanging out with her best friend, Soojin. Except now that she’s in middle school everything feels different. Soojin is suddenly hanging out with Emily, one of the “cool” girls in the class, and even talking about changing her name to something more “American.” Does Amina need to start changing too? Or hiding who she is to fit in? While Amina grapples with these questions, she is devastated when her local mosque is vandalized.


Another book that’s been on my TBR for too long! Time to fix that!

Well, that’s my TBR for #RamadanReadathon 2019! Are you taking part this year? If so, which pillar(s) are you aiming to complete?

Review: If The Dress Fits

Review: If The Dress Fits

Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

Martha Aguas is living her best life. She travels, works in a job she enjoys, has the greatest best friend, and always does the most to help her family. But her peace is swiftly shattered when her cousin returns from London engaged with the only boy she’s ever loved. Suddenly, the family is all coming together for the big day, but for Martha, it’s slowly coming undone.

If The Dress Fits was brilliant, character-driven story. I have nothing but utmost love for this story, even with some little discrepancies. It was exciting and touching. Martha is very self-deprecating and depending on the person, you either love her or hate her. Max is a sweetheart and another fictional male lead you will desperately wish existed.

This story, at its core, promotes self-love. I see myself in Marta, struggling with my own weight, and facing comments from our similar south-east Asian background. Despite different cultures, the weight issue is very much the same. Martha meets some insulting comments from about appearance, and I really enjoyed that she didn’t take it. Sure, she makes a little comment about her own body, but it’s her own body, and it’s clear she loves herself despite what everyone else says. 

Considering it’s quite short, the various plotlines we get seemed a little mashed together, so the fake dating that sounds like a massive part of the novel from the book’s description doesn’t happen until quite later on. I think we deserve a full-on Crazy, Rich Asian- style book of the Aguas family.

Family is an essential part of this story. Martha loves her family and will do anything for them. And I absolutely love the role her extended family played in this novel, but what bothered me was how quickly everyone seemed to brush off Regina’s comments and actions. She had previously bullied Martha in the past, and quite frankly, it was terrible to read. It is somewhat acknowledged, but I was indeed uncomfortable with the way her appalling behaviour is brushed off because the novel ends that that family-means-all kind of ending. This also applies to the rest of her family as well. And I wouldn’t consider this a proper criticism but for me, since I wouldn’t invalidate this experience just because it didn’t align with my feelings. But I just found it quite difficult to accept that whole “in the end, we’re family, and that’s all that matters,” when it came to the fat-shaming comments Regina and her family had made about her. But I did enjoy the family scenes, most aspects of her relationship with her family were very heart-warming, and I did appreciate the moments where they are honest with each other.

Overall, this is my second read from Carla, and I’m pretty sure she’s now an auto-buy author for me. If The Dress Fits was adorable and romantic.


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Review: The One Memory of Flora Banks

Review: The One Memory of Flora Banks

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ (2/5)

*Review includes major spoilers*

Flora has anterograde amnesia. She can’t remember anything past a few hours and relies on the scribbles on her hand and the people around her. Until she kisses a boy, she shouldn’t and remembers it. But he’s gone now, and that’s all she can remember.

Oh, how do I feel about this? A large part of me was enjoying this book, to begin with despite the rather odd plot, but overall, I didn’t care for this. I kind of feel bad since it was pretty intriguing, but so much little things irked me that when stacked up, my reading experience wasn’t very good.

With a plot like this, it is no doubt very repetitive, and for some, it can be boring. I quite like it in a sense with the stop and start motions. It’s practically a collection of mini-stories where Flora has to repeat herself constantly. I think that part was done in a way that it didn’t feel completely lacking for me. On her hands are the words “Be brave,” and she is an impressive character to do what she does which such bravery.

I know suspension of disbelief is crucial to read this book, especially with this plot, but there’s a lot that I couldn’t just ignore. Like how Flora’s parents think it’s okay to leave their daughter with her best friend for a week. Sure, Paige knows what to do, but that’s a lot of responsibility to place on her. And I wasn’t even mad when Paige said her mum didn’t agree with it because it’s true, you don’t leave her amnesiac daughter with her only friend for a week. How social service did not catch wind of that is beyond me.

Paige isn’t off the hook either since Flora kisses Paige’s ex-boyfriend and, fair enough, she’s upset. It’s normal to be upset when your best friend kisses your boyfriend. But it’s even more reckless to not stay with Flora when she had already agreed with Flora’s parents. Like she just doesn’t even tell Flora’s parents that she’s not coming. Like, WHAT. Putting your friend’s life at risk was just SO BAD. In the end, Paige does what’s right, but it was still unsettling how she knowingly left her friend in danger for the sake of her own empowerment.

Also, Flora’s brother! He’s very much an enigma throughout the novel, whose real story doesn’t come to light until the very last chapters. And that was so disappointing. HE DESERVED BETTER.

Drake doesn’t deserve so much as a couple of lines. I don’t think it was appropriate to have a 19-year-old boy go after a 17-year-old girl who amnesia makes her still think she’s ten-years-old. Fuck that dude.

I’ll stand by this final point. The book should’ve ended where it began. It had Everything, everything vibes and where it ends is where the story becomes more interesting. We learn that Flora’s parents lied about the cause of her amnesia and they’re too scared to let her grow, so they give her drugs which make her more controllable. It ends with Flora learning that her amnesia could go away and leaving her parents to begin discovering herself. A story from there would’ve been more interesting. Or better, a better plot would’ve been replacing boyfriend with brother. Like, Flora remembers a memory of her brother and goes in search of him despite her parent’s disapproval. Honestly, anything apart from having to read about creepy Drake would’ve been worth my time.

Overall, this book followed the wrong parts, in my opinion. There’s so much to Flora that could’ve been uncovered more, but we got stuck with the love plot instead.


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Review: Does My Head Look Big In This?

Review: Does My Head Look Big In This?

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)

Amal is sixteen when she decides to wear the hijab full time. But she soon faces trouble at her exclusive prep school. Suddenly, everyone seems to have an opinion on her. And as she begins navigating her last years of secondary school, she must find herself without losing her identity.

I think regarding the representation of a hijabi teen, it’s actually quite good. Amal reminds me of my cousin who is actually her age right now. The high school drama, the catty people, and the confusion that comes with growing up are portrayed quite realistically. When she comes to school wearing the hijab, everyone’s confused, and because they’re all children, it’s natural to ask questions. I only say this because a lot of reviews tend to call this part unrealistic. Amal is, at first, outcasted momentarily because they didn’t understand, and she then actually helps and informs her peers. Sure, there’s a lot of scenes that come across unrealistic, but her experiences are entirely valid, and loads of reviews haven’t really grasped that, once you consider the time it’s set in and location. Quite a lot of what Amal experiences were quite familiar to me.

Amal is very well-spoken, confident, and incredibly charming. I was rather proud at this young Muslim girl, who also wears the hijab, and was confident in her decision to do so. I don’t think I even had a shred of her self-confidence at this age.

I listened to the audiobook, so I don’t know what it’s like reading the book, but I felt like I had some issue differentiating some characters. She has like four friends, and along with huge dialogue dumps, it felt all the same. I’m not sure if that’s just the narrator’s voice. There’s also a reliance on a lot of typical stereotypes, and there’s a lot of phrases that are used that just didn’t sit with me. Also, sorry to Amal, I couldn’t see she liked Adam so much. But you do you, I guess. I actually preferred Amal and Adam as a friend. There was also a good potential for an arc with one of Amal’s friends who is often bullied for her weight. I was holding onto something more empowering, but I don’t think the book really hit the mark there. Amal and Leila’s polar opposite arcs can come across as being typical but do partially agree about having something more in the middle. Also, mean girl who is mean and nothing else was a bit boring.

Considering when this book first came out, I have to give Randa Abdel-Fattah a massive amount of respect. Don’t expect this book to teach you everything about Islam, it’s merely one girl’s story, one where’s she learning. It does come across preachy at some moments, but in the end, Amal realises her mistakes and begins to show that she’s learning and growing, which is what I really liked.

Overall, it’s a somewhat entertaining book, and very hilarious at many moments. Regarding recommending, I’m not too sure. If I had read this ten years ago, the list of Muslims in YA wouldn’t have reached half a page, then sure, but reading it in 2019 is a much different experience. But it’s a straightforward book to listen to. A light-hearted journey of identity and discovering one’s self.


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Review: Furthermore

Review: Furthermore

Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5)

In Ferenwood, colour is everything, but Alice Queensmeadows is devoid of it all. And that makes her different, outcasted, even in her own family. Three years after her father’s disappearance, the only person who believed in her, Alice joins a journey into the perils of Furthermore to find him.

Alice hides in her colourful clothes and bangles. And with her upcoming Surrender, the ceremony in which the younger generation of Ferenwood are given a role based on their magical abilities. Alice’s Surrender goes wrong which leads her to join Oliver through the world of Furthermore.

Alice has no choice but to team up with a past friend, Oliver, who is given the job to find her father. And he needs her help. Oliver takes her to Furthermore, a rule changing world, where one mistake will have you lost forever. Oliver is a gifted and strict while Alex is reckless and free-spirited. They begin at odds, but their friendship is forged quite quickly as they face fast-paced adversity. The way they bounce off each other was rather exciting. Their friendship was adorable, and I really enjoyed their development.

This is a fantastic Middle-grade read! I wish something like this existed when I was ten and discovering fantasy. While I fumbled with the world-building at first, the visuals are rather captivating. This book deserves its own graphic novel. The current cover is enough to justify it. It’s very adventurous, with its twisted logic, and Alice’s inner journey of self-love and friendship is fantastic.

Like I said, the world building was a bit confusing, to begin with, it makes more sense in the end, but I would’ve appreciated more clarity in the beginning. But the setting is so unique and thrilling. The eccentricity of all it all was somewhat entertaining. Mixed with its oddity of background characters, there is a lot to love in this book. I’m slightly disappointed in myself that kept putting this book off because I was not a massive fan of Tahereh’s Shatter Me series. I had learnt that quite a lot of other people shared this sentiment which I can now say, give Furthermore a shot, even if you didn’t like Shatter Me.

Overall, Furthermore is impressive. A story of loss and recovery, one of Tahereh’s more unique novels which show Alice and Oliver negotiate the harsh landscape of Furthermore and discover more about themselves. It’s fun, vibrant and imaginative! A definitely recommended read, especially for younger readers.


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