Review: Videotape by Adib Zaini

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Title: Videotape

Author: Adib Zaini

Published: 31 March 2017

Publisher: Buku Fixi

Source: Library

Rating: 4/5

Summary

Razak seorang remaja yang dibesarkan dalam keluarga yang toksik. Disebabkan itu, dia lebih banyak lari daripada masalah di rumah dengan mencari masalah di luar.

Sepanjang hidupnya, dia mengenali beberapa kawan yang dianggap sebagai darah dagingnya sendiri. Mereka mencari kegembiraan bersama dan mencari masalah bersama.

Suatu hari, ketika didenda untuk bersihkan sekolah, mereka terjumpa sebuah kaset video yang tersorok di bilik stor. Tanpa mereka sangka, isi kandungan videotape itu bakal mengubah nasib hidup mereka. Bersama-sama, mereka menyelongkar misteri ngeri di sebalik objek berteknologi kuno itu.

Menerusi proses ini, Razak pelajari erti persahabatan, percintaan, kehidupan — dan kematian.

Razak is a teen that was raised in a toxic family life and it’s due to that that he spends most of his time from home which leads him to get into trouble.

He only has a select few close friends that he now considers as family due to their bond of friendship whereby they were there for him through thick and thin.

One day, whilst doing a school cleaning as a school punishment Razak and his friends found a videotape hidden in a storage room and before they knew it they’re embroiled in a mystery that will change the course of their lives.

(This is the best interpretation I have for the synopsis okay, I am sorry, my Malay is abysmal)

Review

I was genuinely surprised that I highly enjoyed this book. It was such a fun and nostalgic read. I say nostalgic because not all writers can write how a teenager speaks or acts, at least not accurately but with Adib reading his words really brought back my own memories of when I was a teenager in high school especially a local Malaysian high school. The banter between the friends, the teasing, everything just brought all good and sometimes bittersweet memories to the surface and just left me feeling all nostalgic for my own high school experience. Adib’s writing was realistic and engaging that I truly could envision myself being friends with this group of teenagers had I too been in the same school.

The only gripe I have with this book that made knock a point off in rating was how the mystery surrounding the videotape was unraveled. Going into this book I had expected it to lean more towards being a mystery whereby it will be solved by a group of teens ala The Famous Five novels but what I got instead was a book focusing a lot on the friendship between Razak and his friends. Not that I did not enjoy it but it makes me wonder if selling this book as a mystery book was correct because I felt that the mystery aspect of the plot fell flat.

The ending and the exposure of the perpetrator was too rushed that it left plot holes left and right. I did not know why the perpetrator did what he did. Was he mentally unstable? What was his motive both in doing what he did as well as creating a videotape on it. Who was his partner in crime? What happened to Razak’s dad? Why was Razak’s dad such a douchebag? The ending just left me with more questions than answers which is such a shame because the book was such a good read.

Overall, I would still highly recommend this book but don’t hope that the ending will blow your socks off. Keep your expectations low for the ending for this book.

 

 

Review: Spellbound by Jane Green

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Title: Spellbound

Author: Jane Green

Published: 31 December 2002

Rating: 2/5

Summary

Alice knows she should be happy. After all she has a handsome husband, a beautiful house and membership to all the most exclusive clubs in London. So what if the rumours about her husband’s skirt-chasing are becoming harder to ignore? When Joe’s indiscretions force a transfer to New York, Alice hopes it might be a fresh start. And when they find a beautiful old house in Connecticut Alice is overjoyed. For a while she and Joe seem as happy as newlyweds. But then the late nights and unexplained absences start again. What should Alice do? Stay and fight for him? Or leave with her head held high?

Review

I had somewhat high hopes for this book and it is all because of the nice light pink with glitter book cover and the its title “Spellbound”. So, I was hoping that I too will be spellbound by this book but I wasn’t. Like at all. The book was a total DRAAAAAGG to read. It was just so utterly mundane and boring and just filled with so many fillers and sub-plots that were either forgotten or just doesn’t add much to the main plot anyways.

The main character is such a doormat and I cannot for the life of me understand her connection with her new beau, Harry? Or was it Henry? (something along those lines). The author writes that because these two had so much in common and that is why they fell in love but that’s just bollocks! Like if you enjoy gardening and you have a gardener are you going to magically fall in love with your gardener just because both of you like gardening?? I don’t think so. I did not read nor see any chemistry between the two and am so baffled at how they fell in love? Also, I must add that Harry/Henry is the ex-boyfriend of Alice’s best friend AND Alice and Harry/Henry kissed when those two were still together. I don’t give a rats ass of whether said best friend and her boyfriend fell out of love or whatever when they were in a relationship Alice wasn’t supposed to be all over her best friends man.

I just don’t have it in me to rant about this book because I have another book I need to reserve my ranting energy for. Main point, this book is boring and so not worth the read. Give it a pass is my advice.

Review: Garam by Ruwi Meita

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Title: Garam

Author: Ruwi Meita

Publisher: Buku FIXI

Published: 8 July 2016

Rating: 4/5

Goodreads Summary

Seorang pemain piano di Surabaya ditemui mati, terduduk di depan pianonya, dengan bibir terjahit. Biji matanya dicungkil, meninggalkan lubang hitam yang amat mengerikan. Rambut palsu merah panjang menutupi kepalanya. Sementara otak dan organ-organ tubuhnya telah dikeluarkan secara paksa.

Kulitnya pucat seputih garam. Tidak, tidak sekadar seputih garam. Tapi, seluruh tubuhnya itu benar-benar dilumuri adunan garam.

Inspektor Kiri Lamari, penyiasat kes ini, terus dihantui lubang hitam mata pemain piano. Mata yang mengingatkan Kiri Lamari akan mata ibunya. Yang juga dia temui tak bernyawa puluhan tahun lalu.

Garam? Kenapa garam?

Review

I read this book months ago but it took me so long to actually review it because I honestly didn’t have much to say about it but since it is a Malay book, I thought that my two cents for this book would be appreciated especially since my intention is to shed more light on local books (although this book is written by an Indonesian author but hey whatever).

Garam (Salt in Malay) is a surprisingly good and easy read and I highly enjoyed my time reading it but because I have read an array of crime fiction novels, the plot for for Garam feels a dime a dozen and it is disappointing because although the plot twist was interesting and I did not anticipate it, it at the same time also feels anticipated if that makes any sort of sense. Another aspect of the book that I enjoyed was how the author inserts clues throughout the plot so the readers can figure out the true perpetrator of the killings along with the hero, Kiri Lamari.

So far those are all my thoughts regarding this book. Not much I know but honestly the book was just okay for me.

Breathless… Review

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Title: Breathless

Author: Celeste Bradley & Susan Donovan

Published: 12 June 2018

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Source: Netgalley

Rating:  4/5

Goodreads synopsis

She was “the Swan.” London’s premiere courtesan. Men want to be with her. Women loathe her success and yet admire her beauty, her riches, her independence. But when the jealous wife of her lover moves to have the Swan banished from her home on the high seas, she winds up crashed against Spain’s rocky coast with no shoes, no clothes-and no name. Taken in by a tortured, sensuous man known as The Artist, the Swan comes to know the woman she wants to be—her artist’s siren.

When Art Professor Brenna Anderson is in danger of losing her post at Harvard, the rule-following, prim professor is at a loss of how to salvage the shreds of her life. But when a new painting in the mysterious Siren collection is discovered in a dusty old house in France, Brenna does the unthinkable—hops on a plane to uncover the identity of the beautiful, enigmatic woman who is the subject of the paintings.

There’s just one hitch—the frustrating, irritating, bold and beautiful art hunter, Fitch Wilder, is also looking for the Siren. He’s been a thorn in Brenna’s professional side for years, but when their individual quests lead them to team up despite being enemies, a whole new sumptuous world of art and culture opens up for the two of them. And with it, they enter a realm of passion and love…

Review

I was quite excited when I was invited to read this book because I was interested to read how the authors were going to merge the two differing perspective between the perspective of the ‘The Swan’ in the past (Regency England-ish) and Brenna who is in the present. These two ladies are our protagonists for this book. It also helped that the book was sold to me as a mystery book with a huge whollop of romance.

After reading it, I have to say that my feelings are mixed regarding this book. Not that it isn’t good, no, the problem here lies with me. I just came to realize that contemporary romance just isn’t my thing. This realization hit me whenever I am reading the third person POV for Brenna’s part of the story, my eyes just glaze over and internally I am just praying that it will be over soon but when I read the historical romance aspect of the book which was written in the first person narrative, there just wasn’t enough material for me to read and I would be wholly disappointed that I had to return to reading about Brenna.

For me, Brenna’s romance with Fitch Wilder was so boring. Boring because of the predictability of it and how fast Brenna fell in love with Fitch, maybe it was longer than I give it credit for in the book but to me it felt like she fell in love with the guy within two weeks because the time lapse between them first meeting to when they fell in love felt so short but then again I am really bad at keeping track of the time anyway so this point is up for debate.

There was nothing for me to root for between these two characters and when Fitch admitted to lying to Brenna and her freaking out and their make up I just felt like ‘Jeez woman, just get over it’. Yes, this lying thing that Fitch did hit a raw nerve because of Brenna’s past and her estranged father but I just could not relate and in all honesty I gave zero shit but had the exposition or reasoning for her freak out been more fleshed out then maybe I would have given her the benefit of the doubt.

All in all I felt like the Brenna and Fitch aspect of the book was just not for me as it was predictable and boring but I live for parts of the book that was in ‘The Swan’s’ POV. Parts of the book which was written in her POV which was in the past was so interesting and dynamic and full of life and intrigue and mystery. The start of the book opened to her literally half-drowning in the ocean in the middle of nowhere so you are like what is going on????? Is she going to be okay?

‘The Swan’s’ POV was just SO good! She had to do many a different things back in her day to survive and prosper and prosper she did. She overcame so many hardships in her life that by the time she met a nice man on this island and was genuinely happy you couldn’t help but be so happy for her as well but the ending of her part of the book just KILLED ME DAMN IT!

The ending left me with a book hangover. I just could not get over it because why? Why would you do that to her? After all she went through that woman deserves eternal happiness!

So, yeah that sums my review.

Present plot: It was okay a bit meh for me

Past plot: THIS SHIT IS WHAT I LIVE FOR!

Hence, the 4 star rating.

*The book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in return for an honest review

Kawaii Doodle Class… A Review

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Title: Kawaii Doodle Class

Author: Zainab Khan

Published: 1 September 2017

Publisher: Race Point Publishing

Source: Netgalley

Rating: 5/5

Goodreads Summary

Create your own kawaii world with Pic Candle and Kawaii Doodle Class!

The Japanese word kawaii  translates to “cute,” and this how-to book is chock-full of super-adorable images of tacossushismoothiescloudsrainbowscactidoodle monstersChristmas treeslipsticksteacups, and more for your adoration.

Popular kawaii artist Zainab Khan shows you how to draw 75 super-cute characters with simple step-by-step illustrations and instructions. She has also included fun search-and-find images to play along with, and inspiration boards that show you how to give your characters different facial expressions and zany accessories.

Review

I really enjoyed this book because it was easy for me to draw the characters as they all had step-by-step instructions for me to follow. This is great because I don’t have any drawing talent whatsoever plus because it has step-by-step instructions it allows you to practice all the basic shapes for the eyes, body etc which you can then apply and use to create your own character.

So, far that is all I have to say for this book. It was a chill,easy to follow doodling book that is great for anybody regardless of artistic background to try.

*The book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in return for an honest review.

Bookishly Ever After… A Review

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Title: Bookishly Ever After

Author: Isabel Bandeira

Published: 19 January 2016

Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary

Source: Netgalley

Rating: 2/5

Goodreads summary

In a perfect world, sixteen-year-old Phoebe Martins’ life would be a book. Preferably a YA novel with magic and a hot paranormal love interest. Unfortunately, her life probably wouldn’t even qualify for a quiet contemporary.

But when Phoebe finds out that Dev, the hottest guy in the clarinet section, might actually have a crush on her, she turns to her favorite books for advice. Phoebe overhauls her personality to become as awesome as her favorite heroines and win Dev’s heart. But if her plan fails, can she go back to her happy world of fictional boys after falling for the real thing?

Review

Well I had a whole rant review written for this book but I lost it and I just don’t have enough momentum in me to write another rant review so this review will be concise and short and straight to the point.

I did not enjoy this book at all even though every fibre of my being really wanted to because the protagonist is a book nerd who knits and let us be honest I can insert myself into the plot because all that can also describe me; a book nerd who crochet instead of knits but it is fine we all know crochet is knittings second cousin thrice removed.

The writing was too juvenile for my taste which threw me off from immersing myself in the plot because the main characters age is 16 yet the writing felt more middle grade than anything.

Then we have the characters themselves. Every character was a stereotype and all of them fell flat. They were nothing more than their stereotype and they weren’t worth the time to even warrant the need to get to know them better but the character I hated the most was the main protagonist, Phoebe.

I did not like how she has no personality nor wit nor anything she can call her own. She does everything that her favorite book character does. From her archery to how she was going to get her crushs attention. I honestly don’t mind if you use fictional characters characteristics and whatnot as inspiration to improve your own life but literally just following whatever they are doing without putting any forethought into it seems ludicrous. Had Phoebe been younger it would have been more believable but she is 16, so I find a 16 year old following everything she reads from a fictional book highly unlikely if it was from a magazine like Cosmo or whatever that is highly likely but from a fictional book? Really?

Another thing that annoyed me about Phoebe was how she has no character development. At the start of the book she is a shy book nerd out to get the attention of her crush and does so by reading fictional books and copies whatever is in it and at the end she is still a shy book nerd who now just has a boyfriend. She learns nothing from her endeavors.

Also, I did not like how she wants the guy to ask her out because she still believes in romantic gestures yet does nothing more pronounced to hint at her crush that she likes them. Yes, she dresses better, she wears make-up, she plays coy and what not but all that can be misconstrued as being friendly and all that does not warrant on how upset she gets because her crush doesn’t understand how she feels. She gets so upset over it she cuts their friendship, doesn’t explain why or anything and it is wholly unfair to the guy i question because maybe he did like her but is too shy himself to ask her out without a more direct hint.

The romance in this book is also very odd for me. At the start of the book she likes Kris, the schools star athlete but then just because Phoebe’s best friend, Em, says that Dev has a thing for Phoebe suddenly she goes all gung-ho for Dev immediately. I don’t understand why. Like why do you suddenly like Dev? Is he cute? Is he sweet? Is he funny? Is he drop dead gorgeous. You don’t just like somebody who MIGHT have a crush on you for no apparent reason. There must be something even though the reasoning might be very superficial.

Another problem I faced was the pacing of this book. It felt so slow for me. I felt like I was reading nothing because almost everything was just filler. Fillers that did not move the plot forward or create any intimacy between us as the reader towards the characters or heck even enjoyable fillers.

Talking about fillers I have found a bookish pet peeve because of this book and that is fillers in the form of bookception (book inception). Remember I told you that Phoebe gets all her tips and tricks to get Dev’s attention well she writes this all down in her notebook where Phoebe will legit write line by line from the chapter she gets her inspiration from and we get to read it. Yeay! Not!

If I wanted to read another book in this book I would have just picked up another book in real life or heck even contacted the author herself to write this fictional book she put in ‘Bookishly Ever After’ so I can read it myself and so that the plot just focuses on Phoebe and puts in more effort so that I actually care about this girl because at this rate due to the writing and the one dimensional characters I don’t give a shit about Phoebe and whatever she is trying to achieve so what makes you think by including a book within a book that I would care more? Like what are you doing? Are you trying to be meta? Had this bookception been complete slashed off or have half of it cut out would improve the pacing of this book tremendously.

I don’t care about Kaylee whatever and her indecision to choose to pursue music in the city or follow her heart and stay with a potato farmer boy for true love or how Maeve feels betrayed and hurt that she is only used as a pawn by her leprechaun-esque partner/lover.

This book was just a huge disappointment for me and I just can’t even anymore so I will stop here.

*Book was given by the publishers in return for an honest review