Book Review: Every Heart A Doorway

Rating: ★★★★☆

Every Heart A Doorway has one of the best concepts ever. We all dream we can be whisked away through a wardrobe door, fall down a hole and be transported to entirely new worlds. But Every Heart is about the kids that come back, whether they want to or not. Here come Eleanor West’s Home For Wayward Children where desperate parents send their children who they want back to ‘normal’. But Eleanor is someone who has also returned and commits her life to providing a safe place for them. Tragedy strikes the day Nancy enters the home, and with her new-found friends, they try to stop it before it gets them.

For a story so short, it tackles and includes so many topics: gender issues, what we perceive as wrong or right, mental health. There are so many lyrical and poetic lines in here, it was amazing.

“Because ‘boys will be boys’ is a self-fulfilling prophecy,” said Lundy. “They’re too loud, on the whole, to be easily misplaced or overlooked; when they disappear from the home, parents send search parties to dredge them out of swamps and drag them away from frog ponds. It’s not innate. It’s learned. But it protects them from the doors, keeps them safe at home. Call it irony, if you like, but we spend so much time waiting for our boys to stray that they never have the opportunity. We notice the silence of men. We depend upon the silence of women.

McGuire knows how to write creepy.  I went into this thinking it was like Miss Peregrine’s Home, but Every Heart is much eerier and strange. But you can’t mention this book without mentioning the diversity. It makes me so happy to see authors really understanding how important it is for our fiction to be diverse. While I was excited to see such a diversity of characters, and all of them have such well-built tales and backstories, I struggled to feel for them. I think it maybe due to its length, but this concept was way too big to fit into such a small novel. I would’ve loved to have seen more worldbuilding. The High-Logic and High Nonsense confused me at first, but it interested me. There are so many concepts that are introduced but not much of it is actually explained. But I believe the third novel will continue the events in this one, so I’m definitely excited to see what happens next!

Overall, I definitely recommend Every Heart A Doorway since it’s a strange yet entertaining read. 


GOODREADS | AMAZON | THE BOOK DEPOSITORY | BARNES & NOBLE
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2016 Releases I Meant To Read But Didn’t Get To

I just realised I haven’t done a Top Ten Tuesday since June. I think towards the end of the year, I went really downhill on my posting but I’m hoping to get my site get active this year. And TTT are such a fun and easy way to do it! And I think this topic was made for me. I’m a very slow reader, contrary to others around me who think I’m very fast because I read a lot of books, but I’m slow when it comes round to reading new releases. I’ve even dedicated the first two months of the year clearing my TBR so it’s less daunting and more manageable. But let’s get on with this week’s top ten 2016 releases I meant to read but didn’t. (In my case, it’s every book of 2016 lmao)

1) Girl Against the Universe

22297294Maguire is bad luck.

No matter how many charms she buys off the internet or good luck rituals she performs each morning, horrible things happen when Maguire is around. Like that time the rollercoaster jumped off its tracks. Or the time the house next door caught on fire. Or that time her brother, father, and uncle were all killed in a car crash—and Maguire walked away with barely a scratch.

It’s safest for Maguire to hide out in her room, where she can cause less damage and avoid meeting new people who she could hurt. But then she meets Jordy, an aspiring tennis star. Jordy is confident, talented, and lucky, and he’s convinced he can help Maguire break her unlucky streak. Maguire knows that the best thing she can do for Jordy is to stay away. But it turns out staying away is harder than she thought.

MY THOUGHTS: I have literally heard nothing by goods things about this book from everyone I follow so this one has slowly been edging its way up my TBR.

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Book Review: Soundless

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Soundless takes place in a remote, closed off mountain village in ancient China, where all it’s members are deaf and receive food via a delivery in exchange for sending the metal that they’ve mined. Fei is a talented artist, who fears for her sister’s life as she slowly loses her sight. Until one day, Fei regains her hearing and joins her childhood friend on a mission down the mountain to find help.

I’m not going to lie, I was disappointed when I finished this book. I’ve only read two of Mead’s books, Vampire Academy and Frostbite, and I actually really liked them. A lot. If I can recall, it was brilliant albeit cheesy. But it had the action, drama and intensity and I was expecting all this to come in her new novel that is supposedly “steeped in Chinese folklore.” But nothing really jumps out as remotely Chinese about this story. Aside from the pixiu, you could change the names to Rose, Lissa and Dimitri and this could be set anywhere else.

I get this seems harsh, but I don’t have anything good to say about this book and that’s difficult for me, as someone tries to find redeeming qualities in even the worst books I’ve read.

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Book Review: Girl Out of Water

Rating: ★★★★☆

In Girl Out of Water, Anise Sawyer finds her final summer before college interrupted when her aunt is in a devastating car accident, which forces her and her dad to make their way to Nebraska to take care of her cousins. Stuck in the triply landlocked state, with three restless cousins, Anise discovers the local skate park and also the charming, one-armed, Lincoln, where she swaps her surfboard for a skateboard.

As someone who isn’t a big YA contemporary reader, I really enjoyed Girl Out of Water. I don’t really know how to describe it. But it was quite peaceful, in comparison, to the other books I’ve been reading. What we have is a heart-warming coming of age novel. Anise thinks she has it all sorted out, but when everything slowly falls apart, she has to take a step back. The more time she spends away from Santa Cruz, away from the sea and her friends, the more she starts to worry that she will become like her mother, who disappears for months on end. Girl Out of Water is Anise realising that, essentially, change has to come and that she doesn’t have to forget the friends she loves and the memories she has in order to make new ones. So the plot isn’t overly dramatic, but it is well-developed. Silverman’s characters were witty, hilarious and diverse. The punchy dialogue and style of writing really reminds me of Nicola Yoon’s Everything, Everything

Girl Out of Water is a story of first love, relationships, loss and change. I have no doubt that this will top the bestseller lists once it’s released. Its decent plot and cast of fun characters makes me excited to see what else Laura Silverman will publish in the future.


GOODREADS | AMAZON | THE BOOK DEPOSITORY | BARNES & NOBLE

Favourite Books of 2016

bestbook2016(Please excuse the messy feature image. I made a much better one but for some reason, the file didn’t save properly so I had to rush a new one :/ )

2016 was a strange year in terms of reading – I read a total of 85 books, much less than last year, and there were many highs and lows. A resolution of mine was to read more books I know I would like but I feel like this year my negative to positive reviews ratio was very uneven. But I did find some new favourites. So… on to the post! My top six favourite reads of 2016!

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Book Review: On the Other Side

Rating: ★★★☆☆

In my review of All I Know Now, I mentioned that I was hopeful that Carrie’s fictional debut would be much better than her first book. But I think I preferred All I Know Now to On the Other Side. As a debut, it’s a decent read, but, overall, it was tedious and quite dull.

What I liked the best was the concept of the novel. On the Other Side follows the life of Evie Snow, going on a journey in the afterlife to revisit her past moments in life in order to get rid of her personal baggage and allow her entrance into her own personal Heaven. She must confront three secrets which she had kept and the book is split into three sections for each secret. But that’s where any positivity from me stops.While the whole book wasn’t terrible, there were so many moments and parts that I didn’t like so, looking back on it as I write this, what I didn’t like is a considerable amount of the book.

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Book Review: Queen of Shadows

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

*Note: this review has big spoilers for QoS and the previous novels*

In Queen of Shadows, Celaena Sardothien embraces her identity as Aelin Galathynius, Queen of Terrasen but, in order to reclaim her throne, she must fight and confront her past.

I think I’ll start with what I did like with Queen of Shadows. First, Lysandra. She’s one of my favourite parts in this book. But Lysandra and Aelin was a great female friendship that saved the book for me. Maas could’ve easily made them be so petty towards each other but they both realise they’re much stronger together than they are against. I was overjoyed once they started working together against Arobynn Hammell. (I know it has been a couple of books now, but I’m still bitter over Nehemia and everything that could’ve been.)

Secondly, the improvement in Maas’s writing. She had developed really well throughout the series. There’s a lot I hate about this series but she can write really well. She’s grown as a writer but it’s a shame that I didn’t like this series as much as I could.

However, during the first half of this book, aside from Aelin’s scenes, it felt like a repeat of Crown of Midnight. I was bored and detached from the story. Here I was thinking maybe it was time to ditch the series all for good. But I’m so thankfully that it does pick up towards the end and the series has finally reached the point I’ve been waiting for: Aelin’s return to Terrasen. Empire of Storms better not disappoint, I’ve been waiting for her return for ages!

In my last review of the series, I said I was #TeamDorian but I’ve realised that I’m now #TeamDorianandChaolBOTHDESERVED BETTER. The romance in this series has seriously gone downhill, for me. While I found Celaena/Chaol cute, I wasn’t heavily invested in them so when Aelin/Rowan happened, I wouldn’t have cared as much if Maas hadn’t changed Chaol so much so that Aelin/Rowan could happen. Rowan is interesting but I hated that Chaol had to suffer in terms of his development to benefit Rowan and Aelin. I take back when I said Chaol needs to trust Celaena once I realised how much Maas structured it so Chaol looked bad. (using Nehemia, blaming everything on him, working for the King yet never killing him) In blaming Chaol for a lot of things that were out of this control, Celaena came across as a hypocrite. It’s also painfully obvious that Nesryn Faliq was introduced to soften the blow for Chaol fans and so Chaol doesn’t end up alone.

Overall, I would say Queen of Shadows was okay. I could’ve rated this more, but so much of it felt unnecessary and the only part I did enjoy was the ending. While I think nothing in this series will be as great as Crown of Midnight, I’m much more compelled to see this series to its end.


GOODREADS | AMAZON | THE BOOK DEPOSITORY | BARNES & NOBLE

Attending #YMWA2016

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the Young Muslim Writer’s Award.Despite me getting episcleritis (inflammation in my eye) a couple of days before, it was still so much fun! Congratulations to everyone who was nominated and who won!

It was a great event with an amazing atmosphere! There were so many amazing moments but I know I’ll have to list some of my favourites.

  • Watching Muzoon Almellehan, a Syrian refugee, being given the Special Recognition Award for her activism in education for young girls.
  • When S.F Said presented the award for the KS2 Short Story Award – “There is nobody who can write your story better than you.” Since I had just completed NaNoWriMo and was currently working on a new story, this line was so encouraging.
  • When Caleb Femi recited some of this poetry – He’s so talented and funny! Also loved it when he spoke on the importance of making sure people of colour are not erased from literature.

 

The best part of the day was meeting Zoya. I met Zoya online after she commented on my Muslim Characters in YA post and we had spoken to each other a few times over the months. And we saw each other face to face for the first time here at the event. It was amazing to meet someone you’ve spoken to online for real! Zoya was actually nominated for an award in the Key Stage 3 poetry section and won!

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Me and Zoya with her award

At the end of the awards, there was some time for networking but, unfortunately, we had to leave since my eye started aching a lot. And I had finished my eye drops so it was very painful 😦

While I really wished I spoke to more people,  I’d like to end this post with a thank you to Zainub Chohan who invited me to the event and is basically the backbone of the #YMWA. It was a great event and wouldn’t have been possible with her.  Thank you to all the judges, performers, nominees and presenters. Can’t wait to see what new talent we’ll see in 2017.

#DiversityDecBingo TBR!

What is #DiversityDecBingo?

#DiversityDecBingo is a month long reading challenge hosted by some really cool people. (names are in the graphic below) The challenge is to encourage people to read books by marginalised authors and/or about marginalised characters. The rules are pretty simple: all you have to do it pick 5 squares in a row and read one book per prompt. I’ll be posting pictures and tweeting about it on Instagram and twitter (I’m @zaheerah on insta/ @zaheerahkhalik on twitter)

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My TBR

Non-western Cultural Fantasy

→ The Star-touched Queen

Muslim Main Character

→Written in the Stars

Free Place

→ If I Was Your Girl

SFF with LGBTQIA+ Main Character

→ Hero

Asexual/Aromantic Main Character

→ Every Heart A Doorway