Contemporary, Islamic Romance, Romance, Young Adult

Love from Mecca to Medina

Author: S. K. Ali

Publisher: by Simon Schuster Books

Number of Pages:  352 Pages

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Rating: 5 stars

Thanks for the free e book Simonteen, Author S.K Ali (@sajidahwrites) and Colored Pages Blog Tours!

Follow on Instagram – @the_book_witch_of_hogwarts

Description:

Adam and Zayneb. Perfectly matched. Painfully apart.

Adam is in Doha, Qatar, making a map of the Hijra, a historic migration from Mecca to Medina, and worried about where his next paycheck will come from. Zayneb is in Chicago, where school and extracurricular stresses are piling on top of a terrible frenemy situation, making her miserable.

Then a marvel occurs: Adam and Zayneb get the chance to spend Thanksgiving week on the Umrah, a pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, in Saudi Arabia. Adam is thrilled; it’s the reboot he needs and an opportunity to pray for a hijra in real life: to migrate to Zayneb in Chicago. Zayneb balks at the trip at first, having envisioned another kind of vacation, but then decides a spiritual reset is calling her name too. And they can’t wait to see each other—surely, this is just what they both need.

But the trip is nothing like what they expect, from the appearance of Adam’s former love interest in their traveling group to the anxiety gripping Zayneb when she’s supposed to be “spiritual.” As one wedge after another drives them apart while they make their way through rites in the holy city, Adam and Zayneb start to wonder: was their meeting just an oddity after all? Or can their love transcend everything else like the greatest marvels of the world?

(I was provided with an e – ARC by the author in exchange for an honest review. All the opinions, thoughts and feelings expressed below are my own)

My Review:

Before delving into my review let me tell you, this is not just a simple love story. There’s more to this story, this story is the spiritual journey of a couple who are madly in love. No Hanky Panky here, just love, life and understanding. S.K Ali takes us to a different realm of spirituality through this book.

Zayneb living in Chicago completing her studies and Adam living in Qatar trying to find an art project to work on, they both were looking for a getaway so they could spend some quality time together. All their plans changed when Adam’s father brings up the idea of Umrah. Adam loves it and Zayneb, not much. But she was happy to be with Adam until she met Sarina, the woman Adam liked before he met Zayneb.

The first thing I liked about this book was the chapter headings. Every chapter heading was about an artifact that was related to their journey and each artifact had an interpretive label too. I found it fascinating!

I loved how relatable both the characters were. Zayneb as a woman who wears a hijab tries her best to prove herself in a world where everyone’s against her. as for Adam, he’s trying his best to be the perfect man for Zayneb. Their vulnerability, self- doubt and constant arguments in their heads felt very real. That was the most humane thing I noticed in these characters. I liked how these characters came with flaws instead of trying to be this perfect and powerful characters. Their struggle to be the best version of themselves is something that attracted me towards these characters than in Love from A to Z. The characters were extremely realistic. Loved Sasaun for being that boss lady! Her part in the story was very influential. Same goes with Janna. I love that cute woman for being so intelligent!

Every chapter had a beautiful reminder. Chapter five says “…giving charity doesn’t decrease wealth according to Islamic tradition, so I should be good” and this one Quranic verse was given in few places (if my memory serves me right) , “Verily, with every hardship, there is relief’ (Chapter 94: Verse 6). Every time I read it I felt so much peace within me, I was at the verge of tears. This is why I mentioned earlier, this wasn’t just a romance to me.

The way they misunderstood each other to finally accept each other was such a beautiful way of defining their relationship. Everything that happened between them, involving others was just another step to strengthen their relationship. the last few sentences of Chapter 8 are stuck in my head. How true it was, to not depend on a person but to depend on the lord himself to fill that gaping void inside you. I felt so grateful after reading that part. She took romance to another level! The sudden change of events made me feel so bad I could feel physical pain in my heart. (This is normal for a reader)

The story was a reminder, to set ones priorities straight and live in the moment. Like they did with each other and the creator.

The journey to Mecca was incredible! I have no words to describe it. It was so beautiful, I can still picture it. I bawled when they stood in front of Ka’aba. I stopped reading just to make a prayer to bless me, so that I can visit there one day too (In Shaa Allah). The way the author had described every step of Umrah, even a non- Muslim would easily understand it. It was written with so well that I saw everything like I was there, for real. 🥹 From Mecca to Medina, the way events took place, that was the best part for me! The pain of separation, being misunderstood, miscommunication and not being able to talk to each other at all. It was torture! But that came with more learnings. Sasaun was portrayed like a very strict woman at this point but she was right all along, they needed the break. The journey from Makkah to Madina was awakening. The journey has always been a special one isn’t it? Since the days of Prophet (PBUH) the journey was considered the most enlightening and S. K Ali definitely knew how to utilize the fact! Well done! ♥️

The story also had slightly touched upon discrimination against minority groups. I was so furious about Murie, I wanted to crush her to a pulp!

This book made me laugh and bawl while reading. It was such a heart warming read. Unputdownable!

S. K Ali has made a 100% successful attempt at writing a book that talks about Muslims in a very simple way. A story that will help you discover yourself. This ain’t no ordinary love story, it’s a spiritual journey that’ll help you discover yourself. It’s a story that tells you how important the this moment, the present is and how important your sanity is.

If you loved ‘Love from A to ZA sequel worth reading! Enjoyed every bit of it! If you’re looking for light read with realistic characters and beautiful reminders, this is the book you’ve been looking for.

“There is a door of hope in every moment of life that remains”

Until next time,

Much love

Amna xoxo

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fantasy, Magic, Young Adult

A Quest of Blood and Stone (The Seod Croi Chronicles – Book 1)

Author: S. Usher Evans

Publisher: by Sun’s Golden Ray Publishing

Number of Pages:  Kindle Edition

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4 stars

Description:

Seventeen years ago, King Bresal was murdered by his new bride, the fae Leandra, who disappeared with the Pennlan Stone, a magical weapon that can only be wielded by the sovereign. Now that her own coronation is approaching, Princess Ayla, Bresal’s human daughter, is hoping to reclaim the stone to protect her people. Her wizard mentor, Eoghan, thinks he knows where Leandra might have hidden the stone: deep in the heart of fae country.

The obvious choice for the task is Cade, Eoghan’s apprentice and Ayla’s best friend. He’s keen to prove himself to his princess and to take the final step to complete his training. But Eoghan assigns a knight-Ward-to accompany Cade on the journey. Ward, freshly arrived from the border cities, seems to have his own reasons for volunteering for this mission, namely to win the love of Ayla for himself.

But as the journey takes them far from home, Cade and Ward discover that their quest might be more complicated than they’d anticipated, especially when a mysterious fae girl tells them Eoghan isn’t to be trusted-and she’s the one with a clear path to the stone.

My Review:

The story revolves around Ayla, princess of Pennlan, Cade, her best friend and Ward, a new recruit of Ayla’s royal guard. All three of them are to start a new chapter in their lives. Princess Ayla to be the Queen, Cade, a wizard apprentice wants to prove himself and Ward to start his journey as a Royal guard.

Ayla’s biggest threat was her stepmother who had stolen the magical stone that can be only wielded by a member of the Royal family. Eoghan, the wizard mentor who saved her life thinks that, she still isn’t ready to take up the queendom and Ayla tries to prove herself to him throughout the story.

This epic fantasy is the first volume of the Seod Croi Chronicles. This was a bit of Lord of the Rings mixed with mythology to me. I mean two guys and a fae girl sent on a quest while the young princess tries to save the kingdom. I definitely need more of this story!

I was honestly annoyed with Ayla at the beginning. But the more I read Ayla reminded of Bryanna from the Princess Vigilante series written by Usher Evans herself. I noticed Ayla’s character getting better with time. I wasn’t very much happy about Cade either. The way Cade and Ward warmed towards each other honestly made me happy. Finally they’ll stop bickering! (lol) Thinking of Eoghan, I don’t trust him. I just have a feeling that he might be the villain but guess what? I’ll have to wait to know that. I loved the mystery created through the fae girl.

The setting wasn’t so different from the usual fae or human realms but I could tell that this was set in the medieval society. The use of mythical creatures and magic was just so amazing!

The fact that the author had narrated stories of the past connecting the present made the story even better. Three POVs gave more depth to the story.

What I loved the most was the building of friendship along with the story. It was heart warming.

This was a bit slow phased and the author had given much attention to detail. The author has made sure that the remains curious until the end. The cliff hanger at the end makes you want to read the next book immediately!

It was a beautiful read. No smut! (YESS!!!) An enchanting, thrilling, adventurous and enjoyable read.

Lovers of fantasies and adventures, are you looking for a good book to read? Pick “A Quest of Blood and Stone”!! Loved it and recommend it!

Until next time,

Yours,

Amna Zaman. xoxo

Disclaimer: I was given a free e-arc to review in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my review in any way.

fantasy, Magic, Young Adult

Witch – Blood: Volume 1

Author: Wix Solis

Kindle Edition

Number of Pages:  110 Pages

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3.5 stars

Description:

In a world where four schools of magic reign: Sun&Moon, Nature, Chaos and Blood. A fifth has been forged strong enough to free the hunger; Death magic.

This is the story of how a girl and her familiar are the last hope for humanity and don’t even know it.

My Review:

First of all, Thank you author Wix Solis for sending me an e-arc of your book.

The story revolves around Sophia, an amateur blood witch who has her own secrets to hide from the world, while those around her hide so many things from her too.

The book starts with a dream or at least a dream that is meant to be a test. Sophia was being tested at her school and her ability to handle complex and forbidden blood spells were continuously looked down upon. This part reminded me of Yennefer of Vengerberg and Aretuza from ‘The Witcher’. 🙂 Even though Sophia was more of loner, I liked her circle of friends. Especially the moon witch, Pannah.

I honestly loved and enjoyed the use of magical beings and entities throughout the story. There were times I was confused especially during the battle but, I guess I’ll have to wait for the second volume to know the truth behind many things.

Querf reminded me a little of Dobby the house elf, yet he was true to his character of a Gremlin. Mischievous.

I felt a pang of sadness for Sophia for what she had to go through by the end of the story. (I’ll avoid spoilers here. Head over to GoodReads to read *mild spoilers*)

Great world building. It had the dark features of a ruined, chaotic magical world.

The book was a great start to introduce a new world filled with magic. There were times I wanted more explanations. This story has great potential in terms of improvement. I have quite a number of questions and now I’ve to wait to know what happens to the gang at the next realm, The Gap.

A slow-building, great story for anyone who love reading fantasy.

Until next time,

Amna Zaman, xoxo

Fairy Tale Retelling, fantasy, Mythology

Six Crimson Cranes

“Pain doesn’t get easier. You just have to get stronger.”

Author: Elizabeth Lim

Publisher: by Random House Children’s Books

Number of Pages:  454 Pages

Genre: Fantasy / Mythology/ Fairytale retelling

Rating: 5 stars

Description:

Shiori, the only princess of Kiata, has a secret. Forbidden magic runs through her veins. Normally she conceals it well, but on the morning of her betrothal ceremony, Shiori loses control. At first, her mistake seems like a stroke of luck, forestalling the wedding she never wanted, but it also catches the attention of Raikama, her stepmother.

Raikama has dark magic of her own, and she banishes the young princess, turning her brothers into cranes, and warning Shiori that she must speak of it to no one: for with every word that escapes her lips, one of her brothers will die.

Penniless, voiceless, and alone, Shiori searches for her brothers, and, on her journey, uncovers a conspiracy to overtake the throne—a conspiracy more twisted and deceitful, more cunning and complex, than even Raikama’s betrayal. Only Shiori can set the kingdom to rights, but to do so she must place her trust in the very boy she fought so hard not to marry. And she must embrace the magic she’s been taught all her life to contain—no matter what it costs her.

My Review:

Beautiful. Enchanting. Nostalgic.

Nostalgic? Because this is a retelling of the fairy tale ‘The Wild Swans’ by Hans Christian Anderson or the Grimm Brothers. This story took me back to the days when I used to read and watch this exact fairy tale and was fascinated about it.

Now let me delve into my review.

First of all, it’s the cover. I mean, just look at it! Such a beautiful cover.

This book is a beautifully written masterpiece using the folklore/fairytale of ‘The Wild Swans’. I haven’t read a retelling of this lore so far. Merging the original lore and Chinese mythology together to weave a story that’s enchanting, wasn’t something I was expecting. I loved this aspect of the book. The author had woven the whole fairy tale and the mythology into a very rich tale of family, love, friendship and adventure.

The Wild Swans (Cartoon)

Excellent world-building. It was as if I’m watching a Dreamy Drama Sequence throughout the book. Felt so magical. The use of Asian mythology didn’t disappoint me even a bit. The author didn’t stop just there, she even added parts of the Chinese/Japanese-inspired cultural aspects. From rituals, festivals, clothing, and food to dragons, she had given thought to everything. The politics within was so good too.

Talking of the characters in this book, I loved the main character of this story. Shiorianma turns into a brave and open-minded girl from being a naïve and mollycoddled kid. Her character growth was inspiring and she wasn’t like any of the female roles I’ve read before, who used to be tough after everything they’ve gone through. The feminine aspect of the character was carried throughout and it was beautiful for me. The fact that she failed and kept fighting felt so human. She wasn’t trying to be a goddess with all her magic instead she fought to stay humane.

The brothers’ characters were just as amazing as Shiori’s. The bond between them and Shiori was so heartwarming. Loved Seryu as well. For a dragon, he was so nice towards a human being. And Takkan, he was a gentleman. And I really really liked the fact that this wasn’t all about romance. The fact that they weren’t all over each other the next moment was something I was honestly happy about. Slow building romance, I loved it!

Raikama, I don’t want to spoil it for you but I’ll say she was the best villain and the best mother!

The Plot Twist, I wasn’t expecting it! A jaw-dropping moment! The story seemed so simple at the beginning but Lim definitely knew how to make things complicated.

Flawless and beautiful writing.  Lovers of fantasy and mythology, this is a must-read for you!!! You are going to love it.

Until next time,

Yours,

Amna Zaman. XoXo

Dystopian Books, Sci-fi

Red Rising (Red Rising Saga #1)

“The measure of a man is what he does when he has power.”

Author: Pierce Brown

Publisher: by Hodder Books

Number of Pages:   382 Pages

Genre: Dystopian/ Sci Fi/ Fantasy

Rating: 4. 5 stars

Description

Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations.

Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children.

But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity already reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet. Darrow—and Reds like him—are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.

Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity’s overlords struggle for power. He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society’s ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies… even if it means he has to become one of them to do so. (Via Goodreads)

My Review:

First of all, I’m so glad that I picked up this book to read despite having a huge TBR. But well, we all do have that one long TBR, don’t we? I’ve heard and been hearing a lot about this book lately. I’ve seen rants upon rants about this particular series on Instagram and I could remember the chaos set free on the day of the final book release of the Saga. So I thought it’s finally the time to see what this whole thing is about. And I must say I wasn’t disappointed.

The story revolves around Darrow, a sixteen year old miner who toils in the lands of Mars. In his world, human beings are scattered across the universe with gold being in the topmost tier and the red being the lowest. Darrow’s life was turned upside down when he and his wife Eo was caught trespassing a garden that was prohibited for the Reds to visit. Both of them will be hung to death where Darrow will be rescued by the Sons of Ares, a group of rebels who work against the governing system. He will be trained as a gold to stand against the golds within the system.

I was a little skeptical about reading it at the beginning as it started quite slow and I felt as if I might have to strain myself to read it. But, no I was wrong!! I was hooked since the death of Darrow. This was one hell of a ride! even though I took too much time to finish it, I was enjoying it. Devoured it bit by bit.

The world-building was excellent! Humanity is scattered across the universe. A class system divided by power, ability and money. High-tech equipment and an Oligarchic regime. The society was divided by colours and the most powerful in the society turns out to be the privileged. The society is divided using colours such as Golds, Greys, Obsidians, Pinks, Reds etc. Even though I’m not sure who does what exactly, I’ve got a pretty good idea about how this society works.

When it comes to characters, this story had a very rich combination of characters. From the protagonist to the bad guys (because there were many), each and every character was narrated well. I loved Mustang and looking forwards to see what’s in store for her. I hope she doesn’t turn into a villain. I also loved the character of Sevro. A loyal friend to the very end. I found Darrow a little annoying sometimes.

Talking about the Dystopian factor of this book, the book definitely has talked about the humanity being scattered across the universe, which we are talking about as we witness the earth dying. (I mean seriously we gotta do something about it! We can’t be civilizing the universe for real! :p )

The book addresses the issue of class discrimination. The author had used different classes in the society to show what the current world goes through. The message was very clear from the beginning. Capitalism and oligarchy.

Love, friendship and loyalty were few other important themes the author had discussed throughout the story.

Was a little graphic. It isn’t very direct but there are mentions of rape, abuse and brutal death. Could have come with slight trigger warnings.

I definitely enjoyed it. Dystopian, Sci – Fi and Fantasy lovers, this is your call to pick ‘Red Rising’.

Until next time,

Yours,

Amna Zaman. XoXo

Uncategorized

The City of Brass

Author: S. A Chakraborty

Publisher: by Harper Voyager

Number of Pages:   Pages 533 Pages

Genre: Fantasy/ Mythology/ Historical Fiction

Rating: 4. 5 stars

Description :

Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of 18th century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trade she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles.

But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to accept that the magical world she thought only existed in childhood stories is real. For the warrior tells her a new tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling hawks are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass, a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound.

In that city, behind gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences.

After all, there is a reason they say be careful what you wish for… (goodreads)

My Review:

“Greatness takes time, Banu Nahida. Often the mightiest things have the humblest beginnings.”

The story starts when Nahri, a con artist living in Cairo accidentally summons a Djinn warrior in one of the rituals she performed. Learning that she isn’t entirely human, the Djinn Dara takes her to Deavabad, The city of Brass. We follow Nahri and Dara in this story where they were caught between fierce politics and a lot of complications.

At the same time, we also follow Ali, the second Prince of Deavabad and the Qaid to the king and his struggle to bring equality among the Djinns. We also get to learn about the politics of the Djinn civilization through Ali’s acts.

I was very skeptical about reading this book. The stories I’ve heard about Djinns in real life and how Islam talks about Djinns was something that was bothering me at the beginning. I wasn’t entirely sure if I’m going to like this story or not. Anyways I embarked on this book with an open mind expecting the story to sweep me off my feet.

  • Characters

Nahri, the protagonist is an independent, amazing and a sharp-witted character. I loved her wittiness and humour. I even liked how she gets what she wants, adamant.

Dara the Djinn, I really adore him. Has a dark past, loves dearly, protects Nahri with his life, has green bright eyes, sarcastic and etc. He ticked off all the qualities of a book boyfriend but the fact that he is a Djinn kind of holds me from falling in love with him. But I really really adore him! How did he have a body if he isn’t alive? :O

Ali is such a sweetheart!! I really liked how calm and poised he is. A very empathetic and an understanding man. Ali is a beautiful example of a dedicated Muslim who also has power to wield magic and blessed with good looks as well. Loved his devotion to his religion. The more I read about him, the more I turn towards Team Ali!! (I can’t give a word yet, until I finish the whole series but as for now I’ll be on the side of Team Ali)

I liked the character development of Munthadir, from the good one to the jealous and villainous brother. He really did think that Ali would usurp him? Seriously? I’m looking forward to see how his life changes throughout the series. (I haven’t started the second book because I wanted it to be a suspense while I wrote the review)

I’m also curious to know what’s in store for Ghazzan, the king. I felt as if he has a lot of secrets hidden and untold about Deavabad and its past. I liked how loving and caring he was as a father and how stern he was as a ruler. He was at least trying to maintain the peace of his city.

I think Kaveh Pramukh and Nisreen have important roles to play in the next books. They were devoted and loyal servants especially when it came to their Banu Nahida. Were they already plotting against the Qahtani family? We’re ought to know that.

Fan art from itsmunazza via tumblr
  • Representation

I loved.. loved how she had represented the Muslim society and the diversity among them without making it totally about the religion. She had discussed about Turks, Egyptians and few other nationalities were mentioned in the first few chapters and it did make me research a little more about how different are they from me as an Asian Muslim. This is really interesting, learning about other Muslim cultures.

Another fact that I really appreciate is how she has normalized the words like Hijab, Abaya, Minarat etc. I felt so welcomed when I started reading the book. I felt as if finally, I can relate to a fictional world. After Harry Potter this is one fictional world I could call mine. I met hijabi women, praying men, saw huge Masjids and everything just fit perfectly. I loved how she explained little aspects of our day to day life such as the Adhan (Call for the prayer), use of phrases like ‘God willing’, ‘Peace be upon you’.

(Non-Muslim friends you might feel a little startled at the beginning but the author has the glossary for you. Still if you don’t get it, ‘Mighty Google’ is there for you! Even after that if you do not understand it we’re here to help you guys! Ask us and we’ll help you out! J )

Unlike other books with Muslim characters, the author didn’t take off Nahri’s hijab to symbolize her freedom and power here. (I hope it doesn’t change in the next few books too) As I noticed she wore the hijab every time she was out and about. Reading experience was sublimed when I found characters like me.

  • World building

Who thought someone would write a story based on Djinns? I didn’t. Hehe… A city made of brass existing parallel to us. The entrance to the world is highly fortified. A civilization of Djinn live hidden from the human world in the middle of a desert. The Djinns are divided into different castes and they have cultural differences among them. Different beliefs, gods and powers. The curse of Suleiman, rules set for them where they do not interfere with the human world. Despite the rules you have the Shafits, mixed Djinns. A brutal war, usurping of the Nahids and Zaid al Qahtani capturing the City of Brass. The political dynamics that follow after the usurping of the Nahids. Astounding!! I’m just amazed!

  • Reference to the History

Being a History teacher I enjoyed every little mention of the history. I got to read about the ancient Etruscan Civilization existed in Italy. The description of art and craft, culture included parts from various civilizations such as, the Nabatean Kingdom and Maurya Kingdom. There was whole lot of Egyptian Civilization vibes even within the city of Deavabad.  Whenever I read something about the ancient civilization, my heart leaped with joy!

  • Politics

It feels real. The way the society has been divided by the rulers to get their agendas done, that is something I witnessed throughout the book. The way the politics between the castes worked, how the underprivileged are being ignored by the rulers and how the ruling party created havoc among people to satisfy their own agendas. It was always about keeping the Deavas happy because they were all about pure blood.

The king went to the point where he created rumours to get the mixed blooded people killed. King Ghazzan was ready to get his Muntadhir married to a Nahri to be on the good side of the Deavas. These are just few places where I saw power politics did its job. Amazingly handled the political aspect of the story.

  • Mythology

The use of Arabian mythology was extraordinary. Djinns for Muslims is something real. Well, we do believe in the existence of them. Using them as the base or the main characters of a story was the most fascinating idea for me.

Part from the Djinns, the Rukhs, Ifrit, Ghouls, Marids and more mythical creatures you didn’t even know that existed were introduced in this book. If you were a fan of Aladdin or Sindbad, I think you should start reading The City of Brass.

Talking about Rukhs and Peris, I cried when Khayzur died! The authors really do enjoy killing good characters don’t they?

  • Romance

I’m glad there wasn’t a load of romance here. But there was the type of romance I like the most, Slow burning. I’m hoping there’ll be a twist in the next books?

My heart shattered into pieces when Nahri walked away from Dara at the temple. I felt the pain physically. That was some great writing!

This was a fast phased book. I was hooked to the story since the beginning. By Chapter 5 I was able to understand the setting. I did have a little bit of doubts on the division among the Djinns but they were cleared as I read more. I still do have a few questions and I hope they’ll be answered in the next book.  

Did I forget to say? This is a fantasy that I would call ‘Perfect’!!

I’m looking forward to see how this story unfurls in the second book in terms of the relationship between Ali and Nahri as well as Dara and Nahri. I did get some hints about a resurrection in the next book so I’m excited to see how this story develops in the next books.

Until next time,

Yours,

Amna. xoxo

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Uncategorized

කන්ද උඩ ගින්දර (Kandha Uda Gindhara)

කතෘ – ජැක්සන් ඇන්තනී


ප්‍රකාශනය – ඇම්. ඩී. ගුණසේන ප්‍රකාශකයෝ

පිටු 422


ප්‍රභේදය – ඓතිහාසික ප්‍රබන්ධ

ලක්දිව අවසාන සිංහල රජු වූ ශ්‍රී වීර පරාක්‍රම නරේන්ද්‍රසිංහ, ඔහු මිත්‍ර ප්‍රංශ ජාතික දස්කොන් (පේද්‍රෝ දි ගැස්කන්ට් ) , අග බිසව ප්‍රමිලා සහ යකඩ දෝලිය මොණරවිල කුමාරිහාමි යන සිව් චරිත මූලික කොටගෙන ඔවුන් වටා ගෙතුණු රසවත් වෘත්තාන්තයකි ‘කන්ද උඩ ගින්දර’.

(පළමුව මාගේ භාෂා හැසිරවීමේ අඩුපාඩුවක් වී නම් එයට සමාව අයැද සිටිමි )

මෙම ග්‍රන්ථය පළමුවර කියවන්නට ගත්කල දෙවන පිටුවෙන් අතහැර දැමුවේ භාෂාව වෙනස් යැයි දැණුන නිසාවෙන්ය. නමුත් නැවත මා හරි බරි ගැසී වාඩි වූයේ ඉතිහාසය උගනීමට, ඒ පිළිබඳව කියවීමට මා තුල ඇති බලවත් ආශාව සහ කන්ද උඩරට ඉතිහාසය පිළිබඳව මා දක්වන ඇල්මත් හේතුකොටගෙනය.

පළමුවර කියවීමේදී මට ගැටළුවක් වූ භාෂාව පළමු පරිච්ඡේදය අවසානයේ තවදුරටත් ගැටළුවක් නොවීය. මා සිංහල නවකතා කිහිපයක් මීට පෙර කියවා ඇති අතර ඉතිහාසය අලලා ලියැවුණු නවකතා කිහිපයක්ද කියවා ඇත්තෙමි. ඒ අතරින් හදවතට දැනෙන අයුරින් භාෂාව හසුරුවා තිබූ එක් පොතක් ලෙස ‘කන්ද උඩ ගින්දර’ හැඳින්වුවහොත් මා නිවැරදිය.

ප්‍රේමය, වියෝව, ශෘංගාරය, රාජ තන්ත්‍ර යනාදී සියල්ල කැටිකොට ලියා ඇති මෙම ග්‍රන්ථය පාඨකයාගේ වින්දනය උපරිම තලයක තැබීමට සමත් වී ඇත.

මෙම කතාවෙහි මා සිත්ගත් පළමු අංගය වූයේ (ජවනිකා ඡේදනය) කතාව ගලා යන්නාක් මෙන් ලියා ඇති ආකාරයයි. එනම්, ස්ථාන දෙකක සිදුවන ජවනිකා දෙකක් එකට එක ගලප්පා පාඨකයාගේ රස වින්දනයට, එසේත් නැතිනම් පොතට සමවැදී සිටින අයගේ භාවනාවට කරදරයක් නොවන අයුරින් සුමටව ලියා ඇති අයුරු අපූරුය.

“……. එකෙනෙහි වලව්වට කිට්ටු සමීප වෘක්ෂයක සිටි මොනර කුරුල්ලෙකු මහ හඬින් කෑ ගෑවේය.

සෙංකඩගල මාලිගාව ක්ෂණයෙන් කම්පිත විය. මොනර හඬක් බඳු තාර්කවකින් යුතු, මින් පෙර කිසිදු දිනෙක අසා නොතිබුණු අකාරයේ තීව්‍ර වියෝලා වාදනයක් මගුල් මඩුව දෙසින් වාදනය වූවේය.”

ඒ මොණරවිල වලව් අඩවියේ මොනර කෑ ගැසීමත්, සෙංකඩගල රජ මාලිගාවේ වියෝලා වාදනයත් සම්බන්ද වූ අයුරුයි. මේ ආකාරයෙන් නාට්‍යයක්, චිත්‍රපටියක් නරඹනවා යන හැඟීම මුලු පොත පුරාවටම දැණුනි.

දෙවනුව මා සිත් ගත්තේ කතාවේ එන චරිත වලට පණ පොවා ඇති අයුරුයි. වචනවලින් රූප මැවිය හැක්කේ ඉන්ද්‍රජාලිකයෙකුටම පමණි. කියවන විට සියලු චරිත ජීවමානව පාඨකයාගේ මනසට කතා කරන ලෙස ලියැවී තිබුණි. කවි පද වේවා, දෙබස් වේවා සියල්ල ලුණු ඇඹුල් අඩු නැතිව එක්කර ලියා ඇත.

මසිතට තදින්ම දැණුනු චරිතය වූයේ දස්කොන්ගේ චරිතයයි. කඩවසම් කවිකාර සිතැති ඔහුව එතැකින් නොනැවතී වීරයෙකු ගෙන් අධිකාරම් වරයෙකු වන තෙක්ම විස්තර කර තිබූ අයුරු විශිෂ්ඨය. ඔහු මෙරට වැසියෙක් වී නමුත් මෙරට වැසියන්ගේ දෑසින් ඔහු තමන්ව දුටු අයුරු කියවූ විට මා සිත පෑරී ගියේය.

“එහෙනං ඔබතුමා කීවෙ ඔබතුමාගේ රට මේ රටමයි කියා.”

‘ඔව් මම එහෙම තමයි හිතන්නේ. ඒත් මේ රට එහෙම හිතන්නේ නෑ. මේක මගේ උපන් රට, මගේ ජාත භූමිය. ජාත භූමියයි ජාන භූමියයි එකක් වුණු මිනිස්සුන්ට නං තමන්ගේ මාතෘ භූමිය හොයා ගන්න එක ලේසියි.’ ………….

‘ආඬවනේ… මට තේරෙන්නෙ නෑ. ජාත භූමි, ජාන භූමි, මාතෘ භූමි. මාතෘ භූමි නං දන්නවා. අනිත් භූමි දෙක?’

‘ජාත කියන්නෙ උපත. ජාත භූමි කියන්නේ උපන් බිම. ජාන භූමි කියන්නෙ කෙනෙක්ගේ ලේ පරම්පරාව ජීවත් වන භූමිය. අපි දෙන්නගෙම ලේ පරම්පරාවල් ජීවත් වෙන්නෙ මේ රටේ නෙවෙයි. හැබයි මේක මගේ ජාත භූමිය. මං ඉපදුනේ මෙහේ. තාත්තා ප්‍රන්ස. අම්මා පෘතුගීසි. ඉතිං මගේ මාතෘ භූමිය මේ රටයි කියා මට කියන්න පුළුවන්ද?’ “

ප්‍රමිලා දේවිය පිලිබඳව සිතේ පහල වූයේ කණගාටුවක්. දස්කොන් ප්‍රමිලා පෙම් වෘත්තාන්තය අපිට අළුත් කතාවක් නොවේ, නමුත් මෙහි අපට හමු වන දස්කොන් සහ ප්‍රමිලා ගේ කතාව ප්‍රේමයෙන් එහා ගිය ගැඹුරු බැඳීමක් ලෙස සටහන් කර තිබීම විශේෂ දෙයක්. මෙහි දෙවන කොටසක් කියවීමට කැමැත්තක් නැතුවාම නොවේ.

පොත කියවීමෙදී මට හැඟුණු තව දෙයක් වූයේ මෙහි ශ්‍රී වීර පරාක්‍රම නරේන්ද්‍රසිංහ රජු හට ‘සෙල්ලං නිරිඳු’ යන පටබැඳි නාමය අභිබවා ගෞරවයක් අත්කර දීමක් සිදුවූ බවයි. ඉතිහාසය උගනීමේදී සිංහලේ සිහසුන නායක්කර්වරුන්ට ලැබීමට හේතු වූ රජ යන්නෙන් හඳුනා ගන්නා නරේන්ද්‍රසිංහ රජු දෙස සානුකම්පිතව බැලීමට උත්සහයක් දරා ඇති අයුරු මට දැණුනි. තම පියාගේ හදිසි මරණය, රාජ්‍යත්වයේ භාරදූරත්වය, තමා පෙම් කල යුවතිය වෙනුවට තවත් යුවතියක අග බිසව ලෙස සරණ පාවා ගැනීමට සිදුවීම, තම සහෝදරයා තමා මැරීමට තැත් කිරීම සහ තමන් රජකමට සුදුස්සෙකි යන්න තම රටවැසියා හට ඔප්පු කිරීමට සිදුවීම යන සියල්ලටම රජ වී කෙටි කලකින් ම මුහුණ දීමට සිදුවීම ඔහු පිළිබඳව අනුකම්පා සිතක් පහල වීමට නිසැකයෙන් හේතු වනු ඇත.

ඉතිහාස පොත්වල සියලු රජවරුන් ව හැඳින්වූයේ ඒකාධිපති පාලකයන් ලෙසයි. නමුත් රාජ්‍ය නීති, සිරිත් විරිත්, ඇවතුම් පැවතුම් හමුවේ රජු ඇත්තටම ඒකාධිපතියෙකුද? පොතෙහි අන්තර්ගතය අනුව ඉතිහාසය පිළිබඳව සොයා බැලීම් රැසක් කර ඇති බව කිසිදු සැකයක් නොමැත. එසේ නම් ඇත්තෙන්ම එකල රජවරුන්ට තම සිතැඟි ක්‍රියාත්මක කිරීමට ඉඩක් නොතිබී ඇතිද?

මා ප්‍රිය කල තවත් අංගයක් වූයේ කථාවේ හමුවන සියලුම චරිත අවසානය තෙක් පැමිණ ගමන නිමා කිරීමයි. එනම්, බකිනි, පළිඟු, සරප්පු, සුරගුණයා යනාදී ලෙසින් එක් එක් චරිත අවසානයේ යන දිශාව පෙන්නුම් කොට දී ඉතිරිය පාඨකයාගේ සිතුවිලි වල මවා ගැන්මට ඉඩ තබා කතුවරයා ‘කන්ද උඩ ගින්දර’ හි නිමාව සටහන් කරන්නේය.

අවසානයේ පොත කියවා හමාර කල විට මගේ සිත රිදුම් දෙමින් තිබුණේය. නමුත් මසිත තෘප්තිමත්ය.

‘කිසිවක් සිදු වී අවසාන වන්නේ නැත. සියල්ල සැම විටම සිදු වෙමින් පවතින්නේය. “

නැවත හමුවනතුරු,
ආයුබෝවන්!

Amna Z. (The Book Witch of Hogwarts)

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The Veil of Trust (Princess Vigilante #3)

Author: Usher Evans

Publisher: by Sun’s Golden Ray Publishing

Number of Pages:   Pages

Genre: Fantasy/Young Adult Fiction

Rating: 5 stars

Blurb:

Brynna has passed an important test, but the long road to reclaiming her kingdom is still fraught with dangers. Bolstered by her growing army of loyal soldiers, as well as friends new and old, she takes strides to free her people from Ilara’s tyrannical grip. But alliances are fragile, and old foes bring new challenges to the would-be queen. Soon, Brynna learns that trust is harder to come by than she first thought.

Synopsis:

Bryanna won her first challenge as queen. But now she has to reclaim her throne by winning the trust of a great army. She has to face her enemies. She has to gain allies. She has to rescue her family and friends back at home. On her journey to reclaim her throne, she loses so many lives and she learns her own lessons. She finally leaves to face the final battle and to fix everything. To make everything right.

(I was provided with an e – ARC by the author in exchange for an honest review. All the opinions, thoughts and feelings expressed below are my own)

A page turner. A great read. Action – packed. Emotional. Intriguing.

The third installment of the Princess Vigilante Series, ‘The Veil of Trust’, begins with Bryanna being very unsure of herself. When I finished the book she turned out to be a queen who is able to command a great army. I loved the way her character developed from a lost princess to a powerful queen. The best thing about her being a queen was the way she combined two parts of her life, being a thief and being a queen.

I loved Katarine’s and Beata’s characters more in this book. Their sacrifice to bring Bryanna to the throne. Katarine facing all that hardship to protect Felix. And that beautiful wedding! We also meet a new version of Jax! Which was super fun and exciting. By the end he even confessed why he had stayed to support Bryanna. Elisha was such a darling.

I did not like Ilara at all. She seemed to be really arrogant and ignorant to me. Aline was trustworthy and loyal. I still don’t understand why did Captain Mark came in and had to leave the story suddenly. Does the author have other plans for him? Will he be an asset or a liability to Brynn?

As I said in my review for the first instalment of the Princess Vigilante series, Celia did have a great role to play in this series. Not as a thief nor as a villain but as an ally. As an ally who sacrificed her life to protect Brynn and her crown. I was heart-broken when she died. Death of Jorad was heart – breaking too. That whole chapter was gut wrenching!! I couldn’t believe that two of my favourite characters in the series are already dead!

And the end made me longing for more. Felix finally…. Finally spoke his feelings aloud!! I was pissed at him for being a coward but finally the readers got the satisfaction of seeing them confessing their love to each other. 😀

I’d say this was the best book so far in the series. (The final installment is yet to come so I wouldn’t finalize my decision. Not yet ;)) But this book fills so many gaps in the story that was in the first two books. The book was full of information which was eventful and not at all dull.

The story was an amazing character driven one. The author certainly knows how to keep the reader glued to the book! I’m sure the next and the last book is going to be super exciting. Let’s wait and see!!

Until next time,

Much love,

Amna xoxo.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/44182228the-veil-of-trust?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=k0ihrNO5MG&rank=1

Purchase the book from – Amazon , Book Depository

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Wrap Up 2019

Hello fellow bookworms!!!

I’m posting on my blog after a very long time!! Last year has been a very busy one!

My reading goal for 2019 was to read 50 books. Unfortunately I could only finish reading 44 books. A little disappointing but that’s not a bad number either! Isn’t it?? So, let’s look back at my 2019’s reading list!!!

01. The Runaway Princess by S. Usher Evans

02. Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini

03. Revolution is not a Dinner Party by Ying Chang Compestine

04. Seriously… I’m Kidding by Ellen DeGeneres

05. Eldest by Christopher Paolini

06. The Valkyries by Paulo Coelho

07. Eleven Minutes by Paulo Coelho

08. Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon

09. Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

10. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

11. Brisinger by Christopher Paolini

12. King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard

13. The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

14. The House of Hades by Rick Riordan

15. The Perfect Drug by Chaitanya Saini

16. The Fates Divide by Veronica Roth

17. The Shifting of Stars by Kathy Kimbray

18. The Veil of Ashes by S. Usher Evans

19. Like the Flowing River by Paulo Coelho

20. The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

21. Where Rainbows End by Cecelia Ahern

22. Inheritance by Christopher Paolini

23. The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

24. The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak

25. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K Rowling

26. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K Rowling

27. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K Rowling

28. Cinderella by Elizabeth Rudnick

29. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K Rowling

30. Nothing But Love by Zeneefa Zaneer

31. Wonder by R.J Palacio

32. The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas

33. Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix by J.K Rowling

34. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J.K Rowling

35. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint

36. Origin by Dan Brown

37. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K Rowling

38. The Zahir by Paulo Coelho

39. The Veil of Trust by Paulo Coelho

40. Kumarihami (කුමාරිහාමි) by Priyanka Amarathunga

41. Kumarihami 2 (කුමාරිහාමි 2) by Priyanka Amarathunga

42. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

43. Can You Keep a Secret by Sophie Kinsella

44. The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur

2019 was a Paulo Coelho kinda year. Not a bad reading year!! 😉 But disappointed that I couldn’t complete my reading goal. This year I’ve reduced my reading goal up to 20 books. The stress of completing a huge reading goal is a little difficult sometimes. Let’s pray for a good reading year this time too!!! 😀

Happy New Year fellow Bloggers and Loving Followers!! You guys made 2019 a great one with all your support! Thank You!!

Until Next Time,

Amna. Xoxo

Uncategorized

The Veil of Ashes (Princess Vigilante #2)

Author: S. Usher Evans

Publisher: Sun’s Golden Ray Publishing

Number of Pages:  257 pages

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb :

Blindsided by betrayal, Brynna has been licking her wounds away from the city she loves. But the call to duty soon becomes too much to bear, and Brynna embarks on a quest for friends and allies who’ll help her reclaim what was once hers. But vengeance comes with a heavy toll, one Brynna isn’t sure she’s willing to pay.

Synopsis :

After being killed, Bryanna recovers under Celia and stays away from her city out of guilt. But the good old friend Celia gives her the needed motivation, drops her right in front of the Forcadel City gates!! She crawls back to her city and realizes that things have turned worse than she expected! With the help of her allies she heads to Neimen. Neimen agrees to help under one condition. If Bryanna can get the Kulkans to help her, Neimen will send her the help she asked for. She goes to Kulka knowing that the king of Kulka hates her for breaking off her engagement with the Kulkan Prince. In Kulka she faces the expected hostility. The Kulkans price for their help was Neveri, the border city that lies between Forcadel and Kulka. She’d have found the task super easy if she never lied about the number of soldiers she had. Yet, with the help of Celia’s soldiers, few of her Foradelian supporters and Luard and his Neimen friends she achieves the impossible!! Here they go to win Forcadel!!

(I was provided with an e – ARC by the author in exchange for an honest review. All the opinions, thoughts and feelings expressed below are my own)

This book has a great amount of character developments. You see a different aspect of every single person you’ve already met in the book one. The new characters are very much interesting too.  The author has done a great job shaping each character.

Starting with Bryanna, who was hiding, regretting her own past and mistakes will change into an independent, strong woman. Her journey to Nimen and Kulka brings so much change into her character. Learning to deal with her fears, learning the life style of ordinary people in Nimen and Kulka, working with Luard and his friends have added a great lot of positivity into Bryanna’s vision. The way she faced her fears and the way she started behaving like a queen was incredible!

Felix finally, finally accepts the fact that he loves Bryanna! Yess!!! I was waiting for this to happen and yes!! He finally did confess it! Felix being vulnerable and taking risks to save his friends is another major character development I saw in this book. Felix wasn’t a person who would look for loopholes in law. But he did it for Bryanna.

Celia’s character becomes more and more interesting. I’m still curious to know what this woman has kept in store to surprise us! Ilara, being an adorable villain!!! I love this character to some extent. Her boldness, strength and diplomacy is pretty impressive.

I almost forgot Luard!! He was such a gentleman. Who would risk so much for his sister and his sister’s friend? His generosity and kindness was one of the biggest strength Bryanna had.

The author had showcased the weak side of certain characters as well. Especially during moments like, Felix giving up his protection to save his love and friendship and Bryanna regretting her past.

The setting was beautiful too. The cities Nimen and Kulka were beautifully described. The Nimen underground tunnels reminded me of dwarfs’ constructions from Lord of the Rings and the Inheritence Cycle.

Narrating the story using two characters points of view made it easier to understand what happens in both ends. While Bryanna was narrating the story from her point of view. We learnt what was happening in Forcadel through Felix.  

That end was compelling! That was the end I was expecting but never thought it would feel so good to read an ending like that!

Author Usher Evans knows how to get a sequel written!! A page turner. Unputdownable! Fast phased, action filled, thrilling, enthralling and phenomenal!! A five star read! This story gets better with each part!! With the story building and the amount of action that was involved, I can’t wait to know what happens next!!

If you’re looking for a fascinating and heart thumping read, this is the series you should get to yourself! This series will never disappoint you!

Until next time,

Much love,

Amna. xoxo.

        Purchase the book from – Amazon, Book Depository ,