❀August Wrap Up❀

Hello!!! I am back with the books I read in August. At this point, my reading is not going so well. *pauses* wait, I read more than I thought I did. So, here are the 8 books I read in August – no DNFs this month yay!!!

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The girl and the ghost- Hanna Alkaf

*** I was kindly sent the eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review ***

Hanna Alkaf is definitely my new auto-buy author!!! Her books are incredible. I am so grateful for getting the chance to read this ARC!

The story follows Suraya who is gifted a pelesit. She names the pelesit Pink (adorable!) and soon, begins to form an inseparable friendship with him. However, later on, she discovers that pelesits have a dark side. When Pink’s dark side surfaces while protecting Suraya, she realises that they must find enough light to survive before they are both lost to the darkness.

I adored the friendship between Pink and Suraya and, how much they cared for each other. It really felt genuine – they made mistakes and grew together. Their character developments were amazing too. Pink learns to overcomes the dark feelings he experiences while Suraya grows in confidence, learning to overcome her fear of making friends. We are introduced to another character, Jing. Jing is such a wholesome, bright-spirited girl. Her friendship with Suraya was wholesome. She respected Suraya’s feelings of fear. The sarcastic banter between Pink and Jing made me laugh out loud too.

The ode to Malaysian culture and Muslim religion was heartening to read about. Living in Singapore which has a similar culture to Malaysia, I could relate to many things. The little mentions to praying and halal food made me feel so happy. Muslims are so underrepresented in stories and are often misrepresented. So, books like this are precious. I am so grateful for this book. I believe when children read this book, they will find a home in it. I love reading and watching Asian folklore so learning about Pelesits was so interesting! I would definitely have to check out more Malaysian folklores!!

I highly recommend Hanna Alkaf’s books. They will always have a special place in my heart. I am eager to read her next book! <3

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To the boys who wear pink- Revan Badingham III

*** I was sent an eARC via BookSirens in exchange for an honest review ***

This book left me feeling very mixed. I enjoyed it but I also found some of the contents questionable. I get that the book is supposed to deal with heavy topics like drug addiction, drug abuse, sexual assault, rape, mental health issues (it wasn’t mentioned exactly), cheating, transphobia homophobia, fatphobia and more. I appreciated the fact that the author highlighted so many of these issues. However, I can’t say for sure if any of these issues were handled well as I am simply not in the place to say so.

In this book, we follow several points of view, mainly a group of popular high school students who decide to attend a high school reunion. Along the way, we switch from the present to the past for each perspective. I really liked this writing technique! I felt like it added so much to the story. I got to understand why certain characters felt the way they felt in the present day. I enjoyed reading from most of their perspectives. They all had their own struggles, many of which were heartbreaking to read about. I found myself crying a lot. There were also really sweet moments that made me smile. I cared for most of the characters. I loved the writing style- there were many amazing quotes as well.

Unfortunately, I didn’t care for some of the characters such as the twins, Long and Eyes. I know they are supposed to detested but their actions just grated on my nerves. It felt really random and nasty. I did feel bad for Eyes at certain points but in other points, I was angry at him. This led me to not care about him after a while. As for Long, he seemed unmemorable to me.

Apart from that, I didn’t like the fact that there was incest thrown in. I did not personally like that there was so many instances of cheating going on. It almost felt like cheating was excused as it was mentioned somewhere along the line that they are young and messed up. I didn’t really know what to feel about that.

Putting aside the aspects that didn’t do it for me, I liked how the story revolved around Pink! song lyrics. I thought it was brilliant and it was done exceptionally well.

I liked the discussion of sex work as well which I do not see much in books. Sex work is still looked down upon in society. So, reading about sex work from a strippers’ perspective was refreshing.

Anyway, I am glad that I read this book. I have been meaning to read from more queer Asian authors and I was delighted when I found out that the author is non-binary, (they/them) queer and Filipino. Though some aspects did not work for me, I would still recommend this book. Be cautious of the trigger warnings before reading this book! 

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Becoming- Michelle Obama

I knew I would adore this book before even going into it. I have always admired Michelle Obama. Back in 2018, when the book came out, there was tons of buzz around it. I am so happy I finally got a chance to read this wonderful book. This book made me realise why I admire Michelle Obama so much.

In her early years, Michelle Obama’s eagerness to learn and seek out knowledge reminded me of my childhood. This is one of the reasons this book is so dear to me. Her spirit of standing up for her rights and persevering no matter what she went through is truly inspirational. Her reflecting over her past experiences and finding the meaning behind them made me think that I wish I can be as wise as her in the future.

I learnt so much about the work she carried out as first lady especially growing healthy food in her garden to promote healthy eating and mentoring future students. Her work made me feel that there are still leaders out there who care about the well-being about people. With her generosity, she did so much for those around her and she remains humble, recognising her privilege. She made her own path despite being in the spotlight and being criticised for her actions. Iconic.

I felt like I was feeling the emotions along with her as I listened to her story. Her story really touched my heart and I believe it will do that to you too.

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Motherhood So White- Nefertiti Austin

This was another of the books that I chanced upon when I went to the library for the first time after lockdown ended.

I am incredibly glad I read this book. It definitely is a must-read. It tackles so many issues – racism, adoption, gender and parenting in America.

In America, Mother = White

That’s what Nefertiti, a single African American woman, discovered when she decided she wanted to adopt a Black baby boy out of the foster care system. Nefertiti was shocked when people started asking her why she wanted to adopt a “crack baby” or said that she would never be able to raise a Black son on her own. She realized that American society saw motherhood through a white lens, and that there would be no easy understanding or acceptance of the kind of family she hoped to build.

“White people in America had the power, so they made rules regarding which baby names were economically acceptable.”

It was heartbreaking to read how she faced so many challenges both from the black and white community. She mentions that she could not find any other experience similar to hers – a single black mother who wants to adopt. While struggling to deal with that, she faces backlash from within the black community as it is usually not common for single mothers to adopt in the black community. Despite all these challenges, she perseveres and seeks to find a path for herself.

There was no United States of America without Black mothers.

I loved reading about her inspiring experiences, especially how she stood up for herself when others made unpleasant remarks about her ability to be a single parent. Furthermore, she described how she had to go through so much for the adoption process to go through. This shed a light on my limited knowledge on the adoption process. She explains about how she learnt so much while parenting August, her son. I think that is the challenging thing about motherhood, about learning to take care of another life. At the same time, it is so powerful.

“Motherhood entailed so many decisions. Who knew? Even with my official paperwork complete, I was still learning.”

Another area this book tackles is the misconceptions about Black women. The line below sums up the message the author wants to bring across:

None of the women I spoke with knew a single Black woman who had successfully adopted solo, and assumed those who had had thousands of dollars in savings and owned a home—until they met me.”

She brings up transracial adoption which can cause so many problems if the parent(s) adopt without being culturally aware about the child’s background before adopting. This is extremely important! This reminded me of the incident earlier this year involving a YouTube star, Myka Stauffer who ‘rehomed’ her autistic son three years after adopting him from China. Imagine how the child is feeling!

And should you decide to adopt transracially, love does not conquer all. You must do your homework and become culturally competent about your child’s heritage.”

I could go on and on about how iconic Nefertiti is for adopting even with all the stigma attached to single parenting in the black community. I really hope more people would read her story.

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Get a life, Chloe Brown- Talia Hibbert

This book was pretty much outside my comfort zone. I don’t usually read pure romance books. BUT this was such a pleasant surprise!!! If you are not usually a romance reader, I would recommend this book. This book is a great one to start with if you are looking to read more romance books. Trust me, you will not be let down!

The star of the show is Chloe Brown, a computer geek who decides one day that she would “get a life”. She makes a list:

  • Moving out of her glamorous family’s mansion
  • Enjoy a drunken night out
  • Ride a motorcycle
  • Go camping
  • Have meaningless but thoroughly enjoyable sex
  • Travel the world with nothing but hand luggage
  • And… do something bad

But… she needs a teacher to help her out so she enlists the help of her landlord, Red Morgan. I know it seems cliche and you can predict how it is going to go but trust me, it is so worth it.

What I loved:

  • The discussion of mental health and chronic illness were handled tastefully. It is not often that I have encountered male mental health being discussed in a book. Reading about Red’s journey with his mental health was heartfelt. Talia Hibbert did not hesitate in showing the dark sides. Chloe’s journey with her chronic illness and her fear of making friends was something I loved to read. I felt like I was going through everything with her.
  • I adored Chloe and Red’s relationship. They cared so deeply for each other. I rooted for them throughout the novel. Seeing them growing together and learning more about each other made me swoon. Initially, they were attracted to each other but soon, they find out they have real feelings for each other. I found that dynamic sooo cute!!! The slight angst was on point.
  • The characters were so well-developed, I cared for every single one of them. I adored the relationship between the three sisters. They are hilarious! It makes me want to find out more about the other sister, Dani and Eve’s stories.

What I did not quite like:

  • I think I am not alone in thinking that the last few chapters felt a little rushed. I felt like a certain scene was thrown in there to “strengthen” their relationship. However, I do not think it was really necessary??? Perhaps, it would have made sense if it happened earlier. Oh well, I noticed this theme in some romance books and I am not a huge fan of it.

Anyways, read this if you haven’t already!!! (I am pretty sure most bookworms have read it by now XD) I cannot wait to read Dani and Eve’s stories.

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How death becomes life- Joshua D. Mezrich

It took me sooooo long to finish this book?! Perhaps, it was cause of the medical jargon. However, it was so worth it! I have always been interested in Medicine but I had not previously read any Medical non-fiction. When I chanced upon this book in the library, I knew I had to read it.

The book is generally about the life of transplant surgeon as well as an associate professor of surgery, Joshua Mezrich. Along with discussing about his experiences as a surgeon, he brings forward medical history (various inventions, clinical trials etc) and facts and, most importantly, advice to future medical surgeons.

I really liked how the book was structured – a piece of medical history was introduced, progressing to modern day, often including the surgeon’s experiences. It really gave the book an intimate touch. Often science non-fiction books are filled with too much technical facts which really bogs down my reading experience. I have probably lost interest in so many books because of this.

I liked that I learnt so much from this book. I barely knew about how surgeries of organs were done before this and the surgeons behind the medical breakthroughs. I learnt medical terms too which I would not have gotten the chance to unless I was in the medical profession. While reading this book, I gained more insight into how challenging (and draining) the work of a surgeon is. I cannot even begin to imagine the amount of work they have to do! Reading the hard work of the surgeons deepened my admiration and respect for them, especially the author.

The surgeon has a way of writing that makes you appreciate how far we have come as a society. To think, the concept of surgery was perplexing back in those days! For instance, he mentioned the use of animal organs to carry out transplantation in humans which is in fact extremely dangerous. This was when the concept transplanting of organs was relatively new. Later on, human organs from the dead were harvested for use in transplantation. (This took so many years!) It really makes you think how far medicine has progressed. This is one of the reasons why medicine is so fascinating. Medicine really makes the impossible possible.

The most interesting part of the book was finding about the surgeon’s experiences. He described how he dealt with death, grief, lack of sleep and so much more. I really loved listening to those stories. He highlighted the issues with surgery and transplantation when it came to people from minority groups. (This is still very much a problem in modern day.) I appreciated that he did but I do feel like he could have elaborated more.

I often felt that the book dragged at certain sections but that did not take away from my enjoyment of the book. I highly recommend this book especially to people who are interested in Medicine and Surgery.

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House in the cerulean sea- T J Klune

This was such a WHOLESOME book <3

It was a slow start in my opinion but when the story set off, I was deeply engaged with the story. I adore the characters so much, they were charming in their own way. They are probably one of my favourite characters ever.

This book takes place in a magical island. The main character, Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. He works as a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth and he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages. (so cool, isn’t it?)

One day, Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management and, given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage. In this Orphanage, six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus realises that he must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.

Along the way, he starts to notice that the island and the Extremely Upper Management harbor secrets especially surrounding the children.

This story is about a found family and finding one’s identity amidst societal misconceptions. I adored Linus’s character. Though he seemed like a spoilsport, seeing his character growing to enjoy himself with the children and Arthur was heartwarming. Linus changing from being closed off to trust the other characters really showed how beautiful their friendship was. Linus and Arthur’s relationship was of pure love and friendship which I adore!!! The children were so adorable especially Lucy. His “threats” were hilarious XD

What I love especially about this story is the message about not letting others tell what you should be. This is very much reflective about our society – many of us succumb to societal pressure. I love it when a book makes me feel and think so much at the same time.

I truly love this book and I think everyone should read it <3

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Ibitsu- Haruto Ryo

Do you ever read a book or watch a movie/show that makes you question yourself afterwards. Like: Why?! Why did you do that to yourself?! Well… I have had plenty especially when it comes to the horror genre. This manga made me feel that way unfortunately 🙁 I wanted to like it!! The premise was so twisted and I was interested in how the author would wrap up everything. I got to say that the ending was simply not to my taste. It scarred me… in a way that left a bad taste in my mouth. I usually do go into horrors expecting to be scared but this one was just too much for me.

Let me tell you what it is about. WARNING: this story is not for the light-hearted.

TRIGGER WARNING: a LOT of gore (I think every chapter has gore), death, self-harm, suicide, mutilation of body parts

The basic premise following an urban legend about a girl in Gothic Lolita garb who sometimes appears at local garbage drops in the middle of the night, asking a passersby, “Do you have a little sister?”. It is one of those urban legends whereby if you reply, there would be fatal consequences. So, the main character comes into contact with a Lolita one fine night and he replies. Soon after, he begins to notice that that she is everywhere around him. At first, obviously, he chalks it up to coincidence but his suspicion soon grows…

The characters were incredibly stupid. I did not understand why they did the things they did. The doll was so creepy and yet the sister somehow trusted her?! There were many scenes that were overly sexual for no reason at all which did not make the reading experience terrible.

Despite these bad aspects, there were certain twists that really put me on the edge of my seat. I was rooting for the main character nearing to the end. However, the ending was just left me feeling hopeless. I guess this book just was not for me and I should have realised it from the synopsis.

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Thank you for reading this post!! With Uni starting, I have lost the motivation to blog and read so expect more sporadic posts T^T Unless… I can salvage some time! Till next time, take care 😀

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