#YARC2019 – Progress update!

#YARC2019 – Progress update!

Hello and welcome to my update on my progress of the Year of the Asian 2019 (#YARC2019) reading challenge. If you’re new and don’t know what that is, I’ll link to my sign up post with all the important details. But the basics of this challenge is to simply read books by Asian authors. What I love about this challenge is that it’s not much of a challenge for me. My main reading goals, in general, is to read diversely and what I appreciate about #YARC2019 is its simplicity. I’m already reading books by Asian authors and this just challenge allows me to monitor those numbers closely. 

Green and blue award badge with a Malaya Tapir in the center, and with three gold stars above the award.
credit: thequietpond

My biggest update is that I finally reached my 30th book, meaning I’ve completed my intended reading tier which was the Malayan Tapir (21-30 books). You can check out my progress tracker here, which includes all the books I’ve read and links to ones that have reviews!

My favourite reads of this challenge so far have been:

Anyway, sorry for the short post, but I just wanted to make a quick update! I start my final year of university soon so I’m glad I managed to hit my tier before the madness of third-year truly kicks in! Thanks for reading and good luck to anyone else partaking! 


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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: Internment

Review: Internment

Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5)

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

Set in a horrifying future, where the United States has forced all Muslim American citizens into an internment camp, seventeen-year-old Layla must find help inside and out to lead a revolution against the camp’s cruel director.

I engulfed this book. Really. I started reading at 11 pm and didn’t put my phone down until I checked the time when I was done, and it was 2 am. Internment is timely to our ongoing xenophobic climate where a Muslim ban like the one in this book isn’t as fictional as people would think. Muslims are rounded up, their books are burnt, and their bodies are coded. Layla and her family are swiftly rounded up in California, but she refuses to let herself be hidden away like this. She begins to lash out but quickly learns that resistance is death in the eyes of the camp director.

I loved Layla so much. Despite her fears, she carries on, even though she has no idea what she’s doing and everything she does know can come crashing down in seconds if the Director discovers her plans.

Internment focuses on the younger generation, and how they all band together to fight the injustice, they’re experiencing. Layla quickly makes friends, and they all work together to bring attention to their situation and put an end to the unfair treatment within the camps and bring an end to them. Their friendships are one of the book’s main strength. Even when they’re divided into the camp, with the Director doing the most to make them turn on each other, they rise together to uplift everyone’s voices.

The book shines the most when it brings awareness of how this has happened before, and how turning away from history can only bring devastating actions. Layla recalls her history lessons of WWII and Japanese internment and shows how easy oppressive entities can enact destructive acts on marginalised communities.

I’m not sure how to put this into words, but it felt somewhat incomplete? Like the world felt lacking. All we know is that a full-on Muslim ban has been enacted where they must be home by a particular time, they are unable to work, and even Layla’s father’s literature was being burned at book burnings. It was all too frightening to read knowing easily true this can come. The book is marketed as a “fifteen minutes into the future” so I assume our current knowledge is supposed to fill the gaps, but I wished there was more to it. I hoped there was more detail to certain things like the camp and motivation behind secondary characters. There are certain characters who I don’t think they get the right amount of time to understand them. And because of this, certain aspects do come across as comical.

Overall, despite my own personal shortcomings with this book, I still found it gripping and authentic. Can I say how much Ahmed has improved from her debut? She’s definitely an author to watch everyone! A gripping narrative about the internment of Muslims and Layla’s journey to understanding and combating xenophobia and racism. A brilliant book for younger readers and I definitely recommended reading this book.


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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.