Review – Letters to You | Almaz A

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  • Title: Letters to You
  • Author: Almaz A
  • Publisher: Almaz
  • Release Date: August 1st 2016
  • Pages: 96

Blurb

Some people spend a lifetime looking for someone to call home. I found you.

Letters to You is Almaz’s debut poetry collection that narrates her journey to finding love by experiencing fear, hesitation, courage and ultimately letting herself freefall into the arms of her soulmate.


Sharing your love with someone is daunting, especially for those who have tasted its bitterness. Broken hearts doubt themselves and question the existence of true love. Though no matter how far deep this can swallow one’s self; there is always that longing to find love again. Love that can last. Love that can hold them together. Love that is encapsulated with hope, faith and courage.

And I’m trying, 

Trying so damn hard to unearth all the buried dreams I’ve forgotten about, 

Because I’m sure one of them was to love someone like you. 

Letters to You is a collection of poems written by the author for her lover. Every page draws you in with an array of emotions, peeking into memories of love you may relate to. As you immerse yourself into the book, you will see how beautiful love can unfold itself to, no matter how imperfect it may be.

You will always be that little piece of magic I carry with me wherever I go.

As I went on though, I realised that the poems were rather jumpy and sometimes repetitive; which could be seen as raw yet genuine. However,  I do believe that if there was more cohesion to it, the main message the author was trying to present could have been expressed more convincingly. Nonetheless, I must commend the author for stringing her words with so much heart, soul and honesty.

The book talks on old relationships, newfound love and all the securities and weariness in between. But most importantly, it is about the courage to believe again and experience love at its most fundamental. To allow it to take you through rain and shine; yet always finding a reason to smile at the end of the day.

I loved this book – read it in one sitting and kept on marking my favourite quotes as I progressed. I am definitely looking forward to more from this local author. Do read, and allow it surprise you with gems you may find.

 I fell in love with the way you held my hand and the way your breath whispered across my skin as you told me that 

it was okay to fall,

because our bodies may not have wings, 

but our souls already knew how to fly. 

Rating: 

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

Review – Adulthood is a Myth | Sarah Andersen

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  • Title: Adulthood is a Myth
  • Author: Sarah Andersen
  • Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
  • Release Date: March 8th 2016
  • Pages: 109

Blurb

Are you a special snowflake?

Do you enjoy networking to advance your career?

Is adulthood an exciting new challenge for which you feel fully prepared?

Ugh. Please go away.

This book is for the rest of us. These comics document the wasting of entire beautiful weekends on the internet, the unbearable agony of holding hands on the street with a gorgeous guy, dreaming all day of getting home and back into pajamas, and wondering when, exactly, this adulthood thing begins. In other words, the horrors and awkwardnesses of young modern life.


Adulthood is a Myth – do you think so? This book comprises of bite-sized comics suitable for those in their teens and early adulthood. It is such an enjoyable read! Absolutely hilarious, relatable and I read it in one sitting. Currently juggling between work life, study life and book blogging, I experience this a lot when I’m all zoned out after a tiring day –

sacomic

Some of her comics are more focused on women issues in general, so I do hope that in her next book, there’s a nice share of comics on men too! All the more fun when there’s a nice balance to it.

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Oh and have I mentioned how adorable Sarah’s drawings are? You will find yourself screenshot-ting/taking pictures of the comics as you go – excited to share it out with your family and friends – and share a good laugh!

Definitely suitable if you’re looking for a gift for a friend or for some light and fun read on a weekend. Looking forward to more comics from you, Sarah!

 “I’m pretty sure adulthood was a myth all along.”

Rating: 

Review – After You | Jojo Moyes

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  • Title: After You
  • Author: Jojo Moyes
  • Publisher: Penguin
  • Release Date: June 30th 2016
  • Pages: 409
  • Prequel: Me Before You

Blurb

How do you move on after losing the person you loved? How do you build a life worth living?

Louisa Clark is no longer just an ordinary girl living an ordinary life. After the transformative six months spent with Will Traynor, she is struggling without him. When an extraordinary accident forces Lou to return home to her family, she can’t help but feel she’s right back where she started.

Her body heals, but Lou herself knows that she needs to be kick-started back to life. Which is how she ends up in a church basement with the members of the Moving On support group, who share insights, laughter, frustrations, and terrible cookies. They will also lead her to the strong, capable Sam Fielding—the paramedic, whose business is life and death, and the one man who might be able to understand her. Then a figure from Will’s past appears and hijacks all her plans, propelling her into a very different future…

For Lou Clark, life after Will Traynor means learning to fall in love again, with all the risks that brings. But here Jojo Moyes gives us two families, as real as our own, whose joys and sorrows will touch you deeply, and where both changes and surprises await.


*Warning: Contains major spoilers from Me Before You and minor spoilers from After You.*

Me Before You is — hands-down one of my favourite contemporary reads of 2016. So when I knew there was going to be a sequel, GAHHHHH I was extremely excited.

With the death of one of the main characters from the first book, I didn’t really know what to expect from this one. But I felt that it has to be really good — cause why would we have a sequel for a book which had an incredibly good closure already?

Unfortunately, After You did not meet my expectations.

After You is largely about Lou – the story of her life after Will. The challenges she went through, her many discoveries, and her relationships with new people. Don’t get me wrong; I love the purpose of the book – sharing her story and showing how she has grown after the incident. However, I do feel that there should have been so much more depth in the plot. It feels rather unreal.

“I failed you, Will. I failed you in every way possible.” 

The plot was clunky and patchy. There was an introduction of an entirely new character which had zero connection with all the existing characters – Will’s daughter (like whaaaaaaaa–t?). It was not well-thought and the lack of continuity from Me Before You was distasteful. There was no solid direction throughout the book. There were many times when I felt – where is this story going? 

You may feel connected to Lou in ways where you can relate to her, and that’s okay. But this story should be so much more than her having to deal with an annoying, immature teenager and a terrible boss. It should more about Lou, rather than putting her character through “other people’s problems”. Didn’t Will give her enough difficult time already?

I felt her character needed more strength, vision, and empowerment. Where is that scene where she breaks free from all things pulling her back and make a real stand for herself? Where is the build up to something so amazingly surprising it would just keep you on your toes?

Even if I managed to wipe the whole thing from my memory, I would never be allowed to disassociate myself from Will’s death.  

I am disappointed with this sequel. I wish an epilogue was written at the end of Me Before You instead, rather than this long-winded book which did not do the prequel justice.

This is the part where I tell you that if you really want to know what happened to Lou, you should read this. I don’t have the heart to though. Me Before You is good enough as a very strong standalone. I believe Will would agree with me on this.

Pieces of him in pieces of me. Pieces of him where they shouldn’t be.

Rating: 

I would like to thank Penguin Books Malaysia for this review copy in exchange for my honest review!

Review – We Were on A Break | Lindsey Kelk

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  • Title: We Were on A Break
  • Author: Lindsey Kelk
  • Publisher: HarperCollins
  • Release Date: October 6th 2016
  • Pages: 416

Blurb

Is it a break? Or is it a blip? ‘You’ve just had a holiday,’ I pointed out, trying not to yawn. ‘Wasn’t that enough of a break?’ ‘I don’t mean that kind of break.’ There’s nothing worse than the last day of holiday. Oh wait, there is. When what should have been a proposal turns into a break, Liv and Adam find themselves on opposite sides of the life they had mapped out. Friends and family all think they’re crazy; Liv throws herself into work – animals are so much simpler than humans – and Adam tries to get himself out of the hole he’s dug. But as the short break becomes a chasm, can they find a way back to each other? Most importantly, do they want to?


Before you ask, no this book has nothing to do with Friends, so sorry to disappoint dear fans! Having said that, I do feel the author should have acknowledged Ross’ well-known phrase “We Were on A Break” from the TV series. It would have been so much more fun for the readers! I talked to a few people on this and they did feel the no-mention was unforgivable. If there WAS a reference, I’m sorry but it was a no-show for me.  😦

We Were on A Break is a story on Liv and Adam. They have been dating for quite some time now and as they reach a certain stage of their relationship, the pressure to tie the knot mountains – both from family and friends, and internally as well. This book encompasses a truckload of emotions surrounding the expectations and everything that goes along with it. Love does, make the world go round. (Oh and a couple of crazy friends help with that too.)

HAS HE DONE IT YET?????????

My favourite part of this book is definitely the characters. There were so many good ones and each played a meaningful part in the overall story.

Plot wise, it did have a good direction to it but there wasn’t exactly anything out of the ordinary. It was a bit too typical and immature for my liking, to say the least.

The writing was great – nicely paced and understandable. Unfortunately, I did find it rather confusing (and annoying) at times when it came to the narrations. It was very difficult for me to distinguish between Adam and Liv’s voice as the swaps were not clearly stated and most of the time I could only guess at the end of first page into the chapter.

Sometimes, I realized, life didn’t work out quite how you’d imagined it would. 

And sometimes life was all the better for it. 

Overall, if you’re someone like me who rarely reads Chick Lit and have super high expectations for one worth my time, you can give this one a miss. I did enjoy the read, but it wasn’t memorable. But if you’re really into Chick Lit, by all means you could give this a try. I’m pretty sure you would enjoy the humour and lightness to it.

“I knew I should have taken her a pizza instead of flowers.”

Rating: 

I would like to thank Harper Collins International for this review copy in exchange for my honest review!

Review -The Throne of Ledang | Iskandar Al-Bakri

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  • Title: The Throne of Ledang
  • Author: Iskandar Al-Bakri
  • Publisher: Buku Comel
  • Release Date: October 1st 2015
  • Pages: 229

Blurb

The legend of the Princess of Mount Ledang is the best-known and best-loved folklore in Malaysia. In 1488, news of her timeless and incomparable beauty reaches the ears of Sultan Mahmud Shah, the eighth Sultan of Malacca, who immediately dispatches an entourage to seek her hand in marriage. She agrees, only on the fulfillment of several bizarre conditions within a year.  His majesty was tasked to prepare seven barrels of mosquito’s liver, maiden’s tears, areca juice, hearts of germs, a golden bridge spanning the distance between Mount Ledang and Malacca, and a cup of royal blood from the Sultan’s infant prince as His Majesty’s wedding gifts. The night before the year’s end, the Sultan had all but one condition to fulfill; to prepare a cup of royal blood. His Majesty holds his son’s head and prepares himself to slit the boy’s throat. Magically, the princess appears and angrily tells him that she would not marry a man who would murder his own son. 

All is lost, and the bridge, after several generations, is forgotten. 

In 1875, Indera Sakti, a secret society with ambitions to seize political control of the entire Peninsula, mounts a quest to claim the twenty-six mile long golden bridge. Darul Kubra, a brotherhood of noble warriors, fights them to the bitter end. 

This is a story about the adventures of a young rope maker and a slave, Izz and Purnama, who are drawn into the hunt for the greatest treasure in Malay Literature that would ultimately change the course of their lives. 


I have so many things to say, but I too want to keep this spoiler-free so that you will be able to enjoy this great book as much as I did.

“Clear your mind and think about it slowly,” Che Khalid advised.

Thanks, Che Khalid. I know I can count on you!

It gives me great inspiration and pride when I come across a Malaysian author, especially one who writes exceptionally well in English. The feeling is even greater when the book is about Malaysia – and in this case, Malaysian folklore, which I, as a youth in my early 20s, still have so much to explore!

Puteri Gunung Ledang is one of Malaysia’s most talked-about folklore. Our community has always used different mediums to share this legend to the world – through movies, music and even theatre. So your next question might be – is this book a retelling of the legend, similar to ones we’ve seen before? Yes and no. Yes because it does give a fresh new perspective on the conditions given by Puteri Gunung Ledang to Sultan Mahmud Shah when he asked for her hand in marriage, and no because the setting of the story is generations after the setting of the legend in 1488. The Throne of Ledang is a totally new work of fiction in extension to the original Puteri Gunung Ledang, and set in 1875.

This book was slightly difficult to get into at the beginning because I didn’t really know what to expect. I had the impression it was going to be a rather heavy story.

“From this day forth I shall no longer be known as Radin Mas Merah. You may call me Ibunda.”

But as I went on, it was certainly very far from that. The Throne of Ledang is engrossing and educational. Even though it is fictional, it is so satisfying to learn on the many things the Malaysian community was involved in at that point of time. Be it strong bonds of brotherhood, the colonization of the British, Islamic teachings, the use of black magic, traditional medicine, or even silat, the Malay art of self-defense – there was never a dull chapter. It was full of great discoveries, adventures and so much learning! You would be glued to it for hours.

The author went in depth on slavery in Malaya too, which is often not talked about. The breakdown of why and how it was practiced – you would be caught taking sides and debating in your head. You will find yourself forming your own opinions, as you take in more and more of such pressing issues along the way.

In between all that “heaviness”, you will find fun riddles and heart-warming romance which is sure to keep you entertained. Blossoming friendships, acceptance among young children and the teamwork among villagers – the entire community setting brings a homely feel to the story.

“Wouldn’t be lovely if we could live up there among the stars?” Purnama asked. 

Nothing but love for this book. I highly recommend this to everyone – those in search for something closer to home and to readers out there who are interested in a glimpse of Malaysian folklore! You will be enlightened, amazed and engrossed.

And in the blink of an eye, she was gone. 

Here’s to many, many more great local reads ahead!

Rating: 

I would like to thank the author, Iskandar Al-Bakri, for this review copy in exchange for my honest review! Iskandar Al-Bakri is also the writer of The Beruas Prophecy.

Review – Grief is the Thing with Feathers | Max Porter

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  • Title: Grief is the Thing with Feathers
  • Author: Max Porter
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber
  • Release Date: September 17th 2015
  • Pages: 114

Blurb

In a London flat, two young boys face the unbearable sadness of their mother’s sudden death. Their father, a Ted Hughes scholar and scruffy romantic, imagines a future of well-meaning visitors and emptiness.

In this moment of despair they are visited by Crow – antagonist, trickster, healer, babysitter. This self-described sentimental bird is attracted to the grieving family and threatens to stay until they no longer need him. As weeks turn to months and physical pain of loss gives way to memories, this little unit of three begin to heal.

In this extraordinary debut – part novella, part polyphonic fable, part essay on grief, Max Porter’s compassion and bravura style combine to dazzling effect. Full of unexpected humour and profound emotional truth, Grief is the Thing with Feathers marks the arrival of a thrilling new talent.


“I saw my best friend cry over her dead dad.”

“I lost my own sister 2 years back.”

“I lost my close uncle yesterday.”

“I lost my twin brother 4 years ago. He died because of kidney failure. He was a fighter.” 

Grief is inevitable. The above are real stories from my own bookish friends. We’ve all gone through grief at least once in our lives. Question is, how do we heal?

My biggest worry right now is screwing up this review BECAUSE I NEED ALL OF YOU TO READ THIS BOOK RIGHT NOW AND PLEASE LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU THI- okay, you get the picture.

This book is by far the most unique book I have ever read so trust me, you need to read it as soon as you can. You need to read it at least once in your life. But once you do, you need to read it again, and again, and again.

When you’re happy,

When you’re sad,

When you want to make your next hour magical and consuming; in a train on the way to work, while waiting for your loved one to finish with their shopping, or just well – whenever.

Just please, just – read it.

Grief is the Thing with Feathers is story on how a crow helps two young boys and their father recover from their mother’s recent death and threatens to stay until the moment the family no longer needs him. Why a crow? The writer feels very strongly for this bird and believes that it acts as a good intermediary to bring the boys and their father together during this tough time. To help them cope and heal; a strong and bold symbol of hope. The story is not fluffy and full of sunshine – if that’s your idea of a book which can help you feel better. It’s raw yet hopeful. It’s truthful and convincing. Pages and pages of unexpected sadness, and cold, hard truths, but beyond that you will find humour, good memories and a breath of fresh air.

“Moving on, as a concept, is for stupid people, because any sensible person knows grief is a long-term project.”

Ironically, this story is very short – literally bite-sized, but it’s jam-packed with original and elegant prose entwined together.

The young boys are fragile. The father is putting up a strong front, but he is weak inside. You will see through all their insecurities, their thought process, their nightmares; even the crow’s. You will find comprehension questions at one point, and then suddenly come across funny sentence structures. It’s messed up and human. It’s a true reflection of grief. You will feel their sadness and struggles. You will be immensely consumed.

“the boys shouted

I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU

and their voice was the life and song of their mother.”

I love this book even more because words matter to the writer. While many authors seem to focus more on the overall story (in my opinion), I really appreciate it when more thought is put into stringing good sentences. When writing is done right, it really shows. So much beauty in the story, exactly what you’ll find in Grief is the Thing with Feathers. Not just words which are nicely printed on paper, but words which actually feel good in your head.

“Again. I beg everything again.”

It swallows you whole from the very beginning into a world you’ve never quite been before. It’s loud, it’s daring, it’s confident. It’s full of crazy words, and even crazier sentences; and will make you think – how did one piece it all together and still made sense? It will make you question all your earlier reading choices – I need to find more books like this. 

“Unfinished. Beautiful. Everything.”

This is the kind of book I would bring along a Dead Poets Society meeting. I have found it O Captain, my Captain! I will certainly treasure this work of art forever.

Rating: 

I would like to thank Faber & Faber for this wonderful review copy in exchange for my honest review!

Review – Barefoot on the Wind | Zoë Marriott

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  • Title: Barefoot on the Wind
  • Author: Zoë Marriott
  • Publisher: Walker Books
  • Release Date: September 1st 2016
  • Pages: 313
  • Companion Novel: Shadows on the Moon

Blurb

A companion title to Zoë Marriott’s critically acclaimed Shadows on the Moon, BAREFOOT ON THE WIND is a darkly magical retelling of “Beauty and the Beast” set in fairytale Japan.

There is a monster in the forest…

Everyone in Hana’s remote village on the mountain knows that straying too far into the woods is a death sentence. When Hana’s father goes missing, she is the only one who dares try to save him. Taking up her hunting gear, she goes in search of the beast, determined to kill it – or be killed herself.

But the forest contains more secrets, more magic and more darkness than Hana could ever have imagined. And the beast is not at all what she expects…


Let’s face the fact, I love a good retelling. It transports me back to my childhood days. It reminds me of the crazy things I used to do as a kid. It takes me home to this little part of my soul which is forever stuck in Neverland. When I came across Barefoot on the Wind, I knew I just HAD to get my hands on it…. and guess what? I absolutely loved it!

“There is a monster in the forest…”

Set in fairy tale Japan, Hana lives with her parents in a remote village on the mountains. She is on the road of self-discovery, still torn by the death of her older brother, Kyo. Ever since he was taken away by the monster in the forest, her family was never the same again. Hana always tries to be the “son” of the family, doing her very best to impress her parents, especially her father who strongly believes Hana is the reason behind his only son’s death. One night, Hana’s father was captured by the monster too, and the villagers started despising her family, believing they bring bad luck. Not one person wanted to lend in a hand to help her father, not even the bravest of men.

Barefoot on the Wind is a Beauty and the Beast retelling from a feminist perspective – empowering and enthralling. To put it simply – in the traditional fairy tale, innocent Belle did not come to the Beast on her own free will. Yet, even after taking her father as a prisoner, the Beast was lucky enough to have been awarded with her love. In Barefoot on the Wind, dear Hana went into the forest on her own free will to save her father and falling in love is last on her list of priorities. This story is very empowering and you will definitely love Hana’s brave ways.

Be wary if you ask favours of the Moon. She does not grant our wishes. She answers our prayers.

I really enjoyed the Asian twist to it. The characters are Japanese and you will get a fairly good glimpse of their culture and lifestyle. The food they eat, the clothes they wear; the little things which make them who they are. As an Asian myself, I really appreciate Zoë’s research and effort in bringing these characters to life and closer to home.

The writing of the story is simple and very easy to follow. Believe it or not, this is the very same story I told my little 5-year-old cousin when she came over for a sleepover at my place. I told her about Hana, about Itsuki, and about the monster in the forest. She was instantly attached, just like how I was too. The flow is really good and you would find this book difficult to put down. I enjoyed how the chapters were not too long too. The scenes were straight to the point and fast paced, yet perfect in unraveling the mystery – who is the monster in the forest? 

I feel very strongly for the characters. Each and every one of them introduced played a part in bringing everything together. It makes you feel whole. The development of the main characters were very in depth.

The romance was spot on too. It was gentle and kind. Attached and soulful. It is every bit of a mystery you would love in a good romance story. Every bit of sweetness you can find in the relationship between two people. And when they finally hold hands and it sends warmth in your heart, you know the writer did a magnificent job.

And he will kiss me again, I thought, almost dizzy at the wonder of it. He will kiss me a thousand times more, and in a thousand ways.  

Above all, this is a story on relationships and self-discovery. A story of faith restoration, forgiveness and determination. You will find love and comfort in every step and every turn, every chapter of this gripping tale.

“Because you still have work to do. You never needed to tell me that. Your father may have seen you in his dreams, my little flower, but I have always seen you in my heart.”

You will feel drawn to the book, attached to the characters and immersed in their adventures. This is definitely a winner for me. This is one retelling you should not miss!

Rating: 

I can’t thank Walker Books enough for sending me this amazing review copy in exchange for my honest review!