Review: The Year After You

Review: The Year After You

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.*

Almost a year after a car accident that derailed Cara’s life, her mother enrolls her into Hope Hall, for her final year. Miles away from anyone who knows her, on a secluded boarding school in the Alps, Cara intends to keep her past a secret. But the one thing she didn’t account for was the students of Hope Hall.

When I think random boarding school in the Alps, there’s a very stereotypical expectation I had constructed around this setting, but The Year After You utilizes the setting very well which very much complimented the story. The way everything is trapped in this one mountain made the story more intense.
Cara, our main lead, was brilliantly frustrating. I personally didn’t like her, but when we got to the end, I did feel for her. Her pain and confusion as she blames herself for the death of her friend while trying to keep her new friends at an arm’s length were honestly heart-breaking.

The side characters were extremely brilliant. Without them, I don’t think I would have enjoyed this book very much. Ren is everything you want in a friend; caring, supportive and patient. Hector is a hero with a chip on his shoulder and story of his own. He’s rather mysterious with an extremely interesting backstory. Fred, I have to admit, took a while to understand. He immediately sees Cara as a threat to his friendship group and I didn’t particularly enjoy seeing him gang up on her. Everyone in this school reminds me of my own secondary school days, we’re all on edge and even stuff that seems irrelevant now, really crumbled your world back then, so I get the fear of losing everything that you’ve known.

Overall, The Year After You is a moving debut about a girl sent to boarding school after her best friend in a car accident. Personally, this book wasn’t for me. It starts off rather slow, but towards the end, it really packs a punch


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Mini Review: It’s Not About The Burqa and More

Mini Review: It’s Not About The Burqa and More

It’s Not About the Burqa

Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5)

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image source: goodreads

I LOVED this. A much-needed collection of essays from Muslim women on faith, feminism and sexuality as a Muslim woman. Each piece was distinct and worked towards dismantling a very stereotypical narrative around Muslim women. It does its best to discuss a wide range of experiences and allows Muslim women to take a step into a discussion we are never invited to join. It starts for a much bigger conversation where Muslim women can reclaim their identity for themselves without generalisation and gives a great insight into many other perspectives of intersections of Muslim identities.

Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes?

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)

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image source: goodreads

Olive is given a chance to join a new mental health programme where, for one month, she will receive a new form of therapy with other kids like herself, who are dealing with mental health issues. Except Olive does not know her diagnosis and she wants to keep it that way. In this summer camp, Olive comes to term with her thoughts, and while everyone around her is trying to fix her, she realises that maybe it is the world that needs fixing. So, she teams up with the other campers and figures out a way to fix

the world. This book is quite blunt and I, personally, had some seriously mixed feelings about this book. However, I did appreciate the discussion it had on mental health, and it encourages others to discuss it more. The characters are ridiculous and real, and their journey together as a group was a shining moment in this book. I just personally did not connect with this book, but I also did not want to rate it really negatively because of my own personal shortcomings with this book.

The Beauty That Remains

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)

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image source: goodreads

Told from the perspective of three teenagers, all experienced the death of a loved one. Autumn lost her best friend, Shay, her twin sister, and Logan, the boy he loved. Their stories are linked through an indie band called Unravelling Lovely, and this book essentially follows them as they navigate their grief. It’s an emotional story, and I really enjoy how each narrator uses music differently to deal with their pain. Towards the end, I feel like the plot thins especially as it’s spread between three different perspectives, but nonetheless, I really enjoyed. It’s, in essence, three different stories in one, and it has a beautifully diverse cast of characters.


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Mini-review: Mermaid’s Voice and By Your Side

Mini-review: Mermaid’s Voice and By Your Side

*I receive e-copies of these books via NetGalley in return for an honest review*

the mermaid’s voice returns in this one – amanda lovelace

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)

A powerful and empowering conclusion to the Women Are Some Kind of Magic trilogy. I wasn’t too sure about this reading especially since I didn’t particularly enjoy the second book that much, but I knew it would bug me to not complete a series that is short like this one. The one thing I liked the most about Lovelace’s work is how she uses the concepts of fairy tales, subverting traditionally submissive stories about women and reinventing them in her own way. I guess, and it isn’t Lovelace’s fault, the style really doesn’t do much for me anymore. I can’t really fault her on this structure being so overused in popular poetry books.  

Rilakkuma: By Your Side – Aki Kondo

Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

Two words: Cute and simple. By Your Side is a series of different everyday scenes of Rilakkuma and his friends. It’s pretty sweet, a simple quote book filled with adorable art of the well-loved cartoon characters. It’s a book I would keep at my shelf and look through if I’m feeling down.

Don’t expect a lot from this book, it’s mainly pictures with some inspiring quotes alongside it. But it’s delightful and optimistic. I believe this was released in anticipation of Rilakkuma’s upcoming Netflix series, which I did not know what happening. And now I’m pretty excited to watch it.

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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Review: Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged

Review: Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)

Sofia Khan is single and ready to mingle, all in the name of her forthcoming Muslim dating book. Sofia is a Pakistani, hijabi Muslim working in the publishing industry. Age thirty and, to her parent’s exasperation, unmarried, Sofia finds herself writing a Muslim dating guide at the point in her life where she’s very much crossed it off forever.

Sofia Khan is neither a tragedy or a issues book which most books around Muslims tend to be about. Which I absolutely commend this book on, but this book just sits right on the middle for me. I didn’t actually hate it, but I didn’t love it either. I think what I liked about this book was how unlikeable Sofia was to me. She’s a witty protagonist who makes poor, poor decisions. Who finds herself in the worst situations that she works well to get out of. I liked how light-hearted it all was, yet critical of a culture that places women’s value on marriage. The moments of culture-clash were relatable and hilarious especially in her workplace which Sofia called  ‘the most white-centric, middle-class industry there is‘, and she’s not wrong.

I really enjoyed the way the book lays out, with its diary-like entries and text message. It’s somewhat choppy as some points, but Sofia’s voice really comes through this way.  I loved the family dynamics and the customs that I literally see every day.

I was certainly thrown off by the central romance, mainly because I hadn’t expected that to come. I was so fixed on a particular part that I hadn’t realised it was going in a completely opposite way. The surprise in the final pages was actually quite interesting. It literally took me until the last line to realise what was happening.

I think what I actually dispised about this book a lot was the microaggressions. And, in my opinion, it really ruined the book for me.  Sinead @ Huntress of Diverse Book put it to words more easily than I could ever, with specific examples that didn’t sit well with me either. She’s also quite hypocritical and narcissistic in a way that she doesn’t seem to realise and I was hoping it would kick in when she recognises the double standards that she holds.

Like Sofia’s mother, and her innocently asking ‘What is this click?’, Sofia Khan is not Obliged merely didn’t click with me. But I am interested in reading its sequel because of that last chapter actually surprised me.


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Content warning: colourism, ableist language, fatantagonistic language, aceantagonistic language, aroantagonistic language. (Credit to Sinead) Death of a parent. (more to be added)

Review: Dear Evan Hansen

Review: Dear Evan Hansen

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)

* I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.

Dear Evan Hansen,

Today’s going to be an amazing day and here’s why…

After Conor Murphy dies by suicide, Evan Hansen finds himself from invisible to visible as a letter from his therapy sessions gets mistaken as Conor’s suicide note. Now, he’s stuck with a lie he never meant to tell. Dear Evan Hansen expands upon the musical of the same name. Told from the perspectives of Evan Hansen and Connor Murphy.

I’ve glad I decided to listen to the musical after I had read this. I’ve come to love the musical so much that I feel like it would’ve shrouded my review of the novelisation of the musical. Which definitely has its flaws.

The characters are absolutely phenomenal, and we get a more in-depth look to all the beloved characters from the musical. Especially Conor Murphy. You get a much better in-depth look into his mind which I really appreciated and loved the most about the book. You don’t get much from Connor that isn’t from his perspective in the musical and the novel did well on his side. Everyone transcends beyond the time limitations of the musical.  Dear Evan Hansen is a thoughtful coming-of-age tale that depicts mental health issues and how social media impacts connections on a global scale.

Like I said before, I’m glad I read this before listening because the beauty of the songs would’ve shrouded my review of the book. There was a bit of frustration at how Evan allows the lies to spread for him to gain a sense of belonging, but it’s understanding of communication and finding meaningful relationships is utterly amazing. But its moral ambiguity of the entire situation was somewhat unsettling. While Evan’s lies did aid them in their grief, it was still disturbing. And how everyone forgives him for it was somewhat disappointing. Maybe, it was easier for plot sake, but I would’ve liked there to be more emphasis on him facing some sort of consequences for his actions, rather than brushing it off. I’ll link to this review which describes some issues of the musical. I don’t think I could put it words better than they had.

Overall, Dear Evan Hansen has its flaws which I definitely acknowledge. The importance of its central message to everyone that they are never alone. And I really needed that. Take a listen to the musical, even if you’re a not a fan of the format, it really is so powerful.


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Content warning: TBA