Being a better person

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Being a better person,

falling into the skin of a better ‘you’

is what takes most courage,

 

We can be our truest, most authentic selves,

if we rest in the belief

that we are capable and we are enough,

 

we can realize our potential for greatness,

if we don’t hold on to everything that passes us by,

but let the weight go

when it isn’t meant to stay.

~ Saadia

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Loss of meaning & Loneliness

Life seems to mean so little,

in our cities of material excess,

the silk curtains that keep the light out

are our cages,

our narrow circles, our shackles.

 

Yet we are happy with false friendships

and falser values,

we register a heavenly day

when the sun has already set,

and so we trudge back to our now comfortable cells.

 

We’ve been deceived by billboards

and the American dream,

in a world of hyper-connectivity,

we are lonelier than we’ve ever been.

~ Saadia

 

Top 10 books for Beginners / New Readers

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Here’s a list of books with a lucid/ easy to understand writing style, no complex world-building and yet are deeply impactful. These are perfect for new readers or beginners searching for simple books to start with. Having said that, these are also some of the best books I’ve ever read.

  1. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness: This book tells the story of a boy struggling to cope with the consequences of his mother’s illness. Written in the most simplest of manners, it is an easy and gripping read (under 214 pages.) This book is a work of art, showcasing how simplicity is indeed the ultimate sophistication.

And if no one sees you, are you really there at all?

Get it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2RrKfCd

2. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini: Set in war-torn Afghanistan, this mesmerizing, fast paced and heartbreaking novel is a rollercoaster of emotions, mostly anger, at a dysfunctional society made more so by war. It weaves together social stigma, sisterhood, loss, love for one’s country, the role of women in the Afghan society, self-sacrifice, hope and trauma. This may seem like a daunting novel but it’ll make you love reading like no other book can.

” One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs or the thousand splendid suns that hid behind her walls” – Al Beruni

Get it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/31MDwre

3. Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella: tells the story of a teenage girl suffering from acute social anxiety and depression and how her life changes for the better. This book is written in a simple, easy to understand, fast-paced manner; with inserts of text messages, making it more interesting. Even though it deals with a hard topic, it is a fun read that one keeps coming back to.

“The trouble is, depression doesn’t come with handy symptoms like spots and a temperature, so you don’t realize it at first. You keep saying ‘I’m fine’ to people when you’re not fine. You think you should be fine. You keep saying to yourself: ‘Why aren’t I fine?”

Get it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2L0rULz

4. The Harry Potter Series by J.K Rowling: Written in a charming, imaginative manner, this series is an upward graph for a new reader. I read the 7 books in a week when I first got my hands on it and reread them from time to time. These books have been spellbinding (pun intended) for millions of people worldwide and are on the top of the ‘books you should read before you die’ list.

“Have you any idea how much tyrants fear the people they oppress? All of them realize that, one day, amongst their many victims, there is sure to be one that rises against them and strikes back”

Get it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2ZC0aRw

5. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell: A beautiful, hard-hitting and coming of age book following Eleanor, a chubby, 16-year-old girl with curly red hair, and Park, a half-Korean, 16-year-old boy; this book deals with different social classes, domestic abuse and young love. It is a one of a kind book which makes the reader come back to it again and again.

“Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.”

Get it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Rn050W

6. Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordian: Equal parts fun and profound, Rick Riordian’s writing style is a gift to mankind. His characters are beautifully written, the story arc executed with immense skill and his books are perfect for middle-graders, young-adults and adults alike.

“Wow,” Thalia muttered. “Apollo is hot.” 
“He’s the sun god,” I said.
“That’s not what I meant.” 

Get Book 1 on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2ZGybAd

7. The Famous Five Series by Enid Blyton: The most concise and fun adventures are found within the pages of this series, each book around 200 pages. These books leave you refreshed and satisfied with beautiful countryside imagery, delicious food and marvelous exploits.

“The best way to treat obstacles is to use them as stepping-stones. Laugh at them, tread on them, and let them lead you to something better.” 

Get Book 1 on Amazon for Rs 158: https://amzn.to/2ZJtMfV

8. The Outsiders by S.E Hinton: One the best books I read this year, this outstanding coming-of-age novel is equal parts adventure and revealing of society’s brutal follies. Dealing with gang-culture, dysfunctional families, drug abuse and adolescence, this book will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading it.

“Maybe the two different worlds we lived in weren’t so different. We saw the same sunset.” 

Get it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Y4c2eA

9. The Divergent Series by Veronica Roth: A well written dystopia, this triology is based in a society that defines its citizens by their social and personality-related affiliation with five different factions, which removes the threat of anyone exercising independent will and threatening the population’s safety. (source-wikipedia). Beatrice ‘Tris’ Prior navigates the dangers of being divergent while trying to survive in her new faction.

When I first read this book, I remember thinking and being in wonder at how perfect Roth’s writing style was. Perfect for a new reader,this book deals with self-dicovery, young-love, society and social issues. A critic claims, “No one can argue that Divergent is not a fun, edge-of-your-seat read. It is easy to get submerged in, effortless to remain engaged in, and impossible not to enjoy even the slightest bit.”

“We believe in ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another.” 

Get the series on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Rw4BdO

10. Heidi by Johanna Spyri: Heidi is written in a freely flowing, imaginative and well-paced style. The character building is effective and true to real life. Even though it is a children’s fiction, it can easily and competently be read by people of all ages with immense enjoyment. It encompasses the themes of Family and relationships, Empathy and Religion (Christianity). It is written in a simple, unaffected manner and calls for several re-reads for the pure joy that oozes out of its pages.

“The happiest of all things is when an old friend comes and greets us as in former times; the heart is comforted with the assurance that some day everything that we have loved will be given back”

Get it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Rz5JNT

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Recommendations from other readers:

  1. Fatimah, Kashmir (Instagram: @fatimahbatul.7) : The Harry Potter Series, The Grisha Triology, the Hunger Games, Coraline, Norse Mythology, The Kite Runner, Six of Crows, Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe.
  2. Kat, USA (Instagram @fieldsofliterature) : Jane Eyre, Fangirl, Everything Everything, Pride and Prejudice.
  3. Maira, Pakistan (Instagram @maira.reads) : The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, Kaise West’s novels, the Harry Potter Series.
  4.  Abbie Ruis, USA (Instagram @epochnovels): The Wrath and the Dawn Duology by Renee Ahdieh (magic, fantasy, adventure, friendship, romance.) Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (well-written characters, banter is off the charts, fighting is kickass), An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir ( political corruption, violence, Ancient Rome), Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco (YA historical fiction).
  5. Tanya, Australia (Instagram: @pagestoberead) : The Harry Potter Series, The Kite Runner
  6. Fatima, New York (Instagram @starry_tima) : The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.
  7. Miran Gulzar, Kashmir (Instagram: @miran_gulzar): Letters to Young Poets by Rainer Maria Rilke (highly recommended), Old man and the sea by Ernest Hemingway, The Room on the Roof by Ruskin Bond, The Little Prince, Maus (graphic novel).
  8. Ruby, England (http://rubysbooksblog.wordpress.com/) :A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, City of Bones by Cassandra Clare and The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller.
  9. Sadiya, Kashmir (Instagram @salazarsaddler) : The Goosebumps series.
  10. Nel, UK (Instagram: @nelwhichcraftsbooks): The Harry Potter Series, The Twilight Series.
  11. Ifreen Raveen, Kashmir (Instagram: @ifreen.raveen) The Famous Five series, Sophie Kinsella’s books.

Happy reading.

~ Saadia

 

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare – Book Review

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“Will rose slowly to his feet. “If there is a life after this one,” he said, “let me meet you in it, James Carstairs.”

Danger and betrayal, secrets and enchantment, and the tangled threads of love and loss intertwine as the Shadowhunters are pushed to the very brink of destruction in the breathtaking conclusion to the Infernal Devices trilogy. – Goodreads

Genre: Urban fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Young Adult.

Review: I rated this book 3/5 stars, the major reason being the beautiful, heart wrenching and haunting portrayal of Will and Jem’s parabatai bond. Other than that, the plot wasn’t mind-blowing in any sense; rather it was melodramatic throughout the 3 books in the series. The storyline was predictable and many chapters seemed to add nothing to the story. The story arc wasn’t executed well; the ending felt compromising and the antagonist was shallow, with vague reasons for his evil plans. Considering the hype surrounding it, it didn’t live up to the expectations.

While the book isn’t slow-paced, some scenes are stretched out without reason which hinders the flow of the story. Clare followed through with several annoying tropes that made this book reminiscent of SJ Maas books.

This book and this series are often portrayed as better than the Mortal Instruments. This can be seen in the fact that the protagonist isn’t as annoying and that the parabatai are closer and more true to the definition. But the plot of The Mortal Instruments series is more varied and adventurous than TID even if it suffers from (more) aggravating tropes.

On the brighter side, Tessa and Will’s shared love of books and poetry was shown well; with the reader being introduced to some beautiful verses from Chaucer, Milton, Shakespeare and Tennyson. Will’s memories of Jem’s love, kindness and patience for him saved the book for me, personally, because the emotions were dealt with beautifully, with raw and mesmerizing depiction of brotherhood and a family beyond blood. The epilogue is beautifully written and tugs at the heart-strings, so do some paragraphs listed below. Will’s and Jem’s character was crafted with fascinating charm and makes the reader care for them with intensity.

I’d recommend this book to anyone who likes reading about Families, Paranormal romance, Poetry, Victorian Literature and Love Triangles.

Themes:

  1. Victorian Society and women’s position in it
  2. Family
  3. Self-discovery
  4. Friendship
  5. Love
  6. Magic & Fantasy

“And now I need you to do for me what I cannot do for myself. For you to be my eyes when I do not have them. For you to be my hands when I cannot use my own. For you to be my heart when mine is done beating.”

“She leaned forward and caught at his hand, pressing it between her own. The touch was like white fire through his veins. You kindled me, heap of ashes that I am, into fire. He had wondered once why love was always phrased in terms of burning. The conflagration in his own veins, now, gave the answer.”

“Bright star,” Magnus said, and his eyes were thoughtful, as if he were remembering something, or someone. “Those of you who are mortal, you burn so fiercely. And you fiercer than most, Will. I will not ever forget you.”

“You know that feeling,” she said, “when you are reading a book, and you know that it is going to be a tragedy; you can feel the cold and darkness coming, see the net drawing tight around the characters who live and breathe on the pages. But you are tied to the story as if being dragged behind a carriage and you cannot let go or turn the course aside.”

Get Clockwork Princess on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2IoAHoA

The Infernal Devices on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2FeWSLZ

~ Saadia

All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven – Book Review, Themes and Rating | Saadia Peerzada

ee05d628328a957ebe7a2e545cf26e89.jpgAll The Bright Places opens with two distraught teenagers wanting to end their lives. They find themselves atop the bell tower at school at the same time. The story progresses into how they wander together, mediate new highs and lows or fail to, fall in love and above all, see a silver of brightness in each other’s company.

Review: Niven’s profound understanding of mental illness translates into her writing beautifully. The portrayal of depression, both clinical and induced by loss and the ‘high highs’ and the very ‘low lows’ arising from bipolar disorder are written with such poise and honesty that the reader is effectively able to understand these illnesses. The element of dysfunctional family added to the multidimensional nature of the book and touched another lingering social issue.

The character building is so original and moving that you forget that they are fictional for a moment. Finch’s character was beautifully written, his struggle flowed through the words with ease. The writing is poetic and enchanting which is, for me, one of the main reasons that separated this book from the masses

This was one of the 1st and most important books that educated me about the personal struggle with mental illness and reflected my own struggle with it as I read this book during a dark time in life. This book has inspired me to write 2 poems, 1 of which is: https://www.instagram.com/p/Boq8YWKFitj/

I’d recommend this book to everyone. It is alluring and heartbreaking in equal parts and its absolute beauty amazes me every day.

Rating: 5/5 stars

Themes:

  1.  Mental Health & Mental Illness
  2. Exploration of Death
  3. Family
  4. Hope
  5. Exploration

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Get this book from Amazon: https://amzn.to/2LHRI0I

Other books by the author: https://amzn.to/2HnfNVn – Holding Up the Universe

Jennifer Niven’s website: http://www.jenniferniven.com/ and twitter: https://twitter.com/jenniferniven?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor

Ig: https://www.instagram.com/jenniferniven/?hl=en

~ Saadia

 

 

 

 

Matilda by Roald Dahl – Book Review, Themes, Rating and Summary

20190504_230532.jpgPlot Summary: Matilda, written by Roald Dahl and illustrated by Quentin Blake tells the story of a very young girl who is an extraordinarily bright kid for her age, quick to learn new things but never appreciated, rather disregarded by her parents. She teaches herself to read by the age of 3 through newspapers and magazines. On finishing the only book in her house, she asks her father to buy her one, to which he sternly refuses. Her father believed in spending his leisure time watching the television and her mother played bingo every afternoon. Matilda sets out by herself to the library and over the course of a few weeks, reads all the children’s books in the library. In the following 6 months, she reads the works of authors like Dickens, Bronte, Austen, Hemingway and George Orwells. All of this happens without her parents’ knowledge who still think that she’s unworthy . She turns to to acts like gluing her father’s hat to his head, hiding a friend’s parrot in the chimney to give the impression of a burglar or a ghost and secretly bleaching her father’s hair, to get revenge on her parents for regarding her with contempt.

On joining kindergarten, Matilda befriends her teacher, Ms Honey, who is astonished by Matilda’s ability to recite tables and read long and complex sentences. She tries to move her into a higher class to guide her within a competition that was up to her cognitive abilities but is refused by the brutish headmistress, Miss Agatha Trunchbull. Miss Honey also tries to talk to Matilda’s parents about her intellectual abilities, but they pay her no heed. Matilda develops a strong bond with Miss Honey and watches as Miss Trunchbull terrorizes her students with over-the-top punishments to prevent parents from believing their children complaining. When Matilda’s friend, Lavender, plays a practical joke on Miss Trunchbull, Matilda uses an sudden, bizarre power of telekinesis to tip the glass of water containing a newt onto Miss Trunchbull.

After Matilda reveals her powers to Miss Honey, Miss Honey reveals that she was raised by an cruel, brutish aunt after the dubious death of her father. Her aunt is revealed to be Miss Trunchbull, who withholds her niece’s inheritance so that Miss Honey has to live in destitution in a shabby, insecure farm cottage. Preparing to extract retribution for Miss Honey, Matilda develops her telekinetic ability by practicing at home. Later, during a lesson that Miss Trunchbull is teaching, Matilda telekinetically raises a piece of chalk to the blackboard and writes on it, acting as the spirit of Miss Honey’s late father and demanding that Miss Trunchbull hand over Miss Honey’s house and wages and leave the area for good.

Miss Trunchbull’s house is later found empty with no sign of where she went. Matilda continues to visit Miss Honey’s now returned house regularly. One day  she finds her parents and her older brother in a hurry, packing to escape from the police, who are after her father for selling stolen cars. Matilda tells them that she wants to live with Miss Honey, to which her parents uninterruptedly agree. Hence, both Matilda and Miss Honey find their happy ending, and the school’s atmosphere improves immensely under Mr. Trilby, the new head of school.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Review:  The book is fast paced which makes it a really fun read. The intricate way of weaving important lessons into a story for children leaves a lasting impression on the reader. The writing style is simple, perfect for new readers. The expressions used by Roald Dahl are hilarious and perfectly fitting at the same time. The character building is masterfully done, the side characters add to the dynamic nature of the book. Every character’s values shine clearly through the writing.

Themes:

  • The child-parent relationship portrayed is much needed and true for many households. Such topics often get sidelined in mainstream literature.
  • Matilda has a small number of people in her life who truly stick by her side, so she is incredibly loyal to the ones that do.
  • The main character of this book is a young girl who is much smarter and kinder than almost all of the characters who are adults. This is an opposite of the usual portrayal of children vs adults.
  • Dahl perfectly shows how family can be found beyond blood as Matilda finds a home with Ms Honey instead of her parents.
  • The focus on value knowledge and learning.
  • Greed leads to a sour end.

Final Thoughts (source: Wikipedia)

“Why does a part of us not want to know what Matilda has become? Somewhere in our heart of hearts we never want Matilda to grow up – we want her to be like Peter Pan, eternally young.” ~ Cressida Cowell

Get this book for Rs 200 https://www.amazon.in/gp/product/0141365463/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=3638&creative=24630&creativeASIN=0141365463&linkCode=as2&tag=saadia-21&linkId=01d326d0755b70e1a93cf7bd3ac6bb40

Every Roald Dahl book for Rs 180 each https://www.amazon.in/gp/product/0141371331/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=3638&creative=24630&creativeASIN=0141371331&linkCode=as2&tag=saadia-21&linkId=ad8480719f1bde1dbbe918d77a28ae49

Quote pic Sources: Pinterest.

~ Crafted with love, always, Saadia.

Today’s Media

20190420_164830.jpgMalcolm X said, “If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.” Research shows that people tend to ignore information that goes against their beliefs.
This is the reason for mass misinformation which ruins people’s lives.
Stay alert, don’t accept everything you see, think it through in your head because less than 29% of mainstream media news is accurate. This has led to most people getting their fix of news from social media platforms like Twitter.

Many 24/7 news channels are funded by Political Parties and facts are twisted to misinform, create fear to validate crime against minorities and the marginalised.

The media has become a propaganda machine even worse than it was in the early years of the 21st century.

Verify the facts before sharing news, steer clear of mass media that show one sided stories (CNN & BBC) and never let news inspire such fear in you that crime against certain communities seems justified.

Peace

– Saadia

 

True Self care

20190418_185529.jpgI’ve realised that escaping grief leads to unanswered questions. It prevents you from learning about your problems and hence prolongs them.

True self care is hard, its messy and slow but its a skill we all need to acquire.

Art by Barooja (https://www.instagram.com/barooja/)