Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson // Demonic Servants, Living Books, & Sorcerers

Ink and parchment flowed through her veins. The magic of the Great Libraries lived in her very bones. They were a part of her, and she a part of them.

In previous posts, I’ve alluded to the fact that Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson is my favorite book of the year so far. A lot of the commenters on those posts expressed how excited they were to read my full review of Sorcery of Thorns–and to read the book itself–so here is my (hopefully) much-awaited review of it.

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August 2019 Wrap-up // 6 Books, Winning a Blog Award (!!!) & Sapphic Saturdays Participation

We’re in the ber months now! I can’t believe it!! 2019 is flying by, but at the same time, January seems like it happened a century ago. Very weird. I’m just desperate for the end of October to come, which brings a week and a half of no school for me. Finally.

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Review: The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf || Finally! The First 5-Star of the Year

Di mana bumi dipijak, di situ langit dijunjung. Have you heard this before? It means where we plant our feet is where we must hold up the sky. We live and die by the rules of the land we live in. But this country belongs to all of us! We make our own sky, and we can hold it up—together.

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Publication date: February 5, 2019

Publisher: Salaam Reads

Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction

Synopsis: A music-loving teen with OCD does everything she can to find her way back to her mother during the historic race riots in 1969 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in this heart-pounding literary debut.

Melati Ahmad looks like your typical moviegoing, Beatles-obsessed sixteen-year-old. Unlike most other sixteen-year-olds though, Mel also believes that she harbors a djinn inside her, one who threatens her with horrific images of her mother’s death unless she adheres to an elaborate ritual of counting and tapping to keep him satisfied.

But there are things that Melati can’t protect her mother from. On the evening of May 13th, 1969, racial tensions in her home city of Kuala Lumpur boil over. The Chinese and Malays are at war, and Mel and her mother become separated by a city in flames. 

With a 24-hour curfew in place and all lines of communication down, it will take the help of a Chinese boy named Vincent and all of the courage and grit in Melati’s arsenal to overcome the violence on the streets, her own prejudices, and her djinn’s surging power to make it back to the one person she can’t risk losing.

Content Warnings: Racism, graphic violence, on-page death, OCD and anxiety triggers

Before I start this review, I must thank Kate @ Your Tita Kate for deciding to buy copies of The Weight of Our Sky to send to readers in the Philippines while she was in Kuala Lumpur. Since I’m a student, she also shouldered the shipping cost, so that’s an additional thank you to her. And if I hadn’t seen her tweet and decided on a whim to tell her that I wanted a copy, I would never have picked up The Weight of Our Sky. Basically, I just have a lot to thank her for. So if you somehow are following me but aren’t following her yet, then you should go do that right now because her blog posts are all so damn eloquent, and her personality is amazing!

I appreciate this book so much because it features a non-white, non-Christian (Malaysian and Muslim) character in a non-western setting dealing with a mental illness. I cannot stress how important books likes this are. We already have a shortage of books with mental illness rep, what more books with intersectional mental illness rep.

You would expect that being in Mel’s head would get repetitive because of her constant need to tap and count, but each time, Alkaf found new ways to show how Mel’s mental illness creeps into her everyday life. Besides that, she does such a good job of transporting us to 1969 Kuala Lumpur, expertly writing the tension between the Chinese and the Malays, while also portraying the sense of community that somehow still prevailed at the time. All of this world building is incorporated seamlessly, and not once was this book difficult to fly through. Coupled with the fact that this book is less than 300 pages, The Weight of Our Sky is very easy to binge-read.

Though I want more people to read this, it does get very dark at times, and you should definitely make sure to read the trigger warnings before you pick it up. Right from the beginning, someone close to Mel is taken from her, and the survival story just continues from there. Mel meets new people and journeys to different places, some safe and some not, trying to find her ever illusive mother.

Speaking of mothers, my own recently finished this book, and I think she was right in calling Mel kawawa, or heartbreaking. It is impossible not to feel for Mel, because she believes that her mental illness is the work of a vengeful djinn who torments her with visions of her mother’s death. And then the unthinkable happens–her mother’s life is actually in danger. But at the same time, Mel is not a human form of her mental illness. She is just a normal teenage girl with a love for the Beatles, and she would do anything for her mother.

Vincent is the sweetest boy ever, and I loved that the author didn’t try to squeeze in a forced romance between him and Melati. Auntie Bee and Uncle Chong are also wonderful people who are perfect examples that an ethnicity, or even just any group of people, aren’t a monolith. They reminded me of Chinese aunties and uncles that I’ve met myself. And Frankie is, well.. a piece of work, but even though his views about Malays are completely wrong and challenged by the narrative, his reasons for it are understandable, and I appreciated how the author chose to end his character arc.

In Alkaf’s author’s note, she mentions how much research went into writing this book, uncovering what it was like during the race riots and how mental health was treated during this time. I think the former really shows because everything that happened in this book seems like it would’ve happened in real life. And for the latter, I appreciate Alkaf so much for writing a book about a PoC struggling with mental illness during a time when mental health awareness was scarce. Even though it’s heartbreaking, it’s not much of a stretch to believe that Melati would call her mental illness a djinn and believe that counting was a form of weaving a protective shield around her loved ones.

This book reminds me of some of the required reading I had to read in school, but not in a bad way at all. My past assigned reading (especially the books O.C.W.: A Young Boy’s Search For His Mother and Chu Ju’s House), are books steeped in Asian culture, with characters driven by their love for family to go on a journey, where they meet different people and different obstacles. If this book weren’t potentially triggering, it would be the perfect required reading.

Earlier, I mentioned that this book wasn’t on my TBR until Tita Kate tweeted about it. That wasn’t because I had seen negative reviews. It was the opposite–all of the reviews I’d seen were four stars or above. But this book still slipped under my radar because not enough people were talking about it. Even now, this book is severely underhyped. So I hope this review encouraged you to read The Weight of Our Sky, because it is an excellent debut and I am so excited to read more from this author!

The Verdict: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Is this amazing book on your TBR? Or have you read it already? What’d you think about it?

Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag! (2019)

Anyone wanna tell me how it’s almost the end of June already? It doesn’t seem like so long ago when it was just the beginning of 2019. Well, I guess this works in my favor, because I won’t feel like I’ve waited that long for my most anticipated releases. *evil laughter*

The Mid-year Book Freak Out Tag usually gets popular around the month of June, and 2019 is no exception. It’s a way to talk about how the first half of our reading year went. I always love reading/watching this tag, and I was considering doing it myself, but I wasn’t sure because honestly, my reading year so far hasn’t been very good. It’s been mediocre read after mediocre read. However, I was tagged by Mir and Mel @ TBR and Beyond (they’re the best!), and I just took it as a sign that I absolutely had to do this. I guess I’ll just make do with this meh reading year and find the diamonds in the rough!

What is the best book you’ve read so far in 2019?

▪️The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf


Technically, The Weight of Our Sky was the only book I gave 5 stars to this year, because it’s the most objectively good out of all the books I’ve read so far. However, if we’re talking about a book I could gush about for hours, I would have to say We Set the Dark on Fire, which I gave 4 stars to due to some issues with its writing. But I just love it so much! I don’t know if it’s just me, but sometimes a 4 star read can be more of a favorite than a 5 star read?? Please tell me I’m not alone in this!

▪️We Set the Dark on Fire (We Set the Dark on Fire #1) by Tehlor Kay Mejia


What has been your favorite sequel of the first half of the year?

▪️ The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air #2) by Holly Black


Sadly, I’ve only read two sequels this year. (I really need to get better about reading sequels!) But seeing as the only other sequel I read this year was disappointing, the title goes to The Wicked King by default. I think that the hype ruined it a little for me because everyone was screaming about the ending, and when it came, I was so underwhelmed. And seeing as I read and loved The Cruel Prince last year, but then read a few of the negative things people had to say and agreed with them, my love waned a little for the series. I did still give The Wicked King 4 stars, and I can’t wait for the finale coming out in November!

Is there a new release that you haven’t read yet but you’re really excited to?

▪️ The Fever King (Feverwake #1) by Victoria Lee


So. Many. But besides the ones I’ve already talked about 24/7, I want to talk about The Fever King. I think I’ve been anticipating this book since 2017. I remember coming across it on Goodreads, when it only had a title and a one-sentence pitch. People were intrigued by the little information available about the book, and a booktuber I followed added it to her want-to-read shelf, so I went and added it to my want-to-read shelf as well. Fast forward to 2019 and the book has received a ton of praise. I can’t wait to finally read this story. And is it weird of me to say that Noam and Dara are already my sons purely because of what people are saying about them?

What is your most anticipated release for the second half of the year?

▪️ Wilder Girls by Rory Power


I did a whole post dedicated to anticipated releases of the second half of 2019. But if we’re being realistic, I can’t choose a book that will come out in late 2019 because I’m sure I’ll only be able to get to it in 2020. When am I not drowning in my TBR pile, you know? So I chose Wilder Girls for this question because it comes out pretty soon–July 9th. And I’m so ready for the body horror and gay-ness it promises!

What is your biggest disappointment so far?

▪️ In an Absent Dream (Wayward Children #4) by Seanan McGuire


I actually haven’t had any 2 star reads yet this year–just a hell of a lot of 3 stars. And I like to think that I’m good at anticipating if I’ll like a book or not, so my lowest-rated books aren’t that disappointing. For this question I’m choosing In An Absent Dream because it proved to me that the Wayward Children series peaked at its first two books. After reading this, I’ve decided to no longer immediately add the upcoming books in the series to my TBR.

What is your biggest surprise so far?

▪️ These Witches Don’t Burn (These Witches Don’t Burn #1) by Isabel Sterling


I noticed this on a few anticipated 2019 releases lists, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read it because I hadn’t heard much buzz about it, and I’m more picky about reading debuts because, being the author’s first work, they tend to have more flaws. But I put this on my Pride TBR on a whim, and I was so surprised when I read it and really enjoyed it! Find my full review here.

Favorite new author? (Either debut or new to you)

▪️ Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman


Another testament to the fact that my reading year has not been great so far is the fact that I haven’t found a new favorite author yet. The closest to a favorite author I’ve found this year would be Akemi Dawn Bowman. I adored her writing in Summer Bird Blue, and her debut, Starfish, along with her upcoming releases sound like they’re gonna be amazing. I like that her books feature a lot of diversity and tackle hard-hitting topics.

▪️ Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Who is your favorite fictional crush from this year?

▪️The Poppy War (The Poppy War #1) by R.F. Kuang—Fang Runin


I’m surprised that when I was coming up with an answer to this question, Fang Runin came to mind. I don’t really get fictional crushes, especially now that 2019 has been so dry character-wise, but I think that Rin is such a deliciously morally grey character. And if she murdered me.. I would say thank you.

Who is your new favorite character?

▪️ We Set the Dark on Fire (We Set the Dark on Fire #1) by Tehlor Kay Mejia—Carmen Santos and Dani Vargas

Please don’t make me choose between the two of them. They are perfect foils to the others’ personality! Dani is more of a quiet force, while Carmen is a confident queen, and together they are the definition of a power couple. If you want to read about me gushing about them in a more in-depth manner, here’s my review.

A book that made you cry?

I’ve said this a few times on Twitter, but no book, or piece of media for that matter, has ever made me cry. I have no idea why I don’t cry in books. It’s a thing I’d heard of people doing as a child, and I always thought that it would eventually happen to me too. But it’s never happened yet.

A book that made you happy?

▪️ The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang


The Prince and the Dressmaker was so cute–art, story, and character-wise. Despite the trigger warning for an outing scene, breezing through this graphic novel made me so happy!

Your favorite book to movie/TV show that you’ve seen so far?

Image result for the umbrella academy

I don’t remember watching any book-to-movie adaptations this year, though I feel like I must’ve. I generally don’t care for them anyway (oops), so for this question, I’m going with The Umbrella Academy, which is adapted from a graphic novel series that I haven’t read. The Umbrella Academy received some buzz when it came out earlier this year, and I’m late to the party having just started and finished it last week. But this series.. It just snuck up on me. All of the Hargreeves children are trash, but they’re my trash, okay? And I definitely don’t think this series is perfect, but it’s so binge-able.

What is the most beautiful book that you have bought?

Descendant of the Crane by Joan He

That has to go to my hardcover of Descendant of the Crane, which I hauled in my previous post. DOTC’s cover is already beautiful, but it’s even more magnificent in person!

What is your favorite post that you have written so far this year?

I started my blog in late February, which was the worst timing ever because school and a summer study tour completely got in the way of my blogging. I only have about 25 posts to choose from, but my favorite would have to be my Pride Month rec post, where I recommended Queer SFF based on Queer Contemporaries!

What are 6 books that you want to read by the end of the year?


I want to read all of the books, honestly. But since I have to be realistic, here are six books that are high on my TBR, but I haven’t talked about much yet!

Muse of Nightmares (Strange the Dreamer #2) by Laini Taylor- I’m so excited to delve back into the world of Weep and read Laini Taylor’s luscious writing once more! Plus, I have to get to this before I forget everything that happened in the first book.

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon- This is a high fantasy featuring queendoms, an f/f romance, and dragons. Everyone say thank you, Samantha Shannon. But seriously, this has received stellar reviews, and I can’t wait to read this 800-page monster and give myself a pat on the back for finishing it.

Middlegame by Seanan McGuire- I was disappointed by Seanan McGuire’s continuation to the Wayward Children series, but I am still a big fan of her writing and story concepts. Middlegame sounds amazing, and I know that an author like McGuire will absolutely deliver on its synopsis.

The Foxhole Court (All for the Game #1) by Nora Sakavic- Laura binged the AFTG books recently and loved them. And since she has already read Captive Prince after my incessant nagging, I really should read a favorite of hers too. I’ve been meaning to read this for a long time anyways because it sounds a lot like CaPri.

Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram- This was Taasia‘s first 5 star read of the year, and I trust her opinion because, like me, she’s picky with her 5 star reads. The diversity in this is also incredibly promising–Iranian rep, queer rep, mental illness rep and I think fat rep!

The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman- This is a 2019 release that I’ve been anticipating since the beginning of the year and still haven’t gotten to. Honestly, who’s surprised? But I am a big fan of the aesthetic of this book and its author, and I’ve heard mixed things, so I’m excited to see where I land!

I have yet to read a book this year that I would consider a new favorite, and We Set the Dark on Fire is the only one that comes close. *sigh* I really hope things take a turn in the second half of the year!

I tag:

Laura @ Laura Herondale (Yes I know you’re on hiatus, Laura, but nobody’s stopping you from doing this tag in August.)

Taasia @ Librae Paints Pages

Sabs @ Vengeance and Starlight

Apologies if I tagged anyone twice and it’s absolutely okay if you don’t want to do it!

What’s the best book you’ve read so far in 2019? Just tell me how the first half of your reading year has gone! I’d love to know!

I Bought Books After Ages of Not Buying Them || Book Haul

I’ve talked about this quite a few times on my blog, but I’m someone who primarily reads ebooks because physical books are way too expensive. I haven’t bought physical books in a long time, and I’m really proud of myself for that… But everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked when National Bookstore had a bunch of sales all throughout the summer. It was wild–up to 60% off for a hardcover! And then my mom’s birthday rolled around in May, so we got 20% off a few books from Fully Booked.

It’s been so long since I’ve felt the rush of acquiring new books, and I swear once I started buying books again in March, a bunch of sales and book deals started popping up, and they just never stopped. As I am writing this, I have bought another book because Fully Booked had a 20% off sale..

All the books I bought this summer!

But before we get into the haul, I would first like to thank you all so much for 200 followers! I could launch into a full-on essay right now about how thankful I am for the support over the four months since I’ve started blogging, but I’ll save it for the 200 follower Q&A I’m doing! If you have a question for me (literally any question), comment it down below, or reply to the pinned tweet on my Twitter profile. Once again, thank you so much! 💖

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Actually, unlike all of the other books featured in this post, I didn’t acquire this during the summer, but I wanted to include it anyway because it’s the last book I purchased before I started buying books again. I bought it despite the fact that there are free ebooks of it because 1) I prefer to read classics in physical format for some reason, and 2) the Puffin in Bloom editions are gorgeous. Seeing as I’m actually interested in reading Anne of Green Gables, I just had to acquire the Puffin in Bloom version. (But it’s no surprise that I still haven’t read this despite buying it, like, a year ago…)

Vicious by V.E Schwab

I’ve read Schwab’s Monsters of Verity series, and the first book is one of my all-time-favorite books, but the second one disappointed me so much. Despite that, I think Vicious has the potential to be one of my favorites, and that’s saying something because I’m very picky with 5-star reads. Not only does it sound extremely up my alley, but it’s tons of people’s favorites too!

A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti

I put this book on my TBR because a few people have absolutely raved about it, most notably Melanie. I’ve heard that the central theme of the story is considered a spoiler by some, so I avoided finding out what it was, but from what I’ve gathered, this sounds like it will be a hard-hitting read.

Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds

I had heard a few good things about this book, but had never added it to my TBR. I found it on sale, decided why the hell not and purchased it because of its beautiful cover. Closest I’ll ever come to a cover buy, ya’ll.

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

Supposedly, I’m currently reading The Bone Witch, but I don’t think I’ve touched it since May–whoops. (I had to put it down to catch up on arcs…) Rin Chupeco is Filipino, and their Twitter account is the best, so I definitely have to read their work! A lot of people are die-heard fans of this series, especially my fellow PH bloggers, and I have to see what the hype is about!

Skyward by Brandon Sanderson

As someone who considers fantasy her favorite genre, I feel like I absolutely must pick up Sanderson’s adult fantasy books because they’re like, every fantasy lover’s favorite books. I’m just scared of branching out of my usual age group, so the first work I’ll read by Sanderson will be his YA sci-fi. I’ve already read the first chapter of this and the world is so intriguing! Also, I mentioned that I like the UK cover of Skyward a bit more than the US, but the US version is the only one available here. I’m fine with that, though, because the US cover is incredibly beautiful as well. 😍

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee

I have no idea what The Epic Crush of Genie Lo is about (I like going into books not knowing much, okay?), only that it’s a retelling of The Monkey King, which is a tale I also don’t know much about. I added it to my TBR when CW commented on my YARC progress tracker recommending it to me (it’s one of her favorite books!), and since it was for sale, I had to snatch!

Descendant of the Crane by Joan He

Descendant of the Crane is a new release that I’ve been anticipating since the beginning of the year. It’s gotten stellar reviews, and besides that, it’s a Chinese-inspired fantasy by a Chinese author. As someone who is Chinese AF, I am cancelling myself if I still haven’t gotten to this by the time the year ends.

I added in my sister’s funko pop of Dopey in the picture–am I a bookstagrammer yet?

A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

Ever since A Very Large Expanse of Sea came out in 2018, I’ve wanted to read it. It’s an own voices novel following a Muslim girl navigating life after 9/11. Though I wouldn’t consider myself a fan of Tahereh Mafi’s Shatter Me series, I do think that she’s a good writer, and I feel like this book will be extremely visceral, seeing as the author draws from her own experiences as a Muslim hijabi woman.

Warcross by Marie Lu

I’ve heard mixed things about Warcross, but it does sound like an extremely fun read. I’m also very interested in reading something set in Tokyo that has to do with virtual reality worlds!

Now I Rise by Kiersten White

I read and enjoyed And I Darken, and I need to read Now I Rise before I completely forget everything that happened in the first book and have to reread it just to continue on with the series. (Story of my life with series, honestly.)

Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray

I’m currently reading Lair of Dreams after having reread The Diviners. It has been a slow build so far, but I absolutely love how Bray writes 1920’s New York, and Henry Dubois the Fourth is my child.

Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett

Again, I’m a fantasy lover who’s intimidated by the adult fantasy genre, but Foundryside is an adult fantasy that sounds like it’s gonna be amazing. People whose reviews I trust have said amazing things about it, and I figured that getting a physical copy would be the perfect way to force myself to finally read it.

My mom is not happy that I haven’t read any of the books in this haul yet. In my defense, June is Pride Month, and I wanted to prioritize queer books. But my TBR for July will consist of only the books featured here. Please feel free to slap me if I still haven’t finished reading all of these books by the time 2019 ends!

P.S. I feel like such a fake because I included an A:TLA reference in the beginning of this post when I still haven’t finished watching it. I think the last time I watched an episode was last year. *hides in shame*

Have you read any of these books? Is there anything I should prioritize? What are some books that you’ve recently bought?