I am finally doing my May wrap up!!! I participated in the #AsianReadathon created by ReadwithCindy and found truly amazing books <3
I have finally updated the rating system wooo! I have added half stars as well. Here is an example:
Queenie- Candice-Carty Williams
Queenie is a book that everyone should read, especially if you are looking to read more Caribbean lit. Queenie is a book that will open your eyes to the microaggressions that Black people face. Microaggressions are things that may not seem overtly racist. They consist of prejudiced ideas of a certain group of people. It boils my blood when I see or read such encounters.
In this book, we follow Queenie who is navigating her life, dealing with work, mental health, familial issues, love and sex. She experiences so much which leads her to feel lost in life. Not knowing what is good for her, she finds herself making bad decisions. I felt myself getting irate at her actions but I also learnt to sympathise with her. From Queenie’s experiences, I realised that the expectations society put on an individual to be good can sometimes be more harmful than good. (especially when she was experiencing microaggressions) Throughout her experiences, Queenie learns who is always there for her through thick and thin. She learns to let go of toxic relationships, she grows so much as a character. I really loved how the book handled the topic of therapy and mental health. Queenie initially doesn’t find therapy helpful but later on, realises that it might be valuable to her after all.
The book was not trying to be preachy and state that “you have to be always good”. It really was more about how societal pressures can dampen a person’s individuality and identity. I really loved the overall message of the book to “love yourself before others”. I think everyone can take away some lesson from this book.
My only complaints would be the rather unnecessary lengthy descriptions of the sex scenes and the depiction of the few Muslim characters in the book.
The final empire- Brandon Sanderson
I finally read Mistborn and I am delighted to say that I understand why so many people adore this world. I really love the magic system. It is unlike anything I have read before!
***Warning: terrible explanation ahead***
In this world, allomancy is used to gain powers. Certain group of people known as the Mistborns can ingest metals such as iron, steel and tin to gain powers like soothing emotions. What a fascinating concept, isn’t it?! There are other ‘magical beings’ called the Inquistors and Mistwraiths as well.
This book starts off with one of the main characters, Kelsier blowing up a plantation. In this world, there are skaa (essentially slaves) who are taken advantage of by plantation owners. Seeing this, Kelsier plans to start an uprising to take down the evil government. Along the way, he forms a team with his friends and another main character, Vin. Vin is a character who has gone through a lot of suffering in the hands of her ‘master’ who engages in thievery to stay in power. (I might not be describing this that well) Upon a chance encounter with Kelsier, she discovers that she has the same powers as Kelsier. From then on, they team up to rebel against the government. The plan seems outrageous but as you go along, you understand why Kelsier is doing the things he is doing. I felt that his motivations were strong.
I found myself rooting for all these characters. Even if Vin made silly decisions, I still found her endearing. She was lost after her brother had abandoned her. She did not trust anyone easily but soon, she discovers that there is more to everything happening around her. Her character growth was done so well!
It is definitely one of my favourite fantasies out there. I cannot wait to continue on with the series.
It’s not about the burqa- Mariam Khan (ed.) et. al.
I am incredibly grateful for this book! I love the multifaceted discussions of Islam and what it means to women from various backgrounds. It is about Muslim women speaking up for themselves. It is about justice. This book subverted the Western gaze on Islam, showing that Islam is not about women being oppressed. It highlighted how the Western media only accepts certain aspects of Islam (“White-skinned liberal women who don’t wear the hijab”) and how wrong that is. Other types of Muslims exist too! I must say before I read this book, I was not 100% aware of the stereotype surrounding Muslim women. This book truly enlightened me and taught me to be more critical of the people around me. Apart from subverting the stereotypes, the book also brought across the topics of sexuality, religion being not the same as culture, marriages, feminism, love, divorce and racism. The stories impacted me so much, opening my eyes. The stories were told so eloquently and beautifully. I found myself angered, tearing up and smiling throughout the book. Many of the experiences struck a chord with me and I saw myself in the stories. If you couldn’t already tell, I deeply love this book and I think everyone should read it!!! I believe everyone would have something to take away from this book.
If I have not convinced you already, here’s how the book starts: “When was the last time you heard a Muslim woman speak for herself without a filter?”
House of Earth and blood- Sarah J. Maas
Such a letdown 🙁 Now, I have had mixed experiences with Sarah J. Maas books. I enjoyed some of her books and really disliked others. Still, I wanted to give her another chance. When I found out that she was writing an adult fantasy, I was so excited! I am always excited to explore the world of adult fantasy. However, after reading the book, I don’t really understand the hype around it? I did not have a pleasant time reading this book. From the beginning, I felt bogged down with all the details that were thrown in. It felt like everything was being “shoved down” my throat. The sentence patterns were something like this: a character gets introduced in the middle of a scene… goes on a long tangent on a random description or backstory of a character… goes back to the scene.
The sentence structure felt so disjointed and removed me from the scenes completely. I struggled to grasp what was going on and I felt my eyes glazing over the lengthy, unnecessary descriptions. I found myself not care much about any of the characters. Speaking about characters, I felt that Bryce was oversexualised and she was constantly described as a party girl. Sure, I have absolutely no problem with her being sex-positive and partying and stuff like that. BUT, when it is always brought up, it feels so exhausting to read.
The main plot of this book is about a mystery surrounding a horn and demon attack. We are also introduced to various mythological creatures such as archangels, demons, faes etc. I found those parts interesting and entertaining! If only all the lengthy descriptions were cut out and the book focused more on them. I also liked the interactions of Bryce and Hunt during some scenes. I liked their dynamics when they became good friends but did not really root for their romance unfortunately.
Anyways, when the truth behind the mystery was revealed, I was shocked initially but later, it became really convoluted. I get that Sarah J Maas wanted to tie everything up neatly but it felt like they were done very conveniently. The truth of Bryce’s identity was so unbelievable as compared to other creatures?! I am so sad that I did not enjoy this book but you might enjoy it more than me? I am most likely not continuing on with the series as I do not really feel attached to the characters and the world.
The prompts for the Readathon (I am overjoyed that I completed all of them woohoo):
Here are the books I read for #AsianReadathon!!!
Somewhere only we know- Maurene Goo
This was a fluffy meet cute story of Lucky and Jack. I like that they found happiness in each other. Throughout the story, while Lucky is enjoying her time with Jack, she makes a lot of self discoveries. Jack does too.
I like how the story highlighted what Kpop idols have to go through and it didn’t glamorise everything about Kpop. Being a fan of Kpop myself, I have heard of countless stories of idols treated unjustly. However, it is difficult for them to change much if the management does not wish to do anything about the situations. I like the spotlighting on how society holds the Kpop idols on a pedestal, expecting them to not date, not speak about their mental health and look a certain way. I like the little discussions between Lucky and Jack about being Korean American.
The descriptions about Hong Kong was really vivid too. It felt like I was visiting Hong Kong along with Lucky and Jack!
Apart from the romance, this book is about identity, culture and finding one’s footing in life when society places pressure upon you.
However, I didn’t feel that connected to the “relationship” between Jack and Lucky but that’s because I do not tend to like instalove anyway.
I think I will definitely read more from Maurene Goo!
The widows of Malabar Hill- Sujata Massey
If you have read my previous blog post, you would know how much I enjoyed this book and I can totally envision this on screen.
First, let’s talk about the main character, Perveen. She is an incredible character! I think she is definitely one of my most favourite characters ever. She is a truly independent, intelligent and strong character. This book is about her journey as Bombay’s first woman solicitor. In the early days, women being solicitors and lawyers was frowned upon. In the story, many men do look down on her and her abilities but Perveen does not back down. I really love that her parents were so supportive of her. In fact, her father was the one who encouraged her to be a lawyer!
This story spans two different timelines. In the past timeline, Perveen is dealing with her life as a law student. Without spoiling much, she experiences bullying as the only law student who is a woman. She initially loses her determination but later on, finds her ambition again. In the present timeline, Perveen is entrusted with a case involving three Purdahshin women who have been recently widowed. What seems like a simple mystery soon turns out be a more sinister one as she delves more into it. I found the mystery so exquisitely done. The motivations of each of the characters involved in the mystery felt real, believable.
Another thing that the book did really well was the exploration of various cultures such as the Calcutta culture and religions such as the Islam religion. I especially loved learning about the Purdahshin women. I was not aware of that aspect of Islam. Seeing the various cultures, languages and religions portrayed in the book made me so happy. It showed that India is a country that is diverse unlike what is often showed in media. I really loved this book and cannot wait to continue on with the series!
The henna wars- Adiba Jaigirdar
The Henna Wars was so freaking adorable!!! I am so happy that more books starring Bengali characters are being written!
This book follows Nishat, a Bengali-Muslim girl, who realises at a pretty early stage of her life that she likes girls. At the beginning, she takes the courageous leap to come out to her parents, after her cousin’s wedding. Her parents however, do not take her coming out well and their relationship becomes strained. While grappling with getting acceptance and love from her family, she finds herself getting a crush on Flavia, a new girl at her school. She is biracial- part Brazillian I believe!
Meanwhile, as part of her school curriculum, she is tasked to do a Business project. She decides that she would do henna designs as she is talented in drawing henna. (I LOVE HENNA) However, Flavia has decided to do henna designs too which rubs Nishat the wrong way. It felt like Flavia was stealing from her culture. This leads to them not getting along as Flavia refuses to understand Nishat’s perspective on culture appropriation. At this point, Nishat’s friends begin to question her as well. Growing frustrated, Nishat decides to do the project on her own.
Along the way, she deals with Chyna, a bully who dishes out a lot of microaggressions at Nishat and spreads rumors about her. Apart from that, a particular traumatising incident happens to her which makes Nishat question her identity.
I loved Nishat so much, she was so pure! She had so much guts. She always stood up for herself, even if she was afraid to. Her relationship with her sister was wholesome too. Priti was so supportive of her. Initially, Nishat’s friends and Flavia got on my nerves but later on, they became lovable characters. We love character growth! <3 Flavia was also grappling with her sexuality as well. I adored Nishat and Flavia’s dynamics!
The mountains sing- Nguyen Phan Que Mai
This book was so devastating, it is not for the faint-hearted. This book takes place during the Vietnam War – A multigenerational tale of the Trần family. As the communist government rose in the North, Trần Diệu Lan has to make the difficult decision to flee from her village. She is one of the main perspectives in this book. The other perspective is from her granddaughter, Hương. Hương lives with her grandmother and they are struggling to get by. It is really disheartening to read about the aftereffects of war and how it broke their family. As they are reunited with the other family members, a lot of emotions resurface.
Hương also has difficulty understanding what happened to her family. Later on, faced with the realities of the deplorable conditions her family and relative had to experience, she realises how devastating the war truly was. I love the ways she reconnected with her family and relatives. It was really heartening. The ending was also bittersweet, making me sad to let go of the characters.
The only problem was one of the twists at the end which felt rather dramatic but that’s just me! If you can handle it, I recommend this book! It highlights the harsh realities of the Vietnam War which many might not be aware of if they had not studied history.
That wraps up my reading for May! I am so happy with my progress and that I am reading more diversely! I hope to keep reading more and more diverse books. Till next time, take care! 🙂