Book Review: The Sea Of Tranquility by Katja Millay

From Goodreads:

I live in a world without magic or miracles. A place where there are no clairvoyants or shapeshifters, no angels or superhuman boys to save you. A place where people die and music disintegrates and things suck. I am pressed so hard against the earth by the weight of reality that some days I wonder how I am still able to lift my feet to walk.

Former piano prodigy Nastya Kashnikov wants two things: to get through high school without anyone learning about her past and to make the boy who took everything from her—her identity, her spirit, her will to live—pay.

Josh Bennett’s story is no secret: every person he loves has been taken from his life until, at seventeen years old, there is no one left. Now all he wants is be left alone and people allow it because when your name is synonymous with death, everyone tends to give you your space.

Everyone except Nastya, the mysterious new girl at school who starts showing up and won’t go away until she’s insinuated herself into every aspect of his life. But the more he gets to know her, the more of an enigma she becomes. As their relationship intensifies and the unanswered questions begin to pile up, he starts to wonder if he will ever learn the secrets she’s been hiding—or if he even wants to.

Published: November 2012
Author: Katja Millay
Pages: 448
My Rating: 4/5
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary 

I have been reading about damaged and broken teenagers with life threatening diseases this year and every time I start by expecting just a light hearted everyday story. But that does not happen. Not that I am complaining.

First of all, I loved this book because of all the sarcasm in it. That edgy sarcastic, fun teenager vibe which I really liked. It made me miss my friends so much more because the one thing I love about them is awesome come backs and all those inside jokes. And I am already missing the fact that that will be hard to accomplish now. 
Millay started the story with Nastiya (which I kept pronouncing N-aas-tiya reminding me of ‘nasty’) starting her life all over again. Instead of hiding herself in oversized sweats and geeky glasses, she does the opposite which I found a little different. And for the first time I read about a popular high school boy having real life issues in his own image instead of just being perfect. So I have to say that the characters were pretty perfect. 
I really liked how the story was not just about two teenagers but in fact three of them. I loved all the Sunday dinners at Drew’s house, Nastiya’s baking, Josh’s wood work and Drew’s debating. The concept of hobbies is dying these days making people think that watching movies and listening to songs is a hobby which it really is not. So I loved that some real hobbies were incorporated in this book. 
Although I did get a little sick of all the high school drama going on in the middle of the book. But the ending did not disappoint me at all. Especially the answer to Josh’s question. It was a great book.


Book Review: Against Medical Advice by James Patterson and Hal Friedman

From Goodreads: 

Cory Friedman woke up one morning when he was five years old with the uncontrollable urge to twitch his neck. From that day forward his life became a hell of irrepressible tics and involuntary utterances, and Cory embarked on an excruciating journey from specialist to specialist to discover the cause of his disease. Soon it became unclear what tics were symptoms of his disease and what were side effects of the countless combinations of drugs. The only certainty is that it kept getting worse. Simply put: Cory Friedman’s life was a living hell

Published: October, 2008
Author: James Patterson, Hal Friedman
Genre: Non Fiction, Biography
My Rating: 5/5
Pages: 304

Once in a while, you read a book that leaves you so spell bounded and heart broken that you cannot even think about it. It is not just a story for you. It becomes more like a memoir. Last month I read The Fault In Our Stars and I thought to myself, I won’t be reading anything this heart breaking and sobbing any time soon. And as Cory puts it, I was wrong.

I was reading something very boring and I opened James Patterson to read something different and feel the thrill of what he writes. But I had no idea that this book was life changing. I guarantee one thing. If you read this book, it will change your life. It will change the way you think about it. The way you perceive it.

Cory is a drug addict. Not the kind you are thinking right now, no. Doctors made him one. He had Tourettes Syndrome and OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). In short, his mind is not in his control, let alone his body. Its worse than cancer. And reading about him trying to figure out why he is spitting on his own sister when he does not want to, will make you cry.

Cory is a legend. He has achieved things in such a young age that people do not even do in their lifetime. I salute Cory Friedman. I loved ever bit of his journey, his failures and his triumphs, his struggles with life, struggles which were not even his own creation. He just had to deal with the crap that life is. But thing is, he made the most out of it, unlike any of us. He defeated life at its own game.  He turned his fears into his wins. His life was hell and one day, something changed and he decided to turn his life around. I am actually hoping that happens to me, some switch turns on and I get to see life in a different way.

The book itself was written in a very simple way, with the narrative being Cory himself but the story was so heart breaking that it needed nothing else. The story itself was very strong and had a great impact.The best part about the book was that he enjoyed his life even through all the awkward situations he went through. And I want to ride a bike like he does, someday.

“I will survive. I will love life; if life will love me.” -Cory Friedman 


Top Ten Tuesday: Books on My Fall List 2013

I am not the kind of person who chooses ahead of time what to read. These days my TBR list is so long, I have lists instead of a list. And the buying list is even longer. So for me, I just read the book as I buy them or just start a random one from my TBR list. But I do have some of the books that I tend to look forward to reading them more than the others.

Top Ten Books On My Fall List 2013

1.Cuckoo’s Calling by J.K.Rowling:
When the news of J.K.Rowling writing under a pen name broke out, I was thrilled. I did not really like The Casual Vacancy but I am really looking forward to reading this. Besides its a murder mystery written by J.K.Rowling. Double the awesomeness in one book.

2.And The Mountains Echoed by Khalid Hosseni:
I don’t really read books the minute they are released if they are not a series book. So this time I was like I will try to read the latest releases a little earlier. Lets see how that goes. And I just love the cover of this book.

3. Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon:

I recently found out about the Outlander series and they sound awesome. It has a total of 8 books out of which 7 are already out. I hate reding a series and than waiting for the next book to come. So this is perfect for me.

4. The Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas:
This has been on my TBR for so long that I cannot even remember. But somehow every time I pick it up, I end up putting it back. And its from one of my favourite authors. I have high expectations for this book because I have seen the movie and it was excellent. I love Orlando Bloom.

5.Inferno by Dan Brown:
This has been the book that I have waited the most for. I love Dan Brown and his books. But I want to buy it and then read it. Unfortunately, its sold out where I live. So I have to wait for the stock to come.

6.Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libba Bray:

I really want to read this or at least one of Libba Bray’s books this fall. The plot sounds really good and I have heard great things about it.

7.The Fiery Heart by Richelle Meade: (Bloodlines Book 4)
Adrian and Sydney ! Ofcourse. Who does not want to read about them ? When Richelle Mead released the first two chapters of the book, I went all gaga and I was swooning over Adrian. Besides this summer I have read heart wrenching book, I am in dire need of Adrian and his witty handsome self.


Book Review: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

From Goodreads:

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media–as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents–the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter–but is he really a killer?

As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

Published: May, 2012

Author: Gillian Flyn
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Crime
Pages: 395

My Review:

The story starts with Amy, Nick’s wife gone missing. At first, we look at their picture perfect marriage but then little by little, when all the layers are peeled back, you get to see the real scenario. It goes from East to West in a single page. At one point Nick is the victim and Amy is to blame but than its vice versa. So you have no idea who is at fault because both of them clearly have made mistakes of their own, you just have to analyze and decide 
whose mistake is the biggest.

I loved the battle between the good and bad. It is totally up to the reader to decide who is guilty, Amy or Nick. Who is the bigger jack ass ? And for me, both of them were guilty but Amy was down right vicious. She was insane. She should have been in a mental hospital or something. She plans her own murder. Her whole life is about planning and avenging for things like not paying enough attention to her. This was her game. This was the way she lived her life because she had nothing better to do.

It is the creepiest and the most horrific story I have ever read. It is better than a Stephen King horror story. Its so brilliant. I have no words. I was literally shivering and had goosebumps reading this book. It is one of those books which has a lot of intricate details, twists and turns, so everything needs to be perfect for the book to be good. It was more than perfect.

In the starting, I did not think that I would feel sorry for Nick but I did. He constantly battles with himself, to not be his father but be a better person. And thing is you can pretend for so long. The walls you create around yourself, creating a persona that never existed, it all comes crashing down someday.

I do not know if people like Nick and Amy exist in this world. I hope they don’t. But if they do, than this world is much more horrifying than we all think. And God have mercy on anyone who ends up with a Nick or an Amy. 


To Win, Be Willing To Lose

This year, because it was my senior year, everyone was looking into colleges and making final decisions about their studies. But what was shocking was the fact that so many of my classmates were not willing to try out.  They knew what they wanted, but they were not willing to work for it. They were fixated that they will not get in the college they want because they are not good enough. Or because the competition is very tough. And that really pissed me off. One of my own best friends was afraid that she might not be able to handle the responsibility of becoming a Doctor. I think, being a human being is the biggest responsibility. Because life itself is a competition. Its the biggest race there ever is.

I was watching a movie, involving a figure skater and her life and one of the characters says, “To win, you have to be willing to lose.” What makes a winner, a winner is losing the first 100 times. Losing does not mean giving up. It just means working harder. For me, in order to win, whether it is Olympic Gymnastics or a History test, you have to be willing to try your best. Work your butt off, wake up when its still dark and work on your piques or learn the French proverbs. You have to be willing to push yourself, to let yourself go out there. And you have to be willing to face your fears and failures. . 
I remember when I was doing five sports at once in 5th grade. There were before school practices, after school practices and weekend practices. I used to eat on the way. And then I wanted to do Skipping as well. It was something I had never done before and a friend of mine was excellent at it. The first time I did skipping, I did 25 turns. Then I started working on it and in the competition, came second and I did 250 turns. I nailed it. That rush of adrenaline pumping through my body, my face all flushed and my coach telling me to go change for the next sport, it was surreal. 
My mom always says that you do not get anything handed to you on a silver platter. Figure skaters, gymnasts, swimmers, etc turn their whole lives around just to get a single gold medal. For them normal is not a word. A Gymnast lands on her butt 100 times a day, yet she still gets up and then nails her routine. They do all that just to stand on that podium, wear that Gold Medal and be called an Olympian. I used to see Gymnastics with  my Nano and I always wondered how beautiful, bold, graceful and enchanting they look. But none of us get to see the purple bruises all over their bodies, some brand new, some days old, bags under their eyes and hands hard as a rock. Those injuries are what make them capable of winning. 
Like Iqbal said, 

“Tu shaheen hai Parwaaz hai kaam tera  

Tere samne Aasman aur bhi hai”

Work for it. Work till you fall. Pick yourself up. Fall again. And then again and again. Than pick yourself up again. And keep picking yourself up till you forget what falling is. Work for it, till every bone in your body wants what your heart desires. Till every damn muscle aches and all the ice packs in the world cannot make that pain disappear. This is your fight, only and only yours. With your demons of fears and failures. And only you can defeat those demons. 

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Would Love To See As A Movie/TV Show

When it comes to books made into movies and TV shows, I do not have a good experience. Ofcourse, they cannot capture every minute detail in a 2 hour movie. And the best example of this disaster is none other than Harry Potter. But like any other Bibliophile, I still have hope that someday all the movies will be made like I want. It will have the cast as I visione it and everything from the clothes to the props to locations will be of my choice. That has not happened yet but you never know. 

Top Ten Books I Would Love To See As A Movie/TV Show (set in a perfect world…in which movies don’t butcher the books we love.

1.Looking For Alaska by John Green:

The main reason I want to see this as a movie is because of all the awesome pranks they do. I love pranks and have done my share of them in middle school. I really want to see the last prank that they do in the book, being done in real life. I think that was the best part about this book. 

2. The Girl Who Played With Fire by Steig Larson:

I watched The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo first and than read the book. I loved the movie, so I did contemplate whether to read the book or not. But ofcourse I read it. And I have to say, it is the first book that has been made into a perfect movie. There are literally no changes, not a single word or scene. So I really am looking forward to watching the rest of the movies as well. 

3. I am the messenger by Markus Zusak:

If the essence of this book is portrayed on screen, than this will be a perfect movie. It is different than your average romantic or comedy or action movies. 

4. Amar Bail by Umera Ahmad:

Being  a huge Umera Ahmad fan, I obviously want this to be turned into a television show. But I want it to be perfect with the dream cast who can actually create magic like Umera does in the book. And this is almost impossible. But I do hope that it happens.

5. The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke:

This book was in my brothers books. I just picked it up to read it at the dinner table but I have to say, I ended up falling in love. The story is so awesome. This book made me want to have a gang of my own and be a thief. And till today, I had no idea that it has a movie as well. I haven’t watched it yet but I hope it is upto my expectations. 

6. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen:

This is one book that is never made into a movie right. Something is amiss in the movie. And I hate that. Although I did sort of get the perfect version through the Lizzie Bennet Diaries which is almost perfect. But I do want a movie. 

7. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn:

I just heard that a movie is being made and Ben Afflick has been cast as Nick. I think he will do a good job. But I want the movie to be like the book. I want to decide between good and bad on every scene of the movie. This book has very strong and complicated characters and the movie will be nothing if the actors don’t do a good job. 

My movie watching strategy is that I do not go for movies made on books. I watch the movie regardless of whether it is a book or not. But now I have to keep track, so I don’t end up watching the movie before the book. And as far as movies are concerned, I am an action person. So my movies and books, thankfully, rarely cross paths. 


Book Review: The Camel Club by David Baldacci

Goodreads Review:

Existing at the fringes of Washington D.C., the Club consists of four eccentric members. Led by a mysterious man know as “Oliver Stone,” they study conspiracy theories, current events, and the machinations of government to discover the “truth” behind the country’s actions. Their efforts bear little fruit — until the group witnesses a shocking murder … and become embroiled in an astounding, far reaching conspiracy. Now the Club must join forces with a Secret Service agent to confront one of the most chilling spectacles ever to take place on American soil — an event that may trigger the ultimate war between two different worlds. And all that stands in the way of this apocalypse is five unexpected heroes.

Published: 2005

Author: David Baldacci
Genre: Fiction, Thriller, Suspense, 


My Review:

I love David Baldacci. So obviously, I loved this as well. I am in awe of him. And my respect has increased so much more for him. I have read a lot of books that have written about Islam and Pakistan in relation to terrorism. And somehow even in books, terrorism and Jihad gets related to Islam and its teachings. This was the FIRST book that I read which was so true. I felt like my feelings were spoken out loud. I could tell how much research has been done by the author and how much knowledge he holds. I have never read or met a person who knows as much about Islam as a Muslim. And being portrayed right in a book for the first time, I was exhilarated. Salute ! 

He has explained Islam first and then terrorism. Not only that he has actually written the truth about USA. We were searching for a debate topic last year when I came to know that US actually has a debt of 3 trillion. And very few people are aware of that. He has explained everything in such an amazing manner that you are shocked to learn the actual facts from the garbage that is portrayed on TV. 

I am a conspiracy thriller lover, so I loved it. The build up of suspense in it, all the action going and than everything falling into place, it was all worth a read. 

I do have a problem with one thing though. And that is Oliver Stones age. He is 62 which is old for me. I get that its not considered old in US but its old. I loved the mix and match up of all the different personalities from the rare books librarian to the computer genius. I would love to meet Caleb and see the Library of Congress. 

After reading this book, I got all nostalgic and now I want to meet Baldacci. I want to tell him how big a deal it is for me to see someone write the truth for something I believe in. Everyone has faults, America is no saint. Than why is it that third world countries get blamed for most of the things ? This book gives you an insider to what actually happens and the fact that half of the wars are inflicted by US itself. We need to see the good and bad in everyone. We only see good in people or bad in the other. 

This was one informative book which I thoroughly enjoyed and I look forward to reading the rest of Baldacci. 


Book Review: Can You Keep a Secret ? by Sophie Kinsella

Emma is just like any other girl with secrets. She is not who she pretends to be. Like she does not know what NATO stands for.  Even her own best friend does not know her. And then she blabs all her secrets to a stranger on a plane ride. And that stranger turns out to be her handsome boss named Jack Harper, the C.E.O. Now, there is one person who knows all about her and every single embarrassing detail.  What will happen if the world comes to know about everything ? Will her life come crashing down onto her ? Or will she be able to survive it ? 
Published: 2003
Author: Sophie Kinsella
Genre: Fiction, Chick Lit
Review Ratings: ****

Goodreads Review: Can you keep a secret ?

I am not much of a chick lit reader. But I love Sophie Kinsella’s books. I loved Shopaholic series. This one was also amazing in a different way. I am a blabber as well. Once me and my friends blabbed about a debate couch to a guy for like an hour and he turned out to be her brother, which lets just say did not turn out to be the best scenario for us.

I liked how the concept that every one of us has secrets was portrayed. The author turned lies into some of the secrets. But then, having and keeping secrets is another name of lying.

It was interesting to see how Jack teases her about everything and she is the only one who knows what he is talking about. There is a bit of a banter between them which is pretty amusing.

Overall this was a very refreshing humourous read, not just filled with romance and crappy love story but more of how a major weakness of everyone is secrets. And once they are out, there is nothing you can do about it. You have to live with it. And that is what Emma does.

Quotes From The Book:

She believes in love and romance. She believes her life is one day going to be transformed into something wonderful and exciting. She has hopes and fears and worries, just like anyone. Sometimes she feels frightened. Sometimes she feels unloved. Sometimes she feels she will never gain approval from those people who are most important to her. But she’s brave and good-hearted and faces her life head-on.”

 “I’ve always had this deep-down conviction that I’m not like everybody else, and there’s an amazingly exciting new life waiting for me just around the corner.

…Sumaica Asad Piracha… 

Top Ten Books I Wish Were Taught in Schools

This is actually very ironic. I remember reading What Katy Did, Oliver Twist, Robinson Crusoe, etc in middle school but when I moved to Qatar in 6th grade, class reading changed drastically. There was no concept of reading novels as part of a syllabus. Our books had excerpts from different classics which was very boring. So obviously, for me I would have loved to be taught books in school. Because I know how much fun it is, reading and having book discussions over a book. These are some of the books that I would have loved to read in class with the amazing English teacher I had.

Top Ten Books I Wish Were Taught In Schools:

1. The Count of Monte Cristo :

This is a perfect high school book. It is a classic. So all the teachers who are more into literature and classics will not oppose this. It is a story of revenge, betrayal, trust, integrity, patience, everything that one would want in a book. It took me about a week to read it and it is 1600 pages long. But it is worth the read. And this is my most favourite book.

2. Hunger Games:

Or any good dystopian novel. High school is like playing Hunger Games. Instead of districts, there are different groups from the most popular to geeks, drama queens etc. Its all about surviving in those four most important years of your life where you have to enjoy your teenage life while making a future for yourself. Reading such a book gives you the satisfaction that you are not alone in this fight of yours with the world. And it is not boring.

3. 19 Minutes:

This is such a perfect book. I read it after I finished High School this year and I truly understood what bullying does to a person. It breaks you. It destroys a person. This should be taught so students would know how it feels to be bullied. I know that not everyone is attentive in school, but even if you get the message across one person, that is all that matters.

4. Paper Towns:

When I finished reading this book, I so badly wanted to discuss it with
my English teacher. There were so many things I had a problem with and I thought to myself, damn, I wish I was taught this in school. It has a lot philosophy in it which needs class discussions and a teacher to make you go into the depth of things. I understood the story but I know I would have gotten much more out of it.

5. I Am the Messenger:

Aaaaahhhh. Markus Zusak. What should I say ? The message of this book is beautiful. At first you might not be into the book but it leaves a life lasting impact on you. After reading this book, Zusak shot up on my Best Author list. This is for all the lazy asses out there who instead of doing something in life, just lie around waiting for things to work out by magic.

6. Little Women:

I read this book when I was very young and I loved it. It is my mothers favourite book and I think this was the first classic she bought me. Its such a great story of love, family, friendships and so much more. Jo and Larry are my favourite characters and I was devastated when Jo says no to him. That was the first time I wanted to have a sister, looking at the fun that Jo, Meg, Amy and Beth have. I have read this book countless times, so obviously I know their names by heart.

7. The Book Thief:

Teachers want their students to learn something new everyday. What is a better way of learning what Nazi Germany was like than reading about it from a very different perspective ? I have read a lot about the era of Hitler and Nazism but this was such a different read on a very common topic. And its a book about a girls love for books and words. Nothing can be better for me.


What are you ? -Poem

Photograph by Saleha Jamil

What are you ?
A bitter truth
Or a sweet lie

What are you ?
The blues in the sky
Or the dark circles under my eyes

What are you ?
A good nights sleep
Or a bad mornings awake

What are you ?
A lipstick stain on my shirt
Or a sign that says I will be hurt

What are you ?
My inner demons
Or the angel I appear to be

What are you ?
My deepest desires
Or happiness that I require