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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Lord of the Flies by William Golding – Book Review

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The book focuses on a group of British boys stranded on an uninhabited island and their disastrous attempt to govern themselves.

Genre: Allegorical, Psychological Novel, Young Adult fiction

Review: 

The plot is stagnant for the 1st 130 pages, the middle of the book stretched out unnecessarily. This makes the characters feel under-developed during throughout these pages. It was tedious to get through and the narration seemed monotonous for majority of the novel. I rated it 2/5 stars.

The ending is very detailed and graphic, propelling the story forward all of a sudden and the build up of the moral degradation of the young characters finally culminates in savagery. In my opinion, this should’ve happened sooner to limit the stretch of the tedious chapters that seem to add nothing to drive the plot onward.

I agree with the critics that have claimed the book to be “too abstract”. One only begins to appreciate the allegorical aspects of the book when looked through the author’s eyes.

“Maybe there is a beast… maybe it’s only us.”

“The thing is – fear can’t hurt you any more than a dream.”

“He found himself understanding the wearisomeness of this life, where every path was an improvisation and a considerable part of one’s waking life was spent watching one’s feet.”

“They walked along, two continents of experience and feeling unable to communicate.”

Get it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2G0HpzQ

~ Saadia

The Tidy Guide to Publishing your Novel by Rachel Aukes – Book Review

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This book aims to provide actionable and concise tips and processes to publishing your novel.

Review: Aukes starts off the book by delivering information about the various forms of publishing; publishing houses or self-publishing or the ways that lie in-between. This throws light on both the traditional and the new forms of issuing your book. I rated this book 3.5/5 stars.

This book provides information about what you need to keep in mind about imprints within a publishing house, the editor’s part in publishing, the significance of having an agent and the importance of keeping the book rights indisputably yours.

In the last half of the book, the author provides precise, concrete steps to follow while publishing your book.

Buy it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2X8wiue

~ 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

Advice to Enneagram type 4s

09b89588609698697b03d11163eec4e1.jpg“The Enneagram refers to the nine different types or styles, with each representing a worldview and archetype that resonates with the way people think, feel and act in relation to the world, others and themselves.” – integrative9.com

After hearing a lot about this ‘personality test’ last year, I finally decided to give it a go without expecting much, I just wanted to find out what number I was on this seemingly popular scale. (I am a 4) I wasn’t ready for how precisely it would pin down my biggest fear, my drive, behavioral patterns and my relationship with friends. It felt like someone had studied my behavior and beliefs for the entire course of my life and then summarized it. So if anyone of you reading is interested in learning about your driving motivations and basic belief, you can take the test here (https://www.9types.com/rheti/index.php) . Personally, I use the enneagram as a tool to understand myself better, improve on my shortcomings and understand what certain feelings/emotions actually mean.

After reading every possible article, watching every video, listening to podcasts on type 4s, I still found a lack of helpful advice or tips that might ease the harshness of everyday realities for 4s, so I decided to start a list of things I’ve learnt about being a type 4, especially after being in the most tumultuous period of life so far with a hope that it will help other 4s out there in navigating this crazy, messy world. I’ll keep updating this post as I learn more about myself and grow into a more tranquil and cohesive 4.

  1. Don’t overwhelm yourself: Being idealistic and driven, you can take up too much at once, give it your best shot and then start burning out. I have done this countless number of time by taking up 4-5 huge goals at once instead of starting out steadily and then building up. It seems strange to not take up everything you want to be good at so you plan extensively and then find yourself exhausted 4 days down the road. Take up 2 long term goals (both should NOT take a lot of willpower, they should differ in their intensity) and a very-short term one (think reading a book, decluttering, making notes) at a time so that while you are building productive momentum by ticking off the very-short term goals, riding the wave of optimism with the low will-power goal, you are fulfilling a long term one without feeling entirely spent. 12 months, 8-12 long term goals and you are so much closer to who you want to be.
  2. Patience:  Continuing on from 1, it is easy to get tired with seemingly ‘low rate’ of growth but know that no one gets to their best self in a week. What we want to build is not a stamina for a summer hobby but the ‘grit’ for an entire lifetime and that takes more failures than successes and the patience to be a beginner over and over again. It is hella scary but worth it in the end.
  3. On taking everything personally: This has probably wasted SO much of your time and tears. I still struggle with being extremely sensitive but what has helped me get a bit better with it is accepting that what a person says about me/to me has more to do with what kind of person they are rather than who I am. This seems like cringy, old-school advice but it works.
  4. Melancholy: The most important thing I learnt about the intense melancholic moods 4s experience comes from a podcast (can’t remember the name, will link if i find it). The speaker was a 4 too and she said,” Know that you are feeding the melancholy; at any moment you can choose to snap out of it and do something that’ll make you feel better.” What struck me was how it clarified that I had a choice in the matter because when I am down in the dumps, I feel so stuck that I start believing that the only thing I can do is stay there and wallow in self-hate and be morose.
  5. Emotional Turbulence: What can help you be more tranquil is ensuring your basic needs at ALL TIMES; keep hydrated, eat at regular intervals, get 40 minutes of exercise, manage stress by taking breaks, because often feelings can seem to be totally separate from the body but really, well-balanced health regulates your emotions and help you lead a wholesome, well-rounded life.
  6. Identity: As a creative 4, it is important for my mental health to keep writing poetry, reading books or consuming art to feel like myself. If I take long breaks from doing those things, I feel less confident in my ‘identity’ than I already am. Find what are those things that ground you and help you feel more yourself  and do them regularly.
  7. Perfectionism: Being idealistic can also lead to 4s giving up on doing any basic or small task because it isn’t ‘significant’ enough or ‘perfect’ enough but almost always, I’ve found that doing these small tasks is extremely important to get closer to a balanced state. So try to overcome the crippling need to be ideal at all times and try to jazz up the small things by listening to a podcast or TED talk to take your mind off of them. Similarly, take care of the small things about yourself even if they seem insignificant.I have also found resistance to keep creating art because it didn’t feel good enough but I try to keep in mind that a great artist always chooses volume over perfection and to reach a certain level of greatness at my craft, I must keep at it.
  8. Nostalgia: I still struggle with letting the past go but have certainly come a long way from when the past was all I could think of. I made a realistic list of things to look forward to, I planned stuff with friends and family, occupied myself with new goals and books, changed my style and surroundings to not fall into the dark pit of nostalgia. Another thing that worked for me was allowing myself to think of a moment gone by but actively helping myself realize that there was nothing to gain from the past.
  9. Support: Even if you maintain a steady emotional and mental health, it is best to have a close friend to confide in when you feel dreadful and incompetent. Trust someone who has similar thinking patterns as you or is very empathetic and a good listener and let them help you untangle the threads of confusing emotions.
  10. Confidence: This comes last as it is something I am still working towards improving. 4s think of themselves as fundamentally lacking. I used to struggle with immense self-hate but I got over it by continuously reminding myself all that I liked about myself till I started liking what I despised in me. Continuous positive self-talk can create wonders yet, I have a long way to go in this regard.

Disclaimer: This is written from a personal experience POV and may or may not work for every type 4. The trick is to take what works for you, leave what doesn’t and try to come up with other mechanisms that might help you be a tranquil, joyful 4.

~ Saadia

pic sources: pinterest

 

 

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by R.L. Stevenson – Book Review

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A classic work of the Victorian Era, this book exhibits the moral hypocrisy which was a characteristic of this period. It is about a London lawyer, Mr Utterson who investigates strange occurrences between his old friend, Dr Henry Jekyll and the evil Edward Hyde.

Review: The writing style is attention-grabbing and flows very well. The story is concise in a masterful way. The author does not add irrelevant details to the plot. Stevenson does a better job than Shelly, in my opinion, in showcasing moral degradation and abandon. The writing did not hamper the pace of the novel neither did it drag it out, making it easier to engage with.

The allegorical portrayal of Victorian society was enlightening. Drug use, violence/ criminal behavior, degradation and good vs evil are the main themes of this book. This book seems to show the darker side of moral pretense and the ending is heavy with Gothic elements. The book maintains that the battle with one’s darker side cannot be quick and the adverse effects of taking such routes are shown explicitly.

Being under 200 pages and written so well, one flies through it. I rated it 3.5/5 stars. The reason for docking 1.5 stars is the explanation of the ‘downfall’ element of the main character during the end of the book. This is a trope I do not enjoy at all and find rather hard to get through. It has been the reason for lowering my rating of other books dealing with morality and good vs evil.

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde on Amazon: https://amzn.to/30TMWRB

A Collection of Gothic Fiction on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2EH1sm9

~ Saadia

Frankenstein by Mary Shelly – Book Review

20190521_202927.pngBelieved to be the 1st attempt at science-fiction, Frankenstein by Mary Shelly is a Gothic novel that starts off with Dr Victor Frankenstein’s creation of a human turned monster and centers around the occurrences that follow this unnatural event.

  1. Title: The book was initially titled Frankenstein: the Modern Prometheus but the subtitle was removed in later publications. This, in my opinion, has contributed to the misconception of the monster being called ‘Frankenstein’ when it was never named in the book. While the original title and subtitle together referred to Dr Frankenstein’s feat of giving life to an amalgam of body parts, usage of the title alone has led to a popular belief that it refers to the monster.  Of course, the adaptations of the novel in the form of movies and plays have played a larger role in doing that.
  2. Writing Style: Personally, I found the writing style to lack flow. The first 100 pages read like Victor Frankenstein was voicing thoughts as they came. This heavily retarded the pace of the book for me. However, the book begins to gain some pace after the 1st 100 pages with the beginning of the monster’s account.
  • Narration: All 3 narrators had the same voice, as pointed out by various critics. This made the book monotonous.
  • Characters: While there were really only 2 main characters, the side characters lacked depth and description. It almost felt like they appeared whenever necessary, to carry the book onward but the reader never got to know much about their stories, background or values.
  1. Themes: Science fiction, Gothic horror, guilt, ambition and its consequences/thirst for glory, the struggle against societal control, the contrast between isolation and society.
  2. Rating: 1/5 stars

Based on:

  • It took me a long, long while to get through
  • Didn’t gain much value from it
  • The story wasn’t absorbing at all
  • The ending fell short of the buildup of the last 124 pages
  • The downfall trope was heavy in Victor Frankenstein’s character
  • Uni-dimensional side characters
  • No description of the process that breathed life into the monster’s body

Frankenstein on Amazon: https://www.amazon.in/gp/product/0007350961/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=3638&creative=24630&creativeASIN=0007350961&linkCode=as2&tag=saadia-21&linkId=47ebefad7761b8325867d7883007bd83

~ 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

 

 

 

 

Heidi by Johanna Spyri – Book review, Plot Summary, Themes and Rating

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Heidi is a children’s book written by the Swiss author Johanna Spyri. It was initially published in 2 parts and written in German. It is one the best-selling books ever written about the childhood years of a girl living with her grandfather in the Alps.

Plot Summary: The book opens with Heidi being taken to the Alps to live with her grandfather by her aunt Dete. Dete has cared for Heidi since she was a baby as both of her parents had died under grievous circumstances but now she had a job offer and could no longer take care of her. The villagers are unsettled by this decision as Uncle Alp, Heidi’s grandfather, is known to be resentful and solitary and had renounced religion. However, after some initial reluctance, they form a close bond. Heidi loves living in the mountains and holds the beauty of nature and its vibrant colors close to her heart. She befriends Peter and his grandmother and brings joy to everyone she interacts with by her simple and unaffected behavior.

Aunt Dete appears after having left Heidi for a good while. She comes with the news of having found a job in Frankfurt for Heidi as a companion to a physically-challenged girl, Clara. Dete claims that this experience would be valuable to Heidi as Grandfather hadn’t  sent her to school or church. Heidi’s departure leaves Grandfather and Peter’s grandmother in dismay. In Frankfurt, Heidi learns to love Clara and Clara’s grandmother, who teaches her about the importance of prayer and submission to God. On the other hand, the forbidding Miss Rottenmeier makes Heidi unhappy. She starts missing the mountains quickly and grows more miserable by the day. Phantom occurrences are revealed to be Heidi in a state of sleepwalking because of her homesickness. A kind doctor advises that Heidi must return to the mountains to restore her health.

She returns to the ever-sprightly mountains and its people and brings more light into their lives while gaining happiness herself. Due to Heidi’s words and encouragement, Grandfather returns to religion and they go to Church together. He also renounces his solitary ways and makes peace with the people of the village.

Clara visits the Alps later and is nursed back to color with the help of Grandfather’s hospitality, the nutritious homemade food and the mountain air. She starts getting healthier and stronger by the day. Peter, being envious of her monopolizing Heidi’s time,  causes her wheelchair to break. Surprisingly though, with help from Heidi and Peter, Clara begins to walk. Clara’s father promises Grandfather that he will take care of Heidi when the old man dies.

Rating: 5/5 stars

Review: Heidi is written in a freely flowing, imaginative and well-paced style. The author has successfully portrayed a child’s character as unaffected and simple, yet kind and empathetic. 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 stays snug within its genre yet manages to push the boundaries and become something more. This is the reason why it has become the symbol of Swiss folklore around the world and stayed alive for 138+ years. The language is lucid and immersive. The author intermixes humor and important, valuable lessons throughout the second half of the book.

Heidi’s character is relatable to anyone who has experienced homesickness/ lived away from home. Reading about her thought process and unending sympathy is refreshing and rejuvenating.  This book would be perfect for anyone, at anytime. It is incredibly relaxing and great for a weekday afternoon.

Scholastic edition: https://www.amazon.in/gp/product/9352755758/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=3638&creative=24630&creativeASIN=9352755758&linkCode=as2&tag=saadia-21&linkId=005328c94c32bd531287aa64c22441ec

 

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Themes: 

  1. The healing power of nature.
  2. Family and relationships.
  3. Empathy
  4. Religion (Christianity)

“I’ll always say my prayers… and if God doesn’t answer them at once I shall know it’s because He’s planning something better for me.”

“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”

”It’s the sun’s way of saying goodnight to the mountains” he explained. ”He spreads that beautiful light over them so that they won’t forget him till he comes back in the morning.”

~ Saadia