Review – Unusual Animals A – Z | Heather Jones

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  • Title: Unusual Animals A – Z
  • Author: Heather Jones
  • Publisher: The Rhythm Child Network
  • Release Date: February 14th 2017
  • Pages: 32

Blurb

Award-winning Unusual Animals A-Z is quirky, imaginative, educational and just plain fun. Whether it’s Andre the aardvark or Zena the zorilla, each of these twenty-six unusual animals are part of a colourful A – Z adventure. Let the journey begin! 


Let’s face it – children nowadays are getting smarter and smarter by the minute! The digital age has taken over their lives like a storm. A two-year-old who can take photos using a mobile phone? Nah, no longer surprising! This little one happens to be my cousin. She knows the word “neighbour” at this age. Don’t think I was ever that smart then – na, ah.

Which brings me to why I think this book is extremely important to parents and adults out there who, like me, have to figure out new ways to attract the attention of the little ones in our lives – especially when it comes to learning something new.

Unusual Animals A – Z is a collection of facts and brief stories of 26 unusual animals, arranged alphabetically. The wonderful thing about this book is that most of the animals featured are not ones a child would usually learn on back at home, or even in their kindergarten. We would have taught them what is a horse, but have we ever thought of going to the next level by teaching them on a quarter horse?

Quentin and Quincy the quarter horses get their name because they can run a quarter mile faster than all the other horses in the world. After years of racing, Quentin and Quincy became rodeo horses where they learned how to perform ranch chores – and loved it!

Pretty cool, eh? Each animal introduced is accompanied by a vibrant watercolour painting (illustrated by Suraya Edmonds), a name (we met Quentin and Quincy already!) and a little story about them – which includes a fun fact!

Wilma the wooly mammoth loves the rain. It moistens her thick fur and cools her down. She uses her gigantic curly tusks to practice digging for berries.

Overall, it is a beautifully illustrated children’s book which is bound to teach the children in your life (and you!) a thing or two. Next time you’re looking for a good bedtime story, this could be just what you need! At the end of the book, you will also find an activity where your little ones could write down names they would like to give to the animals.

Give your hedgehog a H name.

I choose Hope – this book certainly carries much of it in abundance! Haha, will figure out a catchy name soon – or get my seven-year-old cousin to help me with it! Hoping for more great children’s books from you in the future, Heather.

Rating: 

I would like to thank Heather Jones, the author, for this review copy in exchange for my honest review!

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Review – Paracosm | Arina

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  • Title: Paracosm
  • Author: Arina
  • Publisher: Tun Suffian Foundation Incorporated
  • Release Date: May 6th 2017
  • Pages: 177

Blurb

Never hate yourself. Stop saying you’re not beautiful, it’s like you’re saying that God’s creations are hideous. If you are beautiful inside, no doubt your outside will shine. It just takes the right person to see it.


Paracosm is a heart-felt gem written by 17-year-old Puteri Fateh Arina Merican Megat Suffian Merican, the great-grandniece of Malaysia’s first prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj. A “paracosm” is said to be a detailed imaginary world, often associated to one’s childhood and unfolded by a turn of events.

Arina’s passion for writing and poetry grew ever since she was a little girl, and let’s just say that she has never looked back since. The first thing I noticed when I flipped through this cream-coloured hardback book is the colourful illustrations that filled its pages. Most of the drawings were produced by Arina herself, such personal touch and vibrancy deserves every bit of attention.

Why do you see the surface
But not what is within
Your eyes are unfair judges
They are mirrors filled with sin
Dark colours displease them
Dark colours and strange religions
No cloud is the same shape
No garden has the same flowers
Yet they glow with beauty
They glow with pride
Beneath the skin
Same structures of bone
No matter who tries to destroy you
Know
That you will never fight alone.

Arina writes with a certain level of boldness and persistence which is highly commendable. I can feel her eagerness on every page – the urgency to translate her thoughts into important messages for people of varying walks of life to read. The topics she covers spreads across – she speaks on her relationships with people, dreams, fears and the many challenges she has to face to be heard in a world heavily chained by societal norms.

Perhaps the crown I wear
Is a little old fashioned.

With withered silver leaves
And wilted gold lilies
There are no diamonds
Or rubies.

While others wear
A crown of garnets
And jewels
Mine is an antique
Of ancient legend
With the stories of my ancestors
Now leaving me
To find my own story.

Because I am the ink
On these pages
And the inspiration
Of my own legend.

All in all, this book breathes originality. There was so much thought put into not just the poetry writing, but in putting the book together as a whole. The poetry, visual art, photographs and even Arina’s old handwritten notes when she was just a 7-year-old! – a book to cherish by generations to come.

Sometimes the world is saved by only one good heart, not a million strong arms.

 

I would like to thank my good friend, Daniel Ariff Tung, for providing me a copy of this book to review. As a past scholar of the Tun Suffian Foundation, he felt that there is a great need to get the word out on this beautiful book – in which I absolutely agree. After all, proceeds from the book sales will be channeled towards awarding more deserving students to pursue their undergraduate and postgraduate studies. So the next time you pop into your nearby MPH or Kinokuniya bookstore, be sure to pick up a copy for RM30! Your contribution will make a difference in someone’s life.

Dearest Tok Mama

“Not all those who wander are lost.” – JRR Tolkien

But I get lost all the time.

Life is full of struggles, but do keep that passion of yours going, Arina. Aspiring to be a human rights lawyer one day, I do believe Paracosm is a huge first step for her to many promising things to come.

Rating: 

Review – Love & Happiness | Yasmin Mogahed

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  • Title: Love & Happiness
  • Author: Yasmin Mogahed
  • Publisher: FB Publishing
  • Release Date: May 1st 2017
  • Pages: 124

Blurb

Pain is real. And so is loss. Sometimes it’s hard not to let the weight of what we carry–or the memory of what we’ve lost–take over. Many of us know the reality of struggle, and so many people suffer in silence. It’s hard. It’s hard not to give up when we face the repeated disappointments of life. Like some of you, I’ve known loneliness. I’ve known defeat. I’ve fallen many times chasing mirages, and broken many bones making castles in life’s fading sands. Sometimes, all it took was one solid wave to destroy what I had spent years building.

So I decided to give it a voice. All of it: the tears, the pain. And the lessons. The things I saw and learned and gained along my life path needed a voice. I wanted to give back, in hopes of helping myself and others survive. But then it wasn’t just about surviving. I didn’t just want people to survive inside their storms. I wanted people to thrive inside their storms. And so I wrote, as I walked through my own.

The words found in this book became my voice and my letter to the world. They became my deepest attempt to, not just pick myself up, but others along the way. I wrote because, just as we will fall in life, so will we rise. That’s the thing about this world. It never gives us only one kind of path. There is pain. Yes. And loss. And even darkness. But there is also light. There is hope. There is beauty.

And there is also love and happiness.


Love & Happiness was an extremely quick read – I read it in one sitting! It is a compilation of reminders and quotes for everyday struggles and challenges. Having read and reviewed Yasmin Mogahed’s first book – Reclaim Your Heart, I would say that this second one is more like a summary of important messages from her previous book and her videos published online.

You spent your life looking for love. But one day you will realize that it was in those moments of giving – not receiving – that you found happiness.

The  book is filled with colourful pages of calming photos/graphics which makes it a very pleasant read. I strongly feel is not meant to be read just once. You should pick it up whenever you feel down or when you’re being put to a test. Its simple and straightforward advice can lift your spirits and make you feel more composed to think through your challenging situations.

We spend so much time asking God to cure us of our hardships. But we never stop to consider that our hardships are curing us.

I would highly recommend Love & Happiness for those who do not have time to spare on Reclaim Your Heart. The previous book is definitely much, much better in terms of content depth and explanation. I personally prefer it as there is a lot more to learn and it will leave you feeling whole. But having said that, I still feel Love & Happiness is a gem of its own and we can still benefit from it.

Good as a gift too – get it for your family members and friends! I’m sure they would appreciate this little piece of treasure to dive into when they need it the most. May we all find comfort in Yasmin’s words, and may we grow stronger and more focused in our life goals in every challenge we face. 🙂

When you’re real, God surrounds you with real.

And nothing less. That’s why He will remove people from your life, sometimes. That’s why He will close doors. That’s why He will put up impenetrable walls. Don’t ever think it’s to deprive you.

It isn’t.

Rating: 

Review – Reclaim Your Heart | Yasmin Mogahed

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  • Title: Reclaim Your Heart
  • Author: Yasmin Mogahed
  • Publisher: FB Publishing
  • Release Date: August 2012
  • Pages: 168

Blurb

Reclaim Your Heart is not just a self-help book. It is a manual about the journey of the heart in and out of the ocean of this life. It is a book about how to keep your heart from sinking to the depths of that ocean, and what to do when it does. It is a book about redemption, about hope, about renewal. Every heart can heal, and each moment is created to bring us closer to that transformative return. Reclaim Your Heart is about finding that moment when everything stops and suddenly looks different. It is about finding your own awakening. And then returning to the better, truer, and freer version of yourself.

Many of us live our lives, entrapped by the same repeated patterns of heartbreak and disappointment. Many of us have no idea why this happens. Reclaim Your Heart is about freeing the heart from this slavery. It is about the journey in an out of life’s most deceptive traps.

This book was written to awaken the heart and provide a new perspective on love, loss, happiness, and pain. Providing a manual of sorts, Reclaim Your Heart will teach readers how to live in this life without allowing life to own you. It is a manual of how to protect your most prized possession: the heart.


Yasmin Mogahed has a way of putting messages across extremely well – both through her written work and her speeches. She breaks down life’s most pressing issues into small bits for ease of understanding and reflection; and this very magic she brings has the power to make you think – think about your life, your struggles and your relationships with both God and the people you love and interact with every day.

Reclaim Your Heart was written based on her own personal experiences and insights. Yasmin has gone through a great deal of challenges which shaped her into who she is today – a firm believer of the power of love. However, she feels strongly that there are very specific ways on how we should address love to save ourselves from getting our heart broken over and over again. As she mentions –

Real love, as Allah intended it, is not a sickness or an addiction. It is affection and mercy. Allah says in His book: “And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquility in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for people who give thought.” (Qur’an, 30:21)

This book is for those who are longing for answers. For those desperate to find a way out from daily struggles concerning matters of the heart. From attachments, to hardships, to love and relationships with our Creator, the coverage is immense and engaging. With a stack of colourful sticky tabs in one hand and a tissue box at the side, you are sure to dive into these heartfelt pages with great longing for comfort and leave with good vibes in your heart. So much to learn and relate to – this is honestly how I feel about the book.

I must mention that there is a chapter specially dedicated to women’s status in Islam as well; a very important topic of conversation but in my opinion, not discussed enough among us.

So you are honored. But it is not by your relationship to men – either being them, or pleasing them. Your value as a woman is not measured by the size of your waist or the number of men who like you. Your worth as a human being is measured on a higher scale: a scale of righteousness and piety. And your purpose in life – despite what the fashion magazines say – is something more sublime than just looking good for men.

There is so much beauty in this book to discover. The language and explanations used are also very simple. At the end of the book, you will be greeted with a collection of poems by the author herself – a nice touch to end the reading experience.

If I let go, will You take me higher?

Above grief, want, loss.

Above all that I’ve ever known.

Take me higher. Unbind me from the earth.

Like a vaccine, it sickens, to make you stronger.

The stab is temporary. The freedom, eternal.

If you would like to get a snippet of what the book is all about, do watch Yasmin’s sharing entitled “What is Love?“. I’ve watched it twice and it has changed my view of love and life in general. I am looking forward to read Yasmin’s second book – Love and Happiness. 

Thank you Yasmin for this well-thought guide for life! 🙂

Rating: 

Review – Milk and Honey | Rupi Kaur

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  • Title: Milk and Honey
  • Author: Rupi Kaur
  • Publisher: Createspace
  • Release Date: November 4th 2014
  • Pages: 204

Blurb

Milk and Honey is a collection of poetry and prose about survival. It is about the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity. It is split into four chapters, and each chapter serves a different purpose, deals with a different pain, heals a different heartache. Milk and Honey takes readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them because there is sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look.


Rupi Kaur is well-loved for her poetry and illustrations. Milk and Honey is her first published book, a rather difficult one to write as she recollects her past experiences of rape and heartbreak.

if the hurt comes

so will the happiness

– be patient

Her story has four main parts – the hurting, the loving, the breaking & the healing. I picked up this book at a time when I really needed some good poetry to dive into. This, coupled with the fact that I have enjoyed reading some of the excerpts on social media, my expectations were high. I heard so many good things about the book too. (Don’t get too excited yet, finish reading my review!)

I must admit – the pain, trauma and recovery she went through were penned with truth and an edge of rawness I enjoyed. Unfortunately, her writing was not up to the standards I was hoping for from a poetry book. There were holes, too many to make you feel whole.

i need someone

who knows struggle

as well as i do

someone

willing to hold my feet in their lap

on days it is too difficult to stand

Her interpretation of love is very physical as well. I was longing for more emotional depth. I progressed but could not find it and this really disappointed me.

if you were born with

the weakness to fall

you were born with

the strength to rise

Having said that, there were a few poems I really enjoyed as you can see by my choice of excerpts for this review. Rupi’s second book, The Sun and her Flowers, will be released on the 3rd of October. Will I still give it a go? Yes of course; surprise me Rupi. Good surprise.

In the meantime, let’s appreciate this beautiful prose, my favourite one from Milk and Honey:

you are the faint line

between faith and

blindly waiting

– letter to my future lover

Rating: 

Review – To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before | Jenny Han

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  • Title: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
  • Author: Jenny Han
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Release Date: April 15th 2014
  • Pages: 355

Blurb

What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them… all at once?

Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.


Every woman needs a good chick lit every now and then no matter how old they get! After a few challenging months of 2017, I needed just that – to get my reading mojo back on track. Happy to report, this book certainly did the trick in getting me out of my reading slump. Warning: this is a cute and fluffy read. Not for the hard-hearted 😛

Lara Jean is your typical teenager. Having to juggle between her non-existent love life, family, and school – she needed a platform to vent her emotions. She finds comfort in words so for every crush she experienced, she wrote a love letter. Once she writes the letter, she would keep it in her little teal hatbox, hidden from the world. She repeatedly does this along her teen years – 5 times altogether.

“My letters are for when I don’t want to be in love anymore. They’re for good-bye. Because after I write in my letter, I’m not longer consumed by my all-consuming love… My letters set me free. Or at least they’re supposed to.”

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is a gem of its own. You will follow how Lara Jean is caught in situations where she has to deal with her previous love interests, and also potentially stumbling upon a few rekindles along the way. *hint hint* 

After her mother passed away, Lara Jean lived with her dad and two sisters – Margot and Kitty. I love the connection they share. The fatherly conversations. The strong sisterhood bond; backing each other up and diving into their many dramas together. There’s also Josh from next door, their childhood friend who is like family. The togetherness, care and love they share is very comforting. It makes you feel at home.

“Love is scary: it changes; it can go away. That’s the part of the risk. I don’t want to be scared anymore.”

You will dive into Lara Jean’s many ups and downs as she goes through her late teenage phase. May even remind you of how you were during that age – a trip down memory lane! We have all gone through this crazy roller coaster ride, haven’t we? One way or another – crush after crush, heartbreak after heartbreak. But the way we handle them plays a part in developing our emotional strength and maturity.

“When I write, I hold nothing back. I write like he’ll never read it. Because he never will. Every secret thought, every careful observation, everything I’ve saved up inside me, I put it all in the letter. When I’m done, I seal it, I address it, and then I put it in my teal hatbox.”

The story of Lara Jean is both entertaining and full of lessons. At times, the young perspectives may come off as rather immature, but please keep on going. I could hardly put down this book once I started reading it. It’s very raw and truthful.

“I wonder what it’s like to have that much power over a boy. I don’t think I’d want it; it’s a lot of responsibility to hold a person’s heart in your hands.”

I love the warm feeling it gives you. It reminds you that yes love is crazy, but it is sure as hell worth it.

The book ends with a cliffhanger so I would suggest you to get the sequel, P.S. I Still Love you, right away. A promising start to the series. Looking forward to see what the sequel has to offer!

Rating: 

Review – Letters to Home

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  • Title: Letters to Home
  • Editors: Ooi Kok Hin, Aish Kumar, Nik Mohamed Rashid Nik Zurin
  • Featuring letters by: Azalia Zaharuddin, Fikri Fisal, Ng Jung Kian, Aish Kumar, Zaryff Razali, Tan Heang Lee, Billy Hoo, Nurul Ismawi, Ooi Kok Hin, David Lim, Rexy Prakash, Tharmelinggem Pillai, Abdul Rahman Shah, Shamil Norshidi, Shahir Shukor, Benedict Weerasena, Nik Mohamed Rashid Nik Zurin, Achmad Bakhtiar M Yuni, Justin Lim Jia Tian, Sarah Syahirah binti Abdullah, Nizhan Faraz Rizal and Eddy Arief Zulkifly, Asyraf Muiz Roslan, Hasbullah Faudzi, Ian Chew, Izzat Adha, Puteri Eleni Megat Osman, Mohamad Syazwan Abdul Rahman and Mohd Izzuddin Ramli.
  • Publisher: Matahari Books (an imprint of Buku Fixi)
  • Release date: December 3rd 2016
  • Pages:234

Blurb

24 universities. 7 countries. 1 hope.
These are the voices of young Malaysians all over the world–penning down our dreams, fears, concerns, aspirations, and hope to our nation, our home.


If you know me well enough, you would have realised how much I love reading books written by local authors. It gives me a great sense of pride to see my fellow Malaysians contributing to the writing and reading community. What’s more, I feel responsible to share these great books to more readers – hence why I was more than happy to read and review this book.

Letters to Home is a collection of stories and thoughts penned by 30 young Malaysians who all have one major thing in common – hope for our beloved country, Malaysia. As you read these letters, you will come across them making a stand on topics close to heart, formulating their views and sharing their aspirations for the greater good of our community. Coupled with some bahasa rojak and light Malaysian humour, this was an enjoyable read!

If Malaysia was a Pokemon, Canada is what it might evolve into – Nizhan Faraz Rizal & Eddy Arief Zulkifly

The letters written are very distinct from one another, making it very refreshing to progress and dive into. From Malaysian politics, to education, to freedom of speech, to people disabilities etc. – there’s something in this book for everyone. Oh and may I add that I made it a point to read this book in public – just to give it some coverage it deserves. It was very promising to see Malaysians looking over curiously at the cover, and several even approached me to know more!

While our child law currently upholds the general rights of children in Malaysia, more reforms are needed to protect specific groups of children, including the children living in orphanages. – Puteri Eleni Megat Osman

Overall, I am extremely happy with the selection of topics included and have high hopes for more to be published in a similar manner – part two please! There’s so much to learn from the book and it is indeed an insightful source to kickstart healthy discussions with family and friends. Read it with an open mind and form your own opinions. Connect with the authors and immerse yourself with conversation. We Malaysian youths have so much more to do, learn and explore. Let’s keep on going.

Together, we can make a difference. – Rexy Prakash 

Rating: 

I would like to thank Buku Fixi and Matahari Books for this review copy in exchange for my honest review!